Subjects: Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Matt Canavan
PRESENTER: We tend to think of the war in Two Tribes as divided along party lines, but this morning I think we kind of figure it might be along state lines. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good morning to you both.
PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ALBANESE: Good morning.
PRESENTER: Can we start with you Christopher? We’ve got the Greens calling for a Senate inquiry. We’ve got Jay Weatherill in this state calling for a judicial inquiry. He’s written to your leader Malcolm Turnbull with regard to Four Corners’ report on the alleged rorting of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the allegation that the NSW Government was fully aware that this was going on. What is the appropriate response?
PYNE: Well Will, I don’t think there’ll be any kind of split between Anthony and I because the bottom line is if the law has been broken then whoever has broken it should have the book thrown at them. No-one is trying to pretend otherwise so some of these hyper-ventilated calls for various different inquiries – what we need is the inquiry that the NSW Government has announced to get to the bottom of these allegations and then to respond to those recommendations from that review, that report. If somebody has broken the law; if somebody has tried to get around the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and benefit certain people, well then they should face the full force of the law.
PRESENTER: So it is good enough that they are going to investigate themselves?
PYNE: Well the appropriate investigating authority is the NSW Government because it occurred in NSW. Now everyone has to try and be sensible about this. If the law was broken in South Australia, the South Australian Government would be investigating it. If it was in Victoria, it would be the Victorian Government. It happened in NSW. It happens with the NSW Government. There’s no need to have Senate inquiries and the Parliament looking at this. The appropriate authority to look at it is the government who is responsible. And let’s not forget that we have actually delivered the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full. All those basin states and the Commonwealth have achieved the 2100 gigalitres of water being returned to the Murray-Darling Basin, which is great for South Australia but it’s also great for the envirionment.
PRESENTER: Do we definitively know that in light of this report?
PYNE: Of course we do. There is no suggestion that because of these allegations being made about one of the 30 – one of the 30 – catchment areas in the Murray-Darling Basin, that somehow any of those statistics are in doubt. There is no suggestion of that. If somebody has broken the law they should face the full force of the law. But that doesn’t means that South Australians should think that the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has not been delivered in full. It has been delivered in full and if Jay Weatherill wants to play politics with this, well I say shame on him, because we should be sticking with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and following the full force of the law and not trying to pretend it is anything else.
PRESENTER: Anthony Albanese I put the same question then to you. What is an appropriate response or means of inquiry following Four Corners’ report?
ALBANESE: Well that is a fairly stunning statement from Christopher Pyne. Standing up for NSW against South Australia is something I wouldn’t have thought he would have done. If the Four Corners Report is correct then the NSW Government has turned a blind eye while irrigators steal from the taxpayers – one – of Australia – so from everyone. And that’s the allegation here. But secondly of course because South Australia is the downstream state then it is ripping off South Australia in particular. I support totally Jay Weatherill’s call for a judicial inquiry through the COAG process. That would be appropriate. You’d get that national oversight. This is an agreement that goes beyond just one state and has implications that the upstream states can essentially rip off those who rely upon them doing the right thing, honouring the agreements and delivering water down into South Australia. So I certainly think that it’s a reasonable thing to do, to ask for the judicial inquiry. It can be done quickly and efficiently and can get to the bottom of these very serious allegations.
PRESENTER: The State Opposition in New South Wales Anthony Albanese is calling for an ICAC inquiry. You are a bit closer to it there in NSW than we are. Is that appropriate?
ALBANESE: Well that would be appropriate as well because it would appear that some of the bureaucrats in particular in the NSW Government have questions to answer and ICAC is the appropriate body to look at that.
PRESENTER: Now gentlemen, I’ve got my pocket Constitution, which I do actually have, on me and I am looking at Section 44.
ALBANESE: Haven’t we all these days?
PRESENTER: I know. But you fellows might start reading it. But Senator Matt Canavan – here’s some free advice, or let’s mark this down and see if I am right, and I am, is that if he is a citizen of Italy, then he is disqualified, even if what he is saying it true, he had no knowledge of it. What do you think about that?
PYNE: Well Alex the truth is that if somebody can go along and make somebody else a citizen of another nation …
PRESENTER: I’m not saying it is fair, Christopher. I’m not saying it’s fair.
PYNE: … and is able to apply for that citizenship, not get that person to sign any documents despite them being an adult and the government of that country doesn’t think that it should check with the person who is being made a citizen, then I think that is a pretty wrong situation. I think common sense tells us that is ridiculous.
PRESENTER: I agree it is but a don’t think, the Constitution is not giving you much choice.
PYNE: Well let’s see what the High Court says.
PRESENTER: I’m just picking it here. It’s like picking the Crows winning the grand final.
PYNE: Well you are a marvellous lawyer but I’m not sure you can speak for the High Court yet.
PRESENTER: Well I speak for the majesty of the law. Anthony, what do you think? It’s not like it’s a criminal penalty. So it’s not like he is going to get in trouble for it. But I think he would actually …
ALBANESE: He could well lose his Senate spot.
PRESENTER: Yes. Well that’s trouble. I agree with that.
ALBANESE: It’s interesting that this happened at the same time that we had Italy change its electoral process so that they actually have members of Parliament elected from Oceania and Africa to sit in the Italian Parliament around the time that these applications were made to be citizens. So I don’t know what the motivation was.
PRESENTER: What are you suggesting it is? That he wanted to run for Parliament there?
PYNE: But he didn’t even know about it.
ALBANESE: No. I don’t know. But his mother or what have you, after all that time to apply for citizenship, I don’t know what her motivation was.
PRESENTER: I don’t think it’s malicious but we’ve got a document which one of our listeners sent to us. It is the application for citizenship which will be the point. That’s why I’m by no means clear that he will be found he is actually a citizen. But it is written for convenience in English and Italian and the applicant signs. So we couldn’t see, thinking about it here, that somebody else could actually make you a citizen. As Will said, it would be a great way for Malcolm, for the Prime Minister, to get rid of Tony Abbott – just make him a citizen of something.
ALBANESE: No doubt the details will all come out as part of the High Court process.
PYNE: Exactly, The High Court can rule on it.
PRESENTER: I know it is but the Constitution does seem absolute doesn’t it?
ALBANESE: It’s pretty clear.
PYNE: The High Court might find that he was never a citizen of another country because he never signed the form.
PRESENTER: Yes that’s the best outcome for him. Because, there’s no joy in that result, really none of them. This all seems a bit disappointing.
ALBANESE: I do find it extraordinary that someone could be made a citizen of a country without applying.
PRESENTER: It’s how you get rid of your enemies. It’s how you get rid of them.
PYNE: I hope the High Court will find – it’s a matter for them of course – but I am sure the High Court will ask what steps did he take to renounce his citizenship – because that is kind of the test – and as he never knew that he was a citizen, I don’t know what steps he could have taken to renounce it.
PRESENTER: Yes extraordinary times. Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.