Subjects: Sam Dastyari, Bennelong by-election, year in review.
HOST: The final instalment of Two Tribes for 2017; Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne, good morning to you both.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will and David and Anthony.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day. I will say Merry Christmas given it is the last one.
HOST: Yes. Merry Christmas to you guys as well. Hey, we are going to kick off with you if we can Albo in light of Sam Dastyari’s resignation yesterday. Has Bill’s credibility been damaged by his decision to stick with Sam Dastyari for so long and has his grasp on the leadership been weakened by losing an ally from the New South Wales Right?
ALBANESE: No not at all. The fact is that Sam’s paid a heavy price. There are still people sitting in the House of Reps and the Senate who received donations from Huang Xiangmo. Some hundreds of thousands of dollars have gone to the WA Liberal Party for example that this week, we found out that a notice had gone out asking people to attend a fundraiser for the Liberal Party where the guest speakers weren’t Liberal Party ministers or shadow ministers; they were representatives of the Chinese Government. So I think there are real questions to be asked there. The Sam Dastyari issue has been settled by Sam’s decision to resign from the Senate. Sam was a colourful figure. I think we need more colourful figures in politics.
HOST: He was a bit too colourful though wasn’t he?
ALBANESE: Well I think one of the things about Sam was that he took things on. There was no first, second or third gear, it was always fourth or overdrive and that obviously created some issues with Sam’s judgement and he has paid a price for that. He has acknowledged that.
HOST: And Bill Shorten is safe do you think? He has clearly upset a lot of people in the New South Wales Right.
ALBANESE: Well look, Bill Shorten’s position has been secure. One of the things about the Labor Party is that there hasn’t been undermining. No leader in the time I have been in politics on either side has had more support or a straight run at things than Bill Shorten.
PYNE: That doesn’t sound like a very fulsome endorsement.
ALBANESE: Well the undermining that has gone on is on your side. The question is what will be the implications for Malcolm Turnbull if Kristina Keneally wins the Bennelong by-election on Saturday.
HOST: We are going to talk about Bennelong in a tick. Just to you though Chris on the Dastyari issue, do you think that his resignation is the end of the affair or do you support the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in demanding that he go immediately and that taxpayers stop paying his wage?
PYNE: Well it is a very unusual resignation because it is basically a resignation in the future. He is still a Senator and he says he will resign at the time we come back to the Senate in February and the latest twist in this Dastyari saga is that Kristina Keneally is holding out the prospect of taking his Senate vacancy. So Kristina Keneally has already moved on from Bennelong.
ALBANESE: She will be the Member for Bennelong on Saturday.
PYNE: We suspected the Kristina Keneally was just using Bennelong as a career progression, rather than wanting to represent people of that seat, unlike John Alexander. But she is already not ruling out taking Sam Dastyari’s Senate seat. So she has really proven to everyone …
HOST: Well let’s put that to you Albo. Is that something that you would like Kristina Keneally to consider in the event that she is unsuccessful in her bid to represent the people of Bennelong on the weekend?
ALBANESE: No. I want her to win Bennelong.
HOST: I know. But in the event she doesn’t?
ALBANESE: I will be there handing out. We’ll it’s pretty obvious she is doing a fantastic job and that she is in with a real crack here. She’s campaigning hard. I was in Bennelong yesterday I’ve got to say and if my little …
PYNE: There goes the neighbourhood.
ALBANESE: I notice they have kept you away.
PYNE: I was there this morning my friend
ALBANESE: Oh well, well that will seal it. Kristina Keneally has been elected in Bennelong. Thank you, Christopher.
HOST: Well in the event, Chris Pyne, that Kristina Keneally wins on the weekend, is Malcolm Turnbull’s position tenable?
PYNE: Well Kristina Keneally is already moving on to the Senate vacancy. She has given up on Bennelong. We all knew that she was only using Bennelong as a stepping stone.
ALBANESE: Why are you there handing out?
HOST: Newspoll has it at 50-50.
PYNE: Well I will be there on Saturday handing out as well because I think John Alexander …
ALBANESE: See they are petrified.
