PRESENTER: It is that time on a Wednesday morning for Two Tribes and this morning Christopher Pyne’s not with us yet. Anthony Albanese joins us on the line. Maybe Albo this is a bit of a look forward to what Parliament’s going to be like next week. Chris hasn’t called in yet!
ANTHONY ALBANESE: They’re not turning up to anything!
PRESENTER: Hey, just quickly Albo, hold that thought mate because we are trying to get Chris on the line – it’s just a last minute glitch.
ALBANESE: Don’t bother. I can speak on his behalf.
PRESENTER: Mate, I’m sure you’d love to.
ALBANESE: On behalf of the government, this government is hopeless.
PRESENTER: Hey, no, before we do get to the politics and before we do get Chris on the line because we are going to do that we can report that right now Ange Postecoglou is announcing that he is resigning as the Socceroos head coach having got Australia into the World Cup for what is it, a fourth consecutive World Cup. He is saying right now at the press conference with the FFA with David Gallop next to him, that he’s walking away from the job.
PRESENTER: We’ll do a full wrap of that at 8.50am perhaps. It is that press conference that has Christopher Pyne’s attention this morning but we will proceed with just the one tribe.
ALBANESE: He thinks the Socceroos are the basketball team, mate.
PRESENTER: What about your mob in Sydney last night, mate? Do you think you can get more than 12,000 people to turn up to the FFA final next time you host it though?
ALBANESE: [Laughs] How’d you go?
PRESENTER: Not that well but we didn’t have much help from the referee.
PRESENTER: Or your ball boys. Alright, Christopher Pyne, he joins us now. Minister, good morning.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning. I’m sorry, I’m in a tunnel in Sydney and I kept dropping out.
PRESENTER: You should speak to the local member, what part of Sydney are you in? We might have him on the line.
PYNE: I’m on my way to Baulkam Hills.
PRESENTER: We’ll kick off with you, Chris. The decision by the government to cancel next week’s sitting of parliament has been universally criticised. Is the government running scared?
PYNE: Well, look it’s been criticised by the usual suspects in the media and the Labor Party, quite frankly. But it’s a perfectly sensible thing to do while we wait for the Senate to deal with the marriage equality bill which we say is the priority between now and Christmas along with dealing with citizenship and we do this quite often. We did it in October 2017 so that the Prime Minister could go to the Beersheba commemorations. We did it last May in 2016 so that we could move the Budget earlier.
PRESENTER: So you haven’t done it because you’re worried that the government’s going to fall? I mean, you haven’t got John Alexander. You haven’t got Barnaby Joyce. There’s apparantley another bloke who we don’t know who he is yet, he’s spoken to Andrew Bolt saying he’s thinking about pulling the pin. It looks like you’re just packing it, that the government’s about to fall over.
PYNE: David, the government isn’t about to fall because Cathy McGowan and Rebekha Sharkie have guaranteed they will support the government on matters of confidence and supply and I’m not going to respond to rumors peddled on the television based on anonymous sources. I mean, if people actually are saying that, they should put their names to it. It’s a ridiculous thing for us to be asked to respond to gossip.
PRESENTER: Albo, whatever criticisms you guys have of the government’s decision, surely it’s not going to transpire that Bill Shorten is going to fly every Labor MP to a non-sitting week at public expense to make a point?
ALBANESE: The fact is that we’re already booked in. I was Leader of the House for six years. There were never changes to schedules of these sort of notices.
What we have with Christopher’s own statement, in his own words ‘oh, we’re just waiting for marraige equality, we’re waiting for the Senate to deal with a Private Members’ Bill – this is a government putting their hand up and saying they don’t have any government legislation worthy of discussion next week.
The point is not whether Labor MPs are flying in. The point is why aren’t Coalition MPs sticking to their schedule, sticking to the bookings that they would have made, turning up. There are a range of other things that happen around Parliament. Next week I have meetings with local government, I have meetings with the maritime industry who have a big forum. The Pharmacy Guild.
PRESENTER: Yeah, but beyond Shadow Cabinet. Beyond things like the scheduled shadow ministerial meeting, surely you’re not going to fly all the backbenchers there business class and get ’em all claiming TA as they normally do so you can just stand there saying this is the weak democracy guide.
ALBANESE: We have a caucus meeting scheduled at this stage for next week. Whether it goes ahead or not will be a decision for others. But the truth is that Parliament should be sitting next week. There is no excuse to put it off.
If the government puts it off, what they should do is actually not fly MPs in, they should fly one bloke in. He should visit Yarralumla and call an election. If the government has nothing to do, is putting its hand up and saying it’s over, we’re hopeless, we give up, then the Australian people should get a say in that.
