Subjects: South Australian accent; Wentworth; negative gearing; National Party.
HOST: Meanwhile, back in Australia our two next guests – working hard, Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you. I almost resigned from this segment, when I rang in they thought I was Christopher Pyne.
HOST: Is that right?
PYNE: Moving up in the world, good luck to you.
ALBANESE: I’m offended.
HOST: Does that happen very often to you, Albo?
ALBANESE: Never! Never ever.
HOST: You are quite different blokes, aren’t you?
PYNE: He’s starting to take on all my mannerisms and voice; he’s becoming a South Australian.
HOST: They don’t speak very elegantly, the Sydney people, do they, Chris?
PYNE: But obviously Anthony is learning, which is great.
ALBANESE: I’m learning to speak properly.
HOST: He’ll be saying ‘dance’ and ‘vase’ soon.
PYNE: Yes, and ‘graph’.
HOST: Graph, the graph.
PYNE: And ‘pool’ and ‘school’ rather than pool and school.
HOST: Different accents. So if you read some of the commentary this week, you might believe the seat of Wentworth was actually situated on another planet. What do you make of the result on the weekend, Christopher Pyne? And is there any chance that it will be replicated or any of the sentiment is, across the rest of Australia?
PYNE: Well, I think it was entirely expected because the local member in Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull, was very popular in his electorate and they were very upset with the way he was replaced as Prime Minister and they wanted to make their annoyance well known. It doesn’t mean that will be the result at the general election, and there’s lots of examples of by-elections that have been lost by governments and then subsequently returned the following election. Like Canberra, like the seat in Wollongong that was lost to the Greens by Labor during the Keating Government. So these kinds of things do happen. The important thing is, as I said to The Advertiser yesterday, politicians have got to stop talking about politics like it’s a parlour game – which is what Labor is desperate for us to do. And we have to talk about what’s important to people, which is what the Government is trying to deliver and has been delivering, which is good economic growth and jobs, good social reforms that people want to see happen, to increase equality and compassion in our community and that’s exactly what we’re getting on with.
HOST: What about your take out from it, Albo? Because obviously you can take a sort of perverse delight in the Liberals misery, understandably. But the Labor vote was pretty abysmal, wasn’t even 10 per cent, was it?
ALBANESE: Labor voters are smart and they knew that Labor couldn’t win the seat and they voted strategically to send the Government into minority, which the Government itself said would create economic instability before the by-election. And now they’re saying: ‘nothing to see here’. And the problem with the analysis that says it’s all about Malcolm Turnbull – I agree that in part it certainly was about anger about his removal as a local member – but the problem with that analysis is, that should have been consistent. Whereas what happened was that the Liberal vote got worse as it got closer to the by-election. That is, further away from the coup. And that’s because the Government had a debacle of a week in the lead up to the by-election.
PYNE: That’s not true, actually.
ALBANESE: It is true. You look at the postal votes, you look …
PYNE: I can tell you the polling.
ALBANESE: You look at the postal votes as they’re coming in, instead of being around two thirds of the vote; yesterday’s results were just 55 for the Coalition when they needed 70. The fact is the prepolls; the Government did better in people who voted early than they did on the day. And that’s because decisions like floating moving the Embassy to Jerusalem, voting for: ‘It’s OK to be White’ – all of those things were diabolical in the electorate.
PYNE: I can tell you that on the Monday before the by-election. Our polling had us at 41 per cent two-party preferred and we’ll end up at about 49 per cent two-party preferred. So in fact in the last week we pulled the vote back when people realised in Wentworth that we could actually lose the seat or that we were going to lose the seat. But I do think people are thoroughly sick of talking about all these internals, this inside the bubble conversation in Canberra. People want us to get on with the job and that’s what we’re trying to do with economic growth and new jobs and projects like the defence industry in South Australia. And I’m sure that Labor and the Press Gallery are desperate for us to talk about ourselves. We’ve got to stop it and get on and talk about new things. Wentworth was lost; we know that, that by-election is over. We’re getting on with it now.
HOST: To Chris’ point …
ALBANESE: But there is still no policy on climate change, there is still no energy policy.
PYNE: That’s rubbish. We have reduced our carbon emissions dramatically in the last five years.
ALBANESE: Thanks to the renewable energy target, but the trend now is going …
PYNE: Well, I didn’t interrupt you.
ALBANESE: You did actually, Christopher.
HOST: All right, guys.
PYNE: No, no. You went on for a very long period of time.
ALBANESE: Which you interrupted.
PYNE: Because you went on for far too long.
HOST: Albo, when Kerryn Phelps takes her seat is the first thing, or one of the first things that Labor does, to move a no-confidence motion in the Government, to see if you can push the Government over?
