Subjects: Citizenship, New Zealand, Ship building
HOST: Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good morning to you both.
PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ALBANESE: Good morning.
HOST: We’ll start with you if we can Chris. Now this attempt by the Foreign Minister to sort of suggest that relations between Canberra and Wellington have hit some sort of all time low, that was just a bit of a beat up to distract attention away from the fact that the Barnaby Joyce situation is totally embarrassing for the Government, wasn’t it?
PYNE: Not at all. This is a very serious matter. Now obviously the relationship between the New Zealand Government and the Australian Government remains very strong but what Labor has tried to do is use New Zealand Labour, which is in Opposition, not in Government, to undermine Australia. Now take New Zealand out and insert China or South Africa or Indonesia. I mean can you imagine what the reaction would be in the public and the media if it was the Labor Party conspiring with a political party in any other country besides New Zealand?
HOST: But it wasn’t. But isn’t that the point though, like it’s not Vladimir Putin, it’s the Kiwis? It’s like the seventh state of Australia.
PYNE: No the point is the Labour Leader in New Zealand has described it as disgraceful, unnecessary and appalling that her MP would behave in this way. Now, if it is good enough for the New Zealand Labour Leader to recognise the seriousness and inappropriateness of it, why is it Bill Shorten thinks it’s actually a hilarious joke and allowing his Foreign Shadow Minister, Penny Wong, to get her chief of staff to try and undermine the Australian Government through the New Zealand Labour Party. It’s Labor’s tactic to laugh this off. The truth is New Zealand…
ALBANESE: We are laughing at you.
PYNE: New Zealand is a foreign government and the New Zealand Labour Party has been attempted to be used by Australian Labor to undermine the Australian Government. It is scandalous and the New Zealand Labour Party Leader recognises it. Labor can laugh all they like. If the shoe was on the other foot; if this was a Liberal Opposition doing this; the media would be screaming from the roof tops.
HOST: Albo, given that the New Zealand Labour Leader has criticised the conduct of the MP who did do this, do you think that it was wrong the Penny Wong’s chief of staff did get involved with this covert chat about Barnaby’s citizenship status?
ALBANESE: Oh for goodness sake. Yesterday Barnaby Joyce admitted that he was a Kiwi, Julie Bishop did everything but declare war against the Kiwis and the Government then lost a vote condemning itself over the Great Barrier Reef. They had an absolute shocker and whoever came up with the strategy – I assume that Chris was outvoted, because he is a smart fellow in the tactics committee – whoever came up with the idea that they would try and question our whole relationship; Julie Bishop yesterday actually said that she wasn’t sure that she could work with a Labour Government if it was elected in New Zealand. So she, as the Foreign Minister, questioned, or intervened effectively, in the New Zealand election, which is being held in one month’s time. It was an extraordinary performance by Julie Bishop.
HOST: So you would do it again Albo?
ALBANESE: Her own side was laughing at her.
HOST: You’d do it again?
ALBANESE: Well what’s happened here …
HOST: If your chief of staff came to you and said to you, I’ve got this plan, we’ll get the New Zealand Labor guys to help us out …
ALBANESE: There was no plan. There was no plan.
HOST: That’s what happened isn’t it?
ALBANESE: No, no. What happened was that …
HOST: But would you do it again?
ALBANESE: … Penny Wong’s staffer, who used to be a chief of staff to a New Zealand MP, has mates in New Zealand and was talking to one of his, the people he knows in New Zealand and the issue of, funnily enough, citizenship of Barnaby Joyce came up. The truth is, but he didn’t ask for a question to be put on the notice paper and the New Zealand Government itself, Bill English, the minister responsible, have said that’s not how this issue came up in terms of the New Zealand Government made the statement; that was because of inquiries by the Fairfax press. That is how this story came out and we had yesterday Barnaby Joyce concede that he only tried to renounce his New Zealand citizenship on the weekend.
HOST: Chris Pyne, if the Government is as angry as it says it is over the manner in which this has been conducted is there any kind of formal complaint that you can issue to Wellington about it?
PYNE: Well I think the Foreign Minister has made it pretty clear that the Government is unimpressed, but so has the New Zealand Government. The New Zealand Government is as unimpressed with the Labor Party in Australia and the Labour Party in New Zealand as we are. So the two governments are in lock step about the inappropriateness of this. The only people who think this is the hilarious joke is the Labor Party because they see politics as a hilarious joke. It’s all about the game. It’s never about the outcome.
ALBANESE: This Government has been reduced to a joke.
PYNE: While the Australian Government is getting with things like the effects test, protection of small business, media law reform, reducing corporate income taxes, creating 250,000 jobs in the last 12 months, the Labor Party, all they do is play political games.
HOST: Chris Pyne, can I …
ALBANESE: The first answer to any question in Parliament from their own side of ministers, usually begins with something like: “Well the Leader of the Opposition’’, or “Bill Shorten.’’ They have nothing to say about governing this country, they have stopped doing it.
HOST: All right, well let’s turn our attention then directly to an issue that has South Australians intrigued this morning. Tory Shepherd’s written a piece, Chris Pyne, in the Advertiser, citing tender documents for the future frigates program saying it contains no requirement to use an Adelaide workforce. Is there a danger here that Adelaide workers could be totally overlooked in this program?
PYNE: There’s absolutely no possibility of that. The ASC workers are the most skilled and experienced shipyard workers in the country. We need five thousand workers at Osborne between now and mid-2020. The idea that every one of those people who wants a job wouldn’t get one is quite frankly ridiculous. This is a absurd media beat up. The truth is every single one of the ASC workers who wants a job on the offshore patrol vessels, and the future frigates or the submarines, thanks to this Government will get one and four thousand more will get jobs who want them at Osborne.
HOST: It’s not just a media beat up though. Nick Xenophon is saying that this is a notice of execution for the ASC.
PYNE: Well that is a lie and Nick Xenophon, who used to be a supporter of ship building in South Australia has now flipped and decided he is going to become the chief critic. That’s his schtick, that’s how he gets himself into the media but obviously the Government is not investing $89 billion in ship building in South Australia in order not to employ the current workforce at Osborne. As I said every one of those people who wants one will get a job.
But the Government is not going to mandate that the ASC workforce must work on whoever wins the bid otherwise the union and the workers, but particularly the union would have the successful bidder over a barrel. They wouldn’t need to negotiate at all. They would be able to write their own cheque and that of course would be quite irresponsible. So the Government is doing everything it can to make sure that we have a continuous naval ship building. The first in Australia’s history. And Nick Xenophon should stop being the chief critic because it buys him a cheap headline in the Advertiser and actually get behind the program.
HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, always a fiery encounter on Two Tribes. We’ll do it all again next week and we look forward to the resumption of hostilities between Canberra and Wellington in Question Time today.
ALBANESE: Let’s hope the Government…We might need those ships.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.