Subjects: Retirement age, bullying in the Liberal Party, CFMMEU.
HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you both.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning from Perth.
HOST: Perth? Geez Albo, you are up at sparrow’s. Your dogged commitment to this segment, we commend you for that.
ALBANESE: I’d talk to you at two in the morning.
HOST: You have a couple of times. You weren’t making a lot of sense.
ALBANESE: As I recall David, nor were you at that time.
HOST: That was years ago.
ALBANESE: But probably best not to go into those stories on air.
HOST: No that’s right, when you were my local member in Sydney’s inner west. Hey before we get down to brass tacks I just want to start with a question without notice for both of you. I see this morning our new Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that the retirement age is going to stay at 67. It’s not going to be increased to 70. For those of us, I think all of us on the show, you and me – Will might be Gen Y – but we are all Gen Xers. This is good news for us isn’t it?
PYNE: It’s very good news, particularly for Anthony Albanese of course who is much older than us and getting closer to pension age. He will be absolutely delighted. It is good news and I am glad that we have announced that. I think a lot of older Australians will be pleased about that and it means they will be able to get access to a pension a lot earlier than they would have otherwise under the previous policy. It was a policy of course that was initiated originally in the Rudd Government and we …
ALBANESE: That’s not true.
PYNE: It’s good news that we are …
ALBANESE: For goodness sake!
PYNE: … leaving the retirement age at 67. I think a lot of people will be breathing easier today because of it.
ALBANESE: What we have here is Labor leading from Opposition again. We have opposed this increase in the pension age. We have campaigned against it. We have refused to vote for it in the Parliament. The Government hasn’t been able to get in it through the Parliament therefore they have reluctantly acknowledged that. Look, if you are 67 and, frankly, in the professions that all of us are in, you can continue. But if you are a blue-collar worker; if you are someone who is in a much more physically demanding job, the idea that you can just continue to work was never on. That is why Labor opposed it and it is good that the Government has adopted our position.
PYNE: Well you’ve got to admire his chutzpah anyway.
HOST: Christopher Pyne, following the leadership ugliness of the last fortnight, you have had the resignation of Julia Banks, you’ve got South Australian Senator Lucy Gichuhi threatening to name names in the Parliament of alleged bullies within your party. Does you party have an issue with bullying?
PYNE: No of course it doesn’t and I think the Australian public want everyone to stop talking about the incidents of two weeks ago.
HOST: It’s your guys talking about it, and girls.
PYNE: Well, you know I think the Australian public wants us to get on with talking about the things that are of interest to them around the economy, around wages, jobs. That’s exactly what we are doing. That’s what the new Prime Minster is getting on with. There has been no complaint to the Chief Whip or to the Prime Minister about bullying by any of my colleagues. But if such a complaint was received of course we would take it very, very seriously.
HOST: Julia Banks has resigned.
PYNE: Well she hadn’t resigned. She has said she is not going to contest the next election, whenever that might be. She hasn’t resigned because of this issue. Of course we are handling these issues internally. If anyone feels that they have been intimidated or stood over then of course that is unacceptable behaviour. And we will make sure that the people who are part of this are properly looked after and counselled. But no-one has made a complaint and I think it is time that we put this issue behind us and got on with focusing on the issues that the Australian public care about, which is the day-to-day, bread-and-butter issues that they are concerned about themselves.
HOST: Have you spoken to Senator Gichuhi about the suggestion that she will name names under privilege?
PYNE: No, I haven’t.
HOST: Albo, speaking of bullies, why does Labor have anything to do with John Setka and, given his leadership position at the CFMEU, why does Labor still have a relationship with the CFMEU?
ALBANESE: Well I have never met the bloke. So he is not a member of the NSW branch of the CFMEU. He holds no national position in the union so it is not surprising that I haven’t met him. The tweet was entirely inappropriate. It has been withdrawn. It should be condemned. I condemn it. And we should move on. I mean the CFMEU represents people in the construction sector, or that division does, and in the construction sector it’s important that there is a union there because it is already a very dangerous industry. Obviously, without union representation we would have more occupational health and safety incidents.
HOST: But does it worry you, the calibre of person that seems to be moving into office bearer roles at the union. I mean, we have seen those borderline skinheads who were running the joint in Western Australia for a while walking around with their Eureka flag singlets and big Doc Marten boots and red braces and all of that and now this yahoo down in Melbourne. It’s not a good look for you guys is it?
ALBANESE: Well of course these people are selected by people within the union. I don’t get a say in that.
HOST: That speaks to an even bigger cultural problem then doesn’t it?
ALBANESE: Well no, because they hold no position in the Labor Party. John Setka holds no positon in the Labor Party that I know of whatsoever.
HOST: But there is a big financial relationship between the CFMEU and the Labor Party though.
ALBANESE: Well the CFMEU is one of the unions that is affiliated to the Labor Party. That’s true. But overwhelmingly the people who work in the construction, forestry, mining sector are people who go to work every day, do their bit for the country, do their bit for the people that they work for and are good, decent people who are contributing to the national economy and working very hard to put food on the table for their families.
PYNE: Two point four million dollars. That’s the donations that the CFMEU has made to Labor since Bill Shorten was the Leader of the Opposition.
ALBANESE: Well I am surprised Christopher that you could just actually say on air that no-one has made a complaint about bullying in the Liberal Party.
PYNE: We’re not talking about that. We are talking about John Setka.
ALBANESE: Well exactly because you are trying to distract from the fact that you have an enormous cultural problem in the Liberal Party. You won’t even acknowledge that it is there.
PYNE: Your boss is union-bred, union-fed and union-led.
HOST: There’s a line we will be hearing a lot between now and election day.
ALBANESE: That is Scott Morrison’s line.
HOST: This is the political equivalent of the old football argument there are bad eggs in every supporter base I think. Thank you Albo. Thank you Chris. Good stuff.