Subjects: Citizenship; marriage equality.
HOST: A big good morning to Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
HOST: Now we will kick off with you Chris as we normally do. The Government has clearly taken a bit of a hit in the polls with the distraction caused by the citizenship drama, but do you think that Bill Shorten is being a bit cute by refusing to release documentation proving once and for all that he and other Labor MPs are not dual citizens?
PYNE: Well Anthony Albanese has released his documentation, so if it is good enough for Anthony, it should be good enough for everybody else and the question here is why would Bill Shorten be refusing to release his documentation? Well the answer obviously is that he is worried that there are Labor MPs who don’t have documentation. So if he releases his, others will be forced to release theirs and we will discover potentially that there are Labor MPs who should be referred to the High Court. So I guess he doesn’t want to break the dam wall by releasing his. But I notice Anthony’s released his birth certificate showing that he didn’t know that he had an Italian father and that is the end of the matter from his point of view.
HOST: To you Albo, has your decision to do that caused a problem for Bill Shorten?
ALBANESE: Well I haven’t done that. Don’t get sucked in by Christopher’s absurd spin. Look, for goodness, sake, I released a book, it’s written by Karen Middleton, available in all good books stores including there in Adelaide, called Albanese: Telling it Straight, and it outlines in a great deal of detail my origins and that is what I have pointed people towards. It is there for all to see in 320 pages.
HOST: But didn’t you do something extra though in the last 48 hours because the way it was written in The Australian it sounded to me like you had shown that reporter your citizenship papers to knock the citizenship speculation on the head.
ALBANESE: I don’t have citizenship papers. People who have wanted to see my birth certificate, I haven’t released it, but people have seen it and that arose out of talking with journalists about how silly it was that in spite of the fact that we had this rather comprehensive outline of the somewhat unusual circumstances of my birth, people were still carrying on and it led to David Speers making a bit of a joke on Sky News that I was the Jon Snow of the Federal Parliament in a Game of Thrones reference. Game of Thrones is a bit like Federal Parliament from time to time.
HOST: Yes. I think Federal Parliament is more bloody.
PYNE: You did show people your birth certificate so that is showing people your evidence.
HOST: Well Chris Pyne, will you guys pro-actively refer members of the Labor Party to the High Court to get this matter resolved?
PYNE: I think the Australian public are pretty sick of this issue and that’s why it needs to be resolved by the High Court. There are a lot more important issues around at the moment, things like creating jobs, creating investment …
HOST: Sure. But with a view to ending it, will you be referring their members over whom there is suspicion to the High Court?
PYNE: Well the High Court has a directions hearing on the 24th of August. They will start the process of deciding what Section 44 means in the Constitution in the modern period. I think they will resolve it pretty expeditiously and we will all be able to move on one way of the other. I think most people think it’s just not common sense that you could have absolutely no idea that you are a citizen of another country but somehow that means you have an allegiance to a foreign power. The High Court is the right place to clear this up and I am quite happy to leave it to them while I get on with …
HOST: I will try this one more time. Have you made any decision about whether you will refer any of those Labor MPs over whom there is a suspicion to the court?
PYNE: No, I haven’t made a decision about that.
ALBANESE: No and of course they won’t because such an action would mean that majority governments in future could refer people who they don’t like to a court. I mean, that would be just absurd. This is an attempt to reverse the onus of proof. Labor has rigorous procedures in place and I am absolutely confident there are no issues with any Labor MPs. It’s as simple as that.
HOST: But the doubt still remains Albo because …
ALBANESE: Oh, there is no doubt. It is like, you know …
HOST: But there is no compunction for them to release documents and indeed in some cases there are no documents anyway so it can’t be proved or disproved.
ALBANESE: Well, why should they?
HOST: Well can I ask you the question backwards then? Should Bill Shorten and the other Labor MPs including Penny Wong do what you have done, either through showing …
ALBANESE: What, have a biography about their origins?
HOST: Have a biography revealing their own backgrounds.
ALBANESE: Have a biography revealing they didn’t know who their father was?
PYNE: You released your birth certificate.
ALBANESE: I have not released my birth certificate.
PYNE: You showed your birth certificate to The Australian, which is a lot more than Bill Shorten has done.
ALBANESE: Well this is absurd. Labor has appropriate mechanisms in place and this is just an attempt to cloud the fact that since the Liberal Party went out there – I note there’s no Liberal Party members have issues either. Labor and Liberal both have their act together. The problem here is the Greens and the Nationals who have real issues in terms of the suggestions of breaches of the Constitution. There are people who are putting their hand up. I read today Barnaby Joyce and Matt Canavan both conceding before the court in their submissions that they were citizens of another country apart from Australia and, you know, that hasn’t happened with either Labor members or Liberal members.
HOST: Just finally and I will just get your thoughts on this Chris for time reasons, are you comfortable with the manner in which Tony Abbott is using his fairly booming voice to urge people to vote no against same-sex marriage on the basis of other extraneous issues – political correctness and so forth?
PYNE: Well the only question before the plebiscite is do we believe it is time to change the law to allow same sex couples to marry. That’s the only question. There are no other issues. Tony Abbott is very good at campaigning, particularly about something in which he feels strongly. He campaigned against the republic and the line that he used is that you shouldn’t trust politicians with the republic, in spite of the fact that he was a politician himself. So he will try and find a line to undermine the case for yes for same-sex marriage. I don’t think the Australian public believe this is a vote about anything other than allowing same-sex couples the same rights to marry as non-same-sex couples. I’m not in favour of marriage equality in spite of being a conservative. I am in favour of it because I am a conservative. I think more people should have access to the institution of marriage. I think the children in same-sex households should be able to have the stability that that union brings and while Tony Abbott might well try and muddy the waters and make the vote about something other than what it is, it’s a pretty straightforward question – do you or don’t you agree that same-sex couples should have the chance to marry?
HOST: Chris Pyne, Anthony Albanese, thank you both for your time.
ALBANESE: Bravo! I do think that Tony Abbott is reminding people not that he is an effective politician, but that he is an effective wrecker.
HOST: Good stuff. Albo, Christopher Pyne, we will do it all again next week. Thank you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.