Subjects: Anzac Day, Cory Bernadi and Family First merger
HOST: Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us. Good morning to you both.
PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ALBANESE: Good morning.
HOST: Now guys, we’ve spent a bit of time this morning talking about two instances yesterday where we saw Anzac Day being politicised in a fairly unwelcome fashion. The first involved a woman here in Adelaide, Katrina Power, who is an Indigenous activist who used the Welcome to Country to talk about slavery, to talk about Invasion Day, and she also rewrote one of the psalms from the Bible, the 23rd psalm. The second instance involved the ABC broadcaster, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, who wrote that tweet: ‘Lest we forget, Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine’, which she subsequently deleted.
Firstly to you Christopher, some of your colleagues have been quite critical of the ABC’s continuing decision to employ this woman. Is that a concern that you share?
PYNE: Well the ABC makes its own decisions about who it employs and also it has to bear the responsibility and the opprobrium if they make mistakes. Often in the past the ABC has been involved in controversy. I think what’s sad about the tweet from the ABC person in question is that of course it’s very sad on Anzac Day to reflect on the campaigns that actually freed Palestine and Syria in the first World War from the Ottoman Empire in that conflagration. I understand the point that she was trying to make, but she’s actually got things entirely around the wrong way because in fact she should have praising the role of Australians in Palestine and Syria if she had known her history of this country and the fact that of course it was Australians who liberated Jerusalem and then Damascus.
HOST: Your thoughts, Albo, on this? Because you’re obviously a lifelong leftie, a progressive person. We had that instance earlier this year where a group of refugees who were trying to celebrate their citizenship had their little march shut down by some militant Indigenous activists. We saw those comments from Ms Power yesterday where the Welcome to Country became a pretty, very heavy handed political lecture for everybody who was there.
At a time when we’re trying to achieve a ‘yes’ vote for the Recognise campaign, to recognise Indigenous people in our constitution, when it does actually get to the point of being a referendum question. Do you reckon there’s a bit of a pattern where sometimes people who fancy themselves as progressive are actually so far to the other extreme that they alienate mainstream opinion?
ALBANESE: Look David, I think there is a time for debate about a range of issues but Anzac Day isn’t one of them. Anzac Day is a day for us to commemorate and recognise and show respect for those brave Australians who’ve sacrificed in all of our interests. We’ve won the lottery of life living in this great country and it’s not by accident, it’s been fought for. And Anzac Day, I’d rather focus, quite frankly, on the fact that overwhelmingly whatever people’s other views on a range of issues; what I saw yesterday at Balmain in my electorate at the Dawn Service, but at Dawn Services right around the country, is people young and old coming out commemorating our Diggers, showing respect for our service men and women including those who are in active service today. So I’d rather concentrate on the positive, frankly.
There will always be one or two people at the fringes on any issue who take an issue and concentrate it on them but, overwhelmingly, certainly the Indigenous person who gave the Welcome to Country at the Dawn Service I was at did a fantastic job. And it was great that yesterday, in terms of Indigenous issues, in Canberra there was, and I think the Federal Government and all those associated, whether it deserves commendation for this, showing respect for the fact that the first Australians who were here a lot longer than those who’ve arrived as migrants, or their descendants, weren’t even recognised as citizens but they were still out there fighting for Australia in World War One and every war since.
PYNE: You’re doing a bit of a Michael Keenan there Anthony.
HOST: He didn’t compare it to the Port Adelaide premiership.
PYNE: Not that I disagree with anything you say, I must say, but that’s quite a long little speech you gave there but it’s absolutely right.
ALBANESE: Just say you agree and move on Christopher.
PYNE: I agree.
HOST: You were hanging on every word Chris.
PYNE: I was.
ALBANESE: I was in the moment.
HOST: You had a head of steam Albo, we thought we’d let you go. It would have been inappropriate to interrupt any of that, it was all rather wordy. Now, speaking of stories that came out yesterday; late yesterday we learned there would be something of a political amalgamation. Family First will cease to exist from today as they join up with the Australian Conservatives; Cory Bernadi’s party. Chris Pyne it looks like the first election that this new political merger will be tested at will be the South Australian election, March 2018. We’re just eleven months away. What advice do you have for State Liberal Leader Steven Marshall going into that contest with this new party now forming?
PYNE: I don’t think this so-called new party is going to trouble the scoreboard very dramatically. What it indicates is that neither party have had the support that they need to be able to continue on their own and the first thing that’s happened is the Senator who was elected from Family First, Senator Gichuhi has said she is not going to join it. That’s as I understand it. Now that might change, but from my understanding she has said she is not going to be part of it. So the one person they managed to elect to the Australian Senate from Family First in South Australia has in fact jumped ship already. So I think it’s a pretty inauspicious start. What it shows is that the Family First brand has been badly damaged because of the last few months with the Senator Day vacancy and Senator Bernadi’s party has never got off the ground; that’s merged before it even started basically.
HOST: How do you see the merger Albo? Is it still a giant free kick with regard to the fracturing of the conservative base in the Liberal side of politics?
ALBANESE: It’s a pretty remarkable effort when you have Family First with one Senator, Cory Bernadi pretending he has a party, but with one Senator, and they amalgamate for one plus one equals one.
HOST: Some rats in the ranks. You blokes are pretty happy with that.
ALBANESE: It’s not a bad effort and it shows, I think, Cory Bernadi’s remarkable political skills. I mean this is a bloke who was elected of course as a Liberal and who ran as the Liberal knowing, he must have known at the time, that he was going to change allegiance and people will judge his integrity and honesty on that basis.
HOST: You’re not going to interrupt Albo there either, hey Chris?
PYNE: He’s having a good morning.
HOST: What about that for a unity ticket. We’re going to have to leave it there. That was a good line; one plus one equals one.
ALBANESE: Next week maybe Christopher no need to show up, mate. I’ll just speak on behalf of both of us.
HOST: What about that? It’s come full circle they’ve merged into one. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, always great to catch up for Two Tribes. Thanks