PYNE: Bill Shorten wants to spend $870,000 of taxpayers’ money on a stunt.
ALBANESE: Rubbish. You’re just making it up. Is Cabinet sitting next week?
PYNE: Well, of course Cabinet is sitting next week.
ALBANESE: Ah! So you’re flying in for a meeting next week.
PYNE: We have Cabinet every week, Anthony.
PRESENTER: Hey Chris, just to Albo’s point –
ALBANESE: We have Shadow Cabinet. We have caucuses.
PYNE: Making what decisions?
PRESENTER: Guys. Just in reply to Albo’s – in reply to that point that Albo made, Chris, do you think this government’s going to last full term or would it be easier and more effective to eliminate all of the confusion at the moment by just calling an election?
PYNE: Labor would love to have an election. But people aren’t just going to hand Bill Shorten government. We’ve got 18 months to –
ALBANESE: So would the mob, mate. They’re waiting.
PYNE: We’ve got 18 months before this term finishes in July 2019 and I’m absolutley confident that the government will serve full term. I’ve been in the Parliament when John Howard was 57-43 behind, when Mark Latham was the leader of the Liberal Party [sic] about four months out from the 2004 election and we won. Polls come and go. The only poll that matters is election day and Labor managed to lose four elections in a row –
PRESENTER: So did Mark Latham, sadly for the Liberals.
PYNE: Every election time they thought they were going to win. Now, I think that the Australian public get that this government is getting on with creating jobs – 371,000 in the last 12 months – dealing with issues like electricity and cost of living while all Labor does – all Labor does is play politics every day.
PRESENTER: The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke, Christopher Pyne at the Business Council of Australia event on Monday night and put tax cuts on the agenda albeit in the absence of any detail. How do you stave off the idea that this was a break glass in case of emergency announcement sans detail just to try and circuit break the media cycle?
PYNE: Well, we have income tax cuts in the Coalition’s DNA. During the Howard and Costello years we reduced tax in every single budget. Every single budget after the first year in Howard-Costello –
PRESENTER: Okay, alright. Well that’s ancient history. What about Monday night?
PYNE: Unlike Labor [inaudible] to always put up taxes as we all know, as they’ve done in South Australia and will continue to do federally. They always put up taxes. We know that Bill’s got six new taxes or increases in taxes in his pocket right now.
ALBANESE: You have legislation before the Parliament right now to increase taxes. That legislation should be being debated next week.
PRESENTER: What’s Labor’s position though Albo on tax cuts?
PYNE: – and we want to reduce income tax.
PRESENTER: On a broad point of principle, Albo. Would Labor consider supporting tax cuts for middle income earners and what’s your outer limit now as to what constitutes rich?
ALBANESE: When we were in government we implemented tax cuts, income tax cuts, significant income tax cuts.
PYNE: Actually, they were our tax cuts.
PRESENTER: Argh. Can we just refocus the conversation in terms of the today, the now and what’s coming up as opposed to ancient history for a second? Albo, tax cuts, if they’re on the agenda, is it something you’ll potentially support?
ALBANESE: We’ll wait and see what they are, mate.
PRESENTER: You’ll wait and see what they are. Alright. Chris Pyne, when are we going to see some detail?
PYNE: Well, obviously we’ve got the Budget in May next year.
PRESENTER: Why announce that something’s on the agenda in November if we’re not going to have detail for another 6-7 months?
ALBANESE: It’s a ‘look over here’ moment.
PYNE: We want people to understand that the Coalition intention and our desire and ambition is to reduce the burden of income tax on middle income earners because we get that wages haven’t been growing fast enough. We want higher wages growth but in the absence of higher wages –
ALBANESE: Wages have collapsed under you.
PYNE: They haven’t collapsed. They’ve grown, but they haven’t grown as much as we would like them to.
ALBANESE: They’re not even keeping up –
PYNE: Stop the hyperbole.
PRESENTER: I think Chris is going into a tunnel. I think Chris actually is going into a tunnel there in North Sydney so we are going to leave it there. Felt a bit like the guys were trying to cram four Question Times’ worth of aggro into that one session of Two Tribes. So we’ll see whether government does indeed –
PRESENTER: Government by Two Tribes. There’s an idea. We could have five Two Tribes next week in the absence of Question Time.
PRESENTER: It’s not a bad idea.
PRESENTER: It would be cheaper.
PRESENTER: Yeah, it would be.
PRESENTER: Don’t need to fly 220 odd people to Canberra to do it.
PRESENTER: Cost of a phone call.
PRESENTER: Get a couple of them on the phone. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, always a good segment. Thank you for joining us.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.