Subjects: Strawberries; Aged care and disabilities; Tony Abbott versus the Empty Chair.
HOST: Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese joining us live. Good morning to you both.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning. I was worried for a second there that you had replaced Frankie with Van Morrison as our theme.
ALBANESE: I thought that’s a bit chilled.
HOST: No, we wouldn’t do that – a bit of Astral Weeks to send everybody to sleep. Before we get down to brass tacks, we’ve been going big all morning urging our listeners to get out there today and buy a punnet of strawberries, echoing the excellent line from the strawberry industry: “Cut them up’’ … What’s the rest of it?
PYNE: Don’t cut them out.
HOST: Don’t cut them out. Thank you, Chris. Would you guys like to lend your voices to that campaign?
PYNE: You are such a smooth operator.
HOST: I’m having trouble breathing Chris.
ALBANESE: Absolutely. Our farmers are really doing it tough and the visual footage of farmers ploughing their strawberries into the ground is not only tragic for them, it’s so wasteful. So if we can all combine together and make sure that whichever lunatic is doing these incredible criminal acts isn’t successful.
PYNE: Absolutely. People have to go out and rush out and buy strawberries and prove that this terrible act is not successful. Goodness knows what the motivation for such behaviour is and the Government is working with the strawberry industry here in Canberra, I am sure in a bipartisan way with Labor, to try and address some of these issues and I think will make more announcements about that today. But the best way of dealing with it is to keep buying strawberries. You can cut them up. If there’s a weapon inside, you will soon find out. But please don’t ruin the strawberry industry by not buying strawberries.
HOST: Yes. Well said both of you.
ALBANESE: You’ve got the cut them up or chew them up anyway, that’s the truth.
HOST: That’s right, exactly. To matters of import in the world of Federal politics, Christopher Pyne, the Aged Care Royal Commission – the Greens are calling for it to be expanded to the realm of disability care. Why isn’t that a good idea?
PYNE: Well look. because the Aged Care Royal Commission is already a huge subject. The treatment, the safety and the quality of treatment in residential aged care and home care is a massive subject. So to widen it even further would make it extremely unfocused and a very large job and it is already a large job and I don’t think, while nobody suggests that there aren’t issues around the treatment of people with disabilities, and I have been listening to many of the speeches that have been given and reading about them in the newspapers, the reality is you can’t simply have a Royal Commission into the violence against everyone in the country. You have to have something that is digestible. Now maybe there is an argument for a Royal Commission down the track around people with disabilities and the way that they have been treated. But to put them together would make the job, I think, far too unwieldy. The first thing to do is to deal with people in residential aged care, including young people with disabilities who are in residential aged care, which is part of the Royal Commission. I think to widen it any further would make it very difficult to manage.
HOST: What do you think is a better model Albo? Is it broadening the terms of reference or having a stand-alone Royal Commission?
ALBANESE: No, it’s a model that we have called for. We called for a Royal Commission into the treatment of people with disabilities 18 months ago at the beginning of 2017 and that is important. It’s a significant enough issue to have its own Royal Commission. Royal Commissions shouldn’t be about political vendettas. They should be about getting evidence to change policies in the national interest. That is why we called for and certainly support the Royal Commission into Residential Aged Care. That’s why also we called for the disabilities Royal Commission as well.
HOST: Chris we saw a bit of a push by some of your colleagues in the New South Wales moderate faction this week to knock off Tony Abbott ahead of his pre-selection in Sydney’s North Shore. Do you think that the Liberal Party would be travelling better in his absence?
PYNE: Well these matters are for the organisation. I defeated a sitting member in pre-selection 26 years ago. That is part of the democracy of the Liberal Party. It’s the same in the Labor Party, the same in the Greens for that matter. The truth is that everyone has to be selected before they can actually run for the seat if you are running under the flag of a political party, rather than as an Independent. And that is a matter for the Liberal Party branches on the Northern Beaches and they obviously had a vote and he won the vote. In spite of the fact that there was no other candidate, they indicated some displeasure and that is a matter for the organisation on the Northern Beaches. That’s just the fact.
PYNE: Why is it funny? It’s just true.
ALBANESE: You said that so straight Christopher.
PYNE: It’s true. That’s what happened. That’s the process. They have a vote on, you know, whether the person should be endorsed.
ALBANESE: You can have Tony Abbott or an empty chair.
HOST: And the chair was coming home with a wet sail.
ALBANESE: The chair, if it had gone on for another hour, the chair would have won.
HOST: People were warming to the chair.
ALBANESE: This is the second time. This is the only bloke I have ever heard of who has almost lost two ballots against empty chairs – once as Prime Minister in Canberra and once in his own seat. Look, this bloke is on the nose. He represents an electorate that voted 70 per cent in favour of marriage equality and he has the opposite view. He represents an electorate based on the Northern Beaches that is very conscious about the environment and the weather and climate change and this bloke has got a flat-earth position and he will be challenged at the general election. And I will tell you what, there’s a whole lot of people, when more than a third of Liberal Party delegates to his own FEC – these aren’t even rank-and-file members, these are senior members of the Liberal Party in his electorate – prefer an empty chair, then he is in trouble come the Federal election if there is a decent Independent. And there is a Mayor up there on the Northern Beaches. I know him. He has been a long-term Mayor. He is a genuine Independent and if he has a crack I think he’s a real show.
HOST: All right. We are going to have to leave it there, not just because we were laughing too much…
PYNE: But that’s just the process. I don’t know why the process is so amusing. I mean, it’s a democratic process for people to have a vote on the endorsement of their candidate.
ALBANESE: I’ve been in the Labor Party for a long time now. I have never been a part of a political process where you vote in favour of someone or you vote in favour of an empty chair. It’s a Liberal Party thing.
PYNE: It doesn’t happen in the South Australian Division, it must be said. We don’t do that. They do it in New South Wales.
ALBANESE: Weird, that’s why. It’s weird.
PYNE: In Queensland they have to have this endorsement meeting so you know, maybe they won’t have those in the future.
ALBANESE: Yes they’ll be worried about the empty chair occupying more than one seat.
PYNE: Everybody in the Liberal Party wants to vote for me. I can say that much.
ALBANESE: That’s only because you have imposed a rule which means that a chair can’t run against you.
HOST: The empty chair is firming to be our next Prime Minister. Chris Pyne, Anthony Albanese – Two Tribes.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.