Subjects: Labor Party, by-elections, Barnaby Joyce.
HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good morning to you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
HOST: Now we are going to kick off with you if we can today Albo. We had a bit of fun last week …
ALBANESE: Why not? Alphabetical order.
HOST: Yes, that’s right. AA. It’s got to be you. First in the White Pages. Now we had a bit of fun last week talking about the poll showing that you are the preferred Leader of the Labor Party. I want to ask you in all seriousness though, and you have obviously been campaigning in these two by-elections on the ground in Longman and in Braddon, do you think that if Labor does fall short in either of those by-elections that it will open up a question of the federal leadership?
ALBANESE: Well, in all seriousness, we are not about falling short. We are about winning these by-elections and we are not about conceding that members who have been very good in Susan Lamb and Justine Keay are going to be doing anything other than being returned. That is what we are focused on. I was with Susan Lamb yesterday. We caught the train from Brisbane Central Station up to the Longman electorate, the Caboolture line, and Susan was very well received.
HOST: I know that you are focused on that now. Obviously the party is focused on winning those seats now. But in politics people are always planning for contingencies and thinking about the consequences. So the question is, in the event that the worst happens and Labor doesn’t win either of those seats, doesn’t it become a leadership test for Bill Shorten?
ALBANESE: But the whole premise of the question is wrong.
HOST: Not if you lose it’s not.
ALBANESE: Well, what we are about is winning not just these by-elections but winning the next election and ensuring that Bill Shorten is the Prime Minster and I am the Infrastructure Minister in a Government which he chairs and that’s my only focus.
HOST: Can I just ask you when you go out campaigning as you have been in Longman and Braddon, does Bill Shorten ring you and say: “Hey Albo mate, it would be great if you could give me a bit of back up here with your high profile and the fact that you are so popular, I want you out there with me using your star appeal to hold this seat’’.
ALBANESE: Well Bill Shorten, certainly, we had a chat last week about campaigning because early last week I was in Perth and Fremantle. The week before I was in Braddon and we do swap notes about issues that come up in those electorates and the point is that yesterday we had Amanda Rishworth in Longman in the morning. We had me there in the afternoon and early evening. Bill was in Braddon. We are a team. I know that might seem unusual for the chaotic rabble that we oppose.
HOST: I thought you were going to say 5AA for a second there.
ALBANESE: No, you are a united team. I’ve seen you blokes in there and there’s no doubt that you two are united, just like there is no doubt that Labor is united, unlike the other lot.
ALBANESE: You are almost as one.
HOST: We are in lock-step, that’s right. Hey Chris Pyne, we know you were spotted at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday for the Crows’ disappointing loss to GWS. Afterwards, what did you sit back and watch on TV to unwind? Was Channel 7 on the dial?
PYNE: Well just before we get onto that subject, the thing is it’s not just Longman and Braddon that are the tests for Bill Shorten. It’s also Mayo because Labor are in lock-step behind Rebekha Sharkie in that seat. Leon Bignell is dropping a bucket on our candidate on a daily basis in the State Parliament. Labor is supporting Rebekha Sharkie and she has embraced (inaudible). Labor has embraced Rebekha. Rebekha has embraced Labor. So there’s a lot of tests for Bill Shorten and the truth is we shouldn’t win any of these by-elections. The Government hasn’t won a by-election from the Opposition since 1920. So the fact that Bill Shorten is even under any pressure in these by-elections is extraordinary and I must admit I haven’t heard Anthony giving a fulsome endorsement of the Bill Shorten as the Labor Leader from now until the next election. And while Anthony is very busy criss-crossing the country Bill Shorten is in hiding. He hasn’t been to any of these seats campaigning. He’s leaving it up to Anthony Albanese.
ALBANESE: He was in Braddon yesterday.
PYNE: He’s leaving it up to Anthony because he knows that Anthony is a lot more popular. Anthony is being very coy and it’s nice to be coy. He’s a lovely humble fellow. But the truth is we know he is campaigning for the leadership.
HOST: What about Barnaby though, Chris Pyne? Did you watch the show? Surely the Turnbull Government, seeking re-election as it is, you would be better off without him as a candidate wouldn’t you?
PYNE: Well whether he is a candidate or not is a matter for Barnaby and the National Party; whether he nominates for pre-selection – he says he will – and whether the National Party endorses him. Every single candidate including me, including everybody, has to be endorsed by their party to run that flag in that particular seat. He says he is going to nominate again and good luck to him. I did watch the show on Sunday night I must admit and I thought well, that was a choice that Barnaby and Vicki made and I hope that they are happy with the way it turned out.
HOST: What did you think about them getting paid so much money for doing it?
PYNE: Well Barnaby is a backbencher so he doesn’t have the same rules that apply to him as apply to say me as a Cabinet Minister and he has to obviously declare other sources of income on the Register of Interests. I don’t think a Cabinet Minister would get away with being paid for a television interview. I must admit I haven’t noticed you offering me any money.
ALBANESE: We don’t even get a biscuit. That’s why they won’t have us in the studio because they are worried we will have a cup of coffee.
HOST: We’re not made of money here. You are getting our standard fee.
PYNE: Exactly. Just a certificate of appreciation would be nice at some point.
ALBANESE: We could put it on our walls.
HOST: We will get one printed up for you at the end of the year fellas – the gold star. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese for Two Tribes on a Wednesday morning, Thanks for joining us.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.