PYNE: … really wants to represent the people of Bennelong. He has represented them well for the last seven years. He is a good local member. He cares about issues like congestion and traffic which Kristina Keneally created the problem in the first place and I am very confident that the people of Bennelong will vote for the good hard-working local member.
HOST: So you going to be there handing out how-to-votes are you Chris Pyne?
PYNE: I am.
HOST: How often do you hand out how to votes in other states?
PYNE: Oh when, you know, I’ve got a free Saturday.
ALBANESE: The sign of desperation.
PYNE: I really support John Alexander and I really want him to win.
ALBANESE: Have you got a visa to get into Sydney?
PYNE: I would never go near the Marxist state of Grayndler, that’s for sure.
ALBANESE: They would tar and feather you here comrade.
PYNE: (inaudible). Don’t worry about that.
HOST: Hey Chris, on balance and hand on heart it hasn’t been a great year has it, for you guys?
PYNE: Well we are finishing very well. We had a very successful Budget. We have achieved marriage equality in Australia. We won the New England by-election with the biggest swing to a Government since 1911, which Bill Shorten really can’t take any comfort from that disastrous result. The swing to Barnaby Joyce was bigger than the Labor Party’s primary vote. So we’ve actually ended the year in very good shape. We’ve created 371,000 new jobs, 80 percent of which are full time. In Labor’s last year they created less than 100,000. The economy’s recovering, which is the most important thing that governments can achieve. The Budget is heading back to surplus.
HOST: I get all that but I thought one of the most on-the-money remarks I have heard from someone of late was actually Bob Katter where he said, and I don’t agree with his views certainly on same-sex marriage, but he said a couple of weeks ago it has felt like the Parliament has spent the entire year flying back and forth to Canberra so that we can argue about each other’s citizenship and whether gay people should get married or not. That is what is has felt like. That is what a lot of our listeners think. I reckon they are going to want to see more nuts-and-bolts stuff that affects them in 2018.
PYNE: Well we had the energy guarantee, the National Energy Guarantee, formulated this year to try and take pressure off electricity prices. Malcolm announced of course the Snowy Hydro 2.0, the largest renewable energy project in Australia’s history. And of course in defence industry we’ve been getting on with the job of creating thousands of new jobs. Just this week down at Osborne I announced 200 new positions to keep the ASC workforce intact, ready for the offshore patrol vessels and the future frigates to start on schedule and the submarines. So we’ve been getting on with the job. Sure, the social media creates this constant sense of crisis and I think the mainstream media sometimes feels the need to compete with that but the Government itself has been getting on with the job and I think the public see that.
HOST: Yet given all that Chris, you are handing out how to vote cards this Saturday in a seat you hold by 10 percent.
PYNE: Well I like John Alexander and I want to see him get elected.
HOST: What about you Albo?
PYNE: (inaudible) wanted me to go over there and hand out how-to-vote cards from him.
ALBANESE: Well they have had a shocker. That is the truth. And the fact that John Alexander is struggling in a seat that he got 60 per cent of the vote – two-party preferred vote on just a bit over a year ago. I mean, a bit over a year ago our primary vote in Bennelong had a two in front of it and Cabinet Ministers are flying in from all over the country to hand out how-to-votes on Saturday says it all.
HOST: Well if he can bring his magic touch from the seat of Sturt, who knows Albo?
HOST: Maybe you guys are getting ahead of yourselves.
PYNE: The old Midas touch!
ALBANESE: I accept that Christopher has some qualities of which people in Sturt, some of them, actually see. But in Bennelong, I think they will just say what is this guy doing here?
PYNE: They will say nice to see you and they will vote for John Alexander with my winning smile and my how-to-vote card.
HOST: Guys it’s been a lot of fun this year. It’s been impossible to control at times this segment, but you guys have broken a lot of stories.
PYNE: It can get a bit rowdy.
HOST: Yes, it does get a bit rowdy.
ALBANESE: We are a bit out of out of control. But that is your fault. You are supposed to control us.
HOST: Yeah I know, impossible task. I feel like razor Ray or indeed Bill Harrigan to put an NRL spin on it. Albo, Chris Pyne, have a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and we’ll start it all again in late January, good on you guys.
PYNE: Thank you very much.
ALBANESE: Same to you and all your family.
PYNE: It’s been terrific, thanks a lot.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.