Subjects: North Korea, statues, reconciliation.
HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese for Two Tribes. Good morning to you both.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning team.
HOST: Now, unsurprisingly we are going to kick off by discussing North Korea – yesterday, another display of belligerence from Pyongyang. What do you think is the best way for the Western world to respond to this threat Chris Pyne?
PYNE: Well the best way is to ensure there’s no mistakes made and no shots fired in error that leads to a conflagration that takes the lives of tens of thousands if not more South Koreans particularly. The way to do that of course is to get China to tighten on the sanctions on North Korea. They have agreed to do that. The UN Security Council most recently imposed further sanctions – economic sanctions, travel and other sanctions, on North Korea. All the countries involved have agreed to that including China and China is implementing those. That’s a very important development because it indicates that China is beyond patience with the North Korean regime. Of course, North Korea needs to understand the resolve of the United States and her allies in ensuring that North Korea doesn’t take any steps to attack South Korea or any other country in the region and I think that’s pretty clear. So we are certainly doing everything we can to ensure that North Korea remains within its borders and that’s what we will continue to do.
HOST: What’s Labor’s position on this Albo? Are you guys lock step with the Government in terms of advocating that approach, where China muscles up and we maintain a sanctions approach to this at the moment?
ALBANESE: We are as one on this issue and, I think, as one with humanity. We need to make sure that any resolution of the issue is done peacefully. It clearly is, as crazy as we might think the North Korean regime is, a tit-for-tat with weapons would be a very bad outcome for the people particularly of the Korean Peninsula, but potentially of the entire region. So we support the Government in its very strong condemnation. That is appropriate. It is an escalation of the conflict to have the missile fly over Hokkaido in Japan.
HOST: Chris Pyne, Greg Sheridan has written in The Australian about Australia investigating a missile defence shield. Is that something that the Government needs to consider?
PYNE: Well the Government of course has some measures in place to protect Australia from missile attack. One of those of course is the replacement for our current missile defences around our deployed forces which is the surface-to-air missile defence system which I announced in June this year at a cost of $1.3 billion being implemented by Raytheon Australia. We of course would be very unlikely to be able to get a land-based defence missile shield similar to the United States shield in place any time soon. It will take years and cost upwards of over $10 billion to achieve. But there are other ways of course to protect our northern approaches through seaborne missile defence shields and we have of course very advanced air warfare destroyers built here in Adelaide. As you know, this Government is committed to the Future Frigates Program which is an anti-submarine warfare frigate, but also has capabilities beyond submarine warfare and we are looking closely, considering all the threats to Australia and how best to respond. But there’s not only one response, which is a land-based defensive missile shield similar to the Americans. There are other ways of protecting Australia from inter-continental ballistic missiles and of course we are always considering those.
HOST: Changing tack now, Ablo can I just get you clarify …
ALBANESE: That’s good. We are at risk of becoming one tribe rather than two tribes on these issues.
HOST: Don’t worry. We are going to lob a few hand grenades at you now. Hey Albo, what is Labor’s exact position on whether the inscriptions on these statues need to be changed to more accurately reflect our indigenous heritage and history, because yesterday it sounded a bit like Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek were backing away from the idea of making any changes to them despite Mr Shorten saying on Monday that they might need to be rewritten.
ALBANESE: Well my position on these issues is that there are far greater issues facing the first Australians than what’s on a statue. The fact is that that is a historical statue. It’s in Hyde Park, which I used to walk through on the way to school and from every day. This all came about really because of the debate about Australia Day and about the origins of European settlement and how it should be commemorated. I think personally that Australia Day is an important day which recognises the fact of European settlement that was an important part in our history. But also, at the commemorations I go to, also look backwards, not just forwards, and do acknowledge that with the European colonisation here in Australia the first Australians suffered greatly and that history is examined. I think that in terms of reconciliation, which is what we need, reconciliation between the original Australians who have such a rich history and those who have come since 1788, it can’t be achieved if it’s a conflict. It, by definition, has to be together. So I want to see less of a divisive debate and more a debate about how we go forward.
HOST: We had the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, on Leon’s show here on 5AA a couple of days ago Chris Pyne and he said that any suggestion that we should change these inscriptions was sort of tantamount to a Stalinist air-brushing of history. Do you think that that is an over-statement or do you think that that is the way that people would regard this sort of retrospective rewording of what it says on some of our monuments?
PYNE: Well Anthony at least has described his own position very clearly and perfectly sensibly. The problem with Bill Shorten’s position on the issue of changing monuments is that, as usual, he has an overactive political correctness gland and he wants to say to the crowd that he is talking to whatever they want to hear. So his initial statements about needing to change the inscriptions on monuments was designed to impress the Green-leaning Left voters and then of course he realised that that wasn’t the view of most Australians, who recognise that there is much in our history about which we should be embarrassed and much in our history about which we should be proud. But that’s history. That’s the nature of the beast that it is not always perfect and trying to airbrush that or change it of course is quite impossible.
HOST: Is that a fair assessment, do you think, Albo? Did your boss change positions on this?
ALBANESE: Look I don’t follow every word, but what I do know is that Bill Shorten’s been very consistent about supporting reconciliation. He has taken on the portfolio of Indigenous Affairs himself and he is very passionate about the issues surrounding the first Australians and closing the gap practically moving forward.
HOST: Anthony Albanese, Christopher Pyne, thanks very much for joining us this morning.
PYNE: It was a pleasure thanks.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.