Subjects: Senate motion; Israel, ship building.
HOST: It’s a target rich environment if you are wanting to have a kick at the Government at the moment. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good morning to you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning. If only it was that easy for Anthony. He can fumble the ball any time.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: You are doing your best to kick own goals.
PYNE: He has fumbled the ball more often than you can poke a stick at I can tell you.
HOST: Chris, I am going to start with a compliment. You are widely regarded as a master tactician. Should you perhaps run free classes for your equals in the upper house, given the fiasco over the Pauline Hanson motion his week?
PYNE: Well look, it was a fiasco and they have said so. Mathias Cormann, for whom I have a high regard, gave a press conference yesterday where he ate humble pie, which is sometimes referred to as other things, and said he was embarrassed and yes, it was mistake. The instructions to vote against that resolution in September were not followed in October and the only reason why was because of a miscommunication between the Attorney General’s office and the Senate. These things happen. Mistakes happen in workplaces and this was a mistake. We have said so and we have taken our druthers and we’ve moved on.
HOST: This is obviously the Pauline Hanson “It’s OK to be white” motion that we are talking about here. Albo, does Labor buy the argument that it was a cock-up, or do you agree with Penny Wong that it is a conspiracy to suck up to One Nation supporters?
ALBANESE: Well let’s be very clear here. Pauline Hanson spoke on this motion in the Senate. They were sitting there listening to her do the dog whistle to right-wing extremists, use language that is used by the KKK and other extreme right-wing groups. And then the bells rang and they voted for it.
PYNE: Because it was mistake.
ALBANESE: But they were there in the Chamber during the debate. It’s been on notice for a month.
PYNE: Are you seriously suggesting that people like Simon Birmingham and Marise Payne and Christopher Pyne for that matter are racist? Is that what you are saying?
ALBANESE: Simon Birmingham walked into the Chamber and it is understandable that sometimes when the bells ring you go in and you sit with your team …
PYNE: So you are saying that Lucy Gichuhi is a racist?
ALBANESE: But there were a range of people sitting there. I am saying that from time to time people who are associated with your side of politics have been prepared to sit back and listen to dog whistles.
PYNE: So Anne Ruston is a racist? Is that what you are saying?
ALBANESE: You have been from time to time, people on your side of politics …
PYNE: No of course you are not saying that, because it’s not true. You know as well as I do that it is not true and it was a mistake end everyone knows it was a mistake.
ALBANESE: They behaved like stuffed dummies incapable of independent thought. What were they doing, auditioning for a remake of Weekend at ….
HOST: Easy, we’ll fix that. It’s a simple process. We can turn them off. Separate. Subject matter number two. Let’s resume.
PYNE: Did you turn him off?
HOST: We turned both of you off.
PYNE: Goodness gracious. That has never happened before.
HOST: He’s back. He might have another crack here.
ALBANESE: You missed my line about them auditioning for a remake of Weekend at Bernie’s.
HOST: Yes, we just heard it now, OK. Now, Christopher Pyne, for people in Adelaide listening in the suburbs and across South Australia this morning, can you explain to them why it a point of debate among our Federal parliamentarians right now that we are contemplating a move of our embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem at a cost of some $150 million to $200 million? How is that of relevance to anyone listening at the moment?
PYNE: Well Israel is the only place in the world where Australia’s embassy is not in the nation’s capital and it has been that way for historic reasons. I believe that we should consider whether it would assist to create the two-state solution in Israel and Palestine for there to be an Australian Embassy in West Jerusalem and a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem and our embassy therefore in their state in East Jerusalem. We are considering that. I think it is a sensible thing to consider. It’s the only country, as I said, in the world where our embassy is not in the nation’s capital.
HOST: Is it a coincidence that it is a debate that has been started just days out from the Wentworth by-election, featuring a large number of Jewish Australians?
PYNE: No. It is a debate that has been going on for years and we have not moved our embassy in the past. We are considering whether it is a good idea. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with the Wentworth by-election. We announced a suite of things yesterday, one of which was that we will exchange defence attaches with Israel, that we will reconsider our support for the Iran nuclear deal and that we will vote against Palestine being the chairman of the G77 countries in the UN and because of that vote coming up this morning, Wednesday morning at 6 o’clock in the morning I think it was, we decided to look at the number of different issues. But we obviously support a two-state solution in Israel between the West Bank and Israel and the Gaza Strip and we believe this will assist that to consider it, whether we end up putting our embassy there or not.
HOST: Is there merit in the argument Albo, and if so, is it worth spending that much taxpayers’ money to realise it?
ALBANESE: Well the previous issue was the Government putting its hand up and saying: “We are hopeless’’. This is them being reckless. This is them being reckless in terms of Australia’s national interests but also ….
PYNE: On what basis?
ALBANESE: This is completely reckless, the idea …
ALBANESE: Christopher, you interrupted last time. How about you just shut up?
HOST: Hey, come on. Let’s keep it friendly.
ALBANESE: In terms of what Frances Adamson has said, the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, when asked about the American move she said it hasn’t been helpful. Quite clearly there is a reason why Australia has, under Julie Bishop as Foreign Minister, under both governments, under a range of foreign affairs ministers, had the same position, which is that it needs to be a part of the final determination between Palestine and Israel that will see the two-state solution.
PYNE: Well Frances Adamson …
ALBANESE: What this has done ….
PYNE: Sorry, I would hate to interrupt you.
ALBANESE: Well you don’t get to ask the questions Christopher. The fact is that this just shows how desperate they are to retain Wentworth. There is no doubt that this is not a move designed to assist peace in the Middle East. This is designed to get a few votes in the electorate of Wentworth. I don’t think it will. I don’t think it will be successful at all. I think it will be seen for the cynical, stupid move that it is.
HOST: Just to finish on something that actually does directly affect people’s lives here in South Australia, and we just want a straight answer from you Chris, no disrespect Albo, but just let the Minster answer this one. Chris Pyne, are you concerned about the news out of the ASC? Apparently they are looking at cutting a further 63 jobs. You said recently, I think it was on our show, that the valley of death is over. Is it over? Are you seeking some sort of urgent indication from ASC about what is going on there?
PYNE: Well we have bridged the valley of death that was created by Labor by not making a decision to build one ship in Australia in their six years in government. The 60 redundancies at ASC is because the Air Warfare Destroyer project is coming to an end. We always knew that and that is why we have created 1200 new jobs. So whether people are wearing an ASC Air Warfare Destroyer polo shirt or a Lend lease Osborne South Shipyard Construction polo short or an Offshore Patrol Vessel polo shirt is not really material. The point is we have lost 60 jobs there because of the end of the Air Warfare Destroyer project and there are 1200 new jobs being created – 400 at the construction of Osborne South Shipyard, 600 for the Offshore Patrol Vessels, which we are cutting steel on in November this year and those jobs have been filled now, and 200 other positions – 100 scholarships at the Naval Shipbuilding College and 100 new positions at ASC Submarine Sustainment and Maintenance. So yes, we always knew the Air Warfare Destroyer was coming to an end. The ships have been built. The 1200 new jobs is because this government is investing in the future of ship building and submarine building. So those people will get jobs in shipbuilding or construction at Osborne if they want them and that is exactly what we are working to do right now, to find them jobs as part of the overall construction project down at Osborne.
HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese on a particularly feisty Two Tribes. Good on you for joining us. We’ll do it all again next week. Thanks guys.
ALBANESE: See you.
PYNE: He’s not so bad.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.