ALBANESE: Well, we’ll wait and see what we do on the day. And I probably won’t foreshadow it on your show, weeks in advance, as much as you would like me to do in a debate with the Leader of the House of Representatives. Nice try.
HOST: Doesn’t it risk perpetuating the point that Chris was making which is politics as a parlour game? You know surely the Government should last until next year, shouldn’t it?
ALBANESE: Well we’re not responsible for the chaos, David, they are. This is completely self-inflicted. There is no reason why Malcolm Turnbull should have been removed. I used to think he was very competitive. They were on 49 per cent of the two-party preferred vote, which if you look at what’s happened in previous elections is actually a winning position for a Government at this stage in the cycle. And Malcolm Turnbull had led on 58 consecutive Newspolls as preferred Prime Minister.
HOST: Albo, far be it for I to introduce policy into a conversation about politics, but is it giving you any pause at the moment – what’s happening to housing prices on the eastern seaboard, regarding your negative gearing policy? There is some modelling that’s been done by the Master Builders Australia, that’s on the front page of The Australian this morning. That says over the first five years of the negative gearing cutting plan there would be 42,000 dwellings fewer built at a value of some $12 billion to the construction industry. Is it time to pump the brakes and have a rethink here?
ALBANESE: Well the MBA should be embarrassed by this. It doesn’t model our policy. Our policy, of course, is grandfathered. So it’ll have no impact on anyone who currently has a negatively geared property. The other thing it will do is continue to allow future negative gearing for new property. That is new construction. It will boost supply. And that’s why, when I’ve met with the construction sector, they are supportive of the policy because they know that it will actually boost supply and therefore will boost jobs.
HOST: Setting aside the MBA then. Just the direction the prices are heading in …
PYNE: I’m still here by the way. I’m still on the radio.
HOST: You’ll get a shot in a second. The direction that prices are heading in, on the eastern seaboard, does that give you any pause?
ALBANESE: Well, no. Because what is occurring is essentially what was always going to happen which is a more sensible approach to price. It was out of control. You can’t continue to spiral. You can’t have property prices increase by almost double figures on an annual basis into the never never. Because eventually the market works to an equilibrium. What our policy will do is increase supply which is good policy. It will stop as well, the situation whereby a first home buyer trying to get into the market has to compete with – on an unfair playing field, compete with an investor who can afford to bid more because it’s going to be a write-off on their tax.
HOST: Hey Chris, just to your point, I know that the default position of the Libs is to say that you never want to comment on what’s happening within the National Party …
PYNE: No, I’m not commenting on that, because you’ve just allowed Anthony Albanese to give an unpaid political advertisement for the last five minutes.
HOST: You’re allowed to respond to that.
ALBANESE: You’re so precious.
PYNE: You’re not now shifting to another internal conversation.
ALBANESE: You’re so precious.
HOST: No, Chris.
PYNE: And now he’s interrupting again.
HOST: Hang on.
ALBANESE: Harden up.
PYNE: Not fair.
HOST: Chris, you’re more than welcome to respond to that.
PYNE: Not fair.
HOST: You’re more than welcome to respond to what Albo just said, obviously.
PYNE: Well, I would. Because the Labor Party’s policy on negative gearing will actually smash house prices and put up rent. And everyone knows that. And the Master Builders have put out the modelling because it’s true. It’s not party political modelling and Anthony’s decided to shoot the messenger, rather than actually focus on the issue. And the issue is that Labor wants to take us back to the 1970s, not just on industrial relations, as we saw yesterday with industry wide bargaining being their new policy. But they also want to have five new taxes. One of them is to increase Capital Gains Tax on everything by 50 per cent and the other is to abolish negative gearing as we know it. Which we know will push up house prices. Sorry, push down house prices and increase rents. And that’s bad for renters and it’s bad for people who own houses and this will be a red hot-button issue at the next federal election.
ALBANESE: Except that’s not our policy.
HOST: The final question I was going to ask you, Chris. Are you confident or do you believe that the National Party are going to heed your message about not focusing on yourselves? Because it sounds like the leadership dramas that we’ve seen with you guys are about to be replicated there.
PYNE: Well, I’m focusing on policy and I’m focusing on good outcomes in defence and defence industry, on national security, on economic security. We’ve created over a million jobs since 2013. A record number of jobs. And we’re focusing on growth. We have growth at 3.7 per cent, which is higher than any other country in the G7. The next election will be fought around tax. It’ll be fought around the industrial relations wrecking ball that Labor wants to put through the economy, and I’m not focusing or commenting on internal party matters.
HOST: Good stuff. Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese, thanks for joining us.
ALBANESE: See you next week.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.