Subjects: Halloween; Nauru; American politics.
HOST: Any good relationship needs work. It’s time for Two Tribes, Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good morning to you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen, it’s nice to be back.
HOST: It’s good to have you, Chris.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning from the Sydney rail network.
HOST: The Sydney rail network?
ALBANESE: I’m on a train.
HOST: Are you stuck on a Tangara, Albo?
ALBANESE: I’m on a train.
HOST: Is it moving?
ALBANESE: I’m heading into a forum in New South Wales Parliament House – It is moving – moving quite well, quite efficiently.
PYNE: That’s because of the Berejiklian Government.
ALBANESE: Mate, come and have a look at the light rail project here.
HOST: Now guys you’re both dads, you’ve both got teenage kids. Have your families been swept up with Halloween fever over the years; is it something that you get into? We’ve been talking about it a bit this morning.
PYNE: Well, I’ve got a 10-year-old daughter, so I have to say our house is covered in Halloween decorations out the front, with the hideous web that gets sprayed all over the front fence – which is better than the graffiti that I’m used to from the CFMEU. Yes we do get swept up in the Halloween thing, we didn’t used to. It’s really a much more modern thing than it was when I was growing up, that’s for sure.
HOST: So you guys could dress up as a character for trick-or-treating. Have you got anyone you might like to go as?
ALBANESE: I could go as Christopher Pyne and scare people.
PYNE: Oh dear. Well, I could go as Kevin Rudd but I think that’s too unkind to people. I don’t want to frighten people. I’m thinking more Frankenstein than Kevin Rudd, maybe.
HOST: Instead of giving people lollies you’d give them your memoirs.
ALBANESE: My 17-year-old son is doing his HSC at the moment, so he’s a bit past Halloween at the moment. But when he was a bit younger he certainly participated and it seems to be getting bigger every year. My much better half, Carmel, was away for a couple of nights and she has …
PYNE: I’m not surprised.
ALBANESE: Bought appropriate lollies and Mars Bars and all sorts of treats, but we had to hide it because otherwise the 17-year-old would have eaten it all.
PYNE: I did go trick-or-treating once. I went trick-or-treating a couple of years ago and I dressed up as Dumbledore.
HOST: From Harry Potter?
PYNE: Which gave everybody quite a surprise.
HOST: Did you get recognised or was it – the beard covered you up?
PYNE: I got recognised. I got quite scared, actually, being out there in the dark like that. With all the …
HOST: That’s what the wand is for, Christopher. Okay, now let’s get into some of the issues of the day.
ALBANESE: We’re on the big picture today.
HOST: It’s time to get into it now; because there’s a local story that’s making national headlines. The Advertiser is reporting that immigration officials have been shifting asylum seeker families from Nauru to Adelaide as part of an operation to remove children from the facility. Christopher Pyne, why the secrecy around this?
PYNE: Well, it’s very important that we make sure that people smugglers don’t think they’ve got a green light to open up their trade, their hideous trade, to Australia again. Now I’m not the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton is; but I know that we of course are making sure that, particularly children who are suffering from health issues, are being removed from Nauru back to Australia to be looked after from a health perspective. Now I don’t know if that’s to Adelaide. I haven’t made those inquiries. I’ve only seen that story myself this morning, but if that’s the case, I think most people would welcome that outcome.
HOST: Well, are you one of the people who welcomes it, Anthony Albanese?
ALBANESE: What we have is medical experts saying that children need to be removed off Nauru, and that’s a good thing, if the Government is doing it.
HOST: Are they going about it the right way then? Because the model that sounds like a reasonable justification – the idea is you don’t broadcast to people smugglers that the way to get in is with a child – because you don’t want to encourage that kind of thing. But at the same time you can be humanitarian by secretly then treating these people in Australia. That sounds like a reasonable model, doesn’t it?
ALBANESE: Well, what I’m concerned about is the outcome here. And if an outcome is that a child who is suffering mental anguish and trauma is looked after, which is our responsibility, then that is a good thing. And I’m not going to play politics with whether it is announced or not. I think the outcome is what matters here.
HOST: Can I get both of your thoughts on the debate coming out of America over the last week? We saw those pretty sinister pipe bomb threats being sent to prominent Democrats. Then we saw the appalling anti-Semitic shootings in Pittsburgh. Starting with you if we can, Chris, and then you, Albo. Why do you think that we’re seeing this really extreme polarisation in politics and what can be done to combat it?
PYNE: Well, I have to say the United States is a different political market to Australia, as the stability that we’ve had here in Australia for a hundred years or more, and the political discourse which some people think is pretty rough is nothing in comparison to the highs and lows that have been experienced in the United States over many many decades. And we haven’t had, for example, the race riots that used to occur in the United States in the 60s and 70s that were very common in those days and happily not so much these days. The gun laws we’ve talked about before in the United States – you’d never have in Australia a situation where people could access weapons in the way that they can in the US. And thanks to the Howard Government, with the bipartisan support of Labor I should add, we have reformed our gun laws here. I think the extremes of politics in America are driven by a number of factors. Voluntary voting is one of them. I think one of our great things here is compulsory preferential voting, which means that everybody has a say in the government of the country. I could go on, but I think Anthony should have a go.
HOST: Feel the love. What about this?
PYNE: We’re giving you an example of how to behave, you two.
ALBANESE: There it is.
HOST: It’s a master class in manners.
ALBANESE: I’m going to reinforce that and get the buckets ready by saying I agree with everything that Christopher said. The fact is, that the gun laws make an enormous difference. You know, we’ve all had experience as local members of having people who have issues. I used to have one fellow; he used to break the glass on my front door once every couple of days at the office and eventually the police rounded him up. He was a guy who had some real issues that needed looking after. The difference is, if that was in the US, he could have access to guns pretty easily. It’s a very different culture and we need to cherish the laws that were passed by the Howard Government, never ever weaken them. And I think also we all have a responsibility to engage in political discourse. Christopher and I sometimes get bagged by people on our own side of politics, or on the fringes of our own side it must be said, for talking with each other on programs like this. This is a good thing that people are able to have differences, but are able to discuss them in a civil way.
HOST: Absolutely, well said both of you. Well there we go. We billed it as, you know, the edgiest and most aggressive segment on Australian radio and we’ve all ended up sitting in a circle singing Kumbaya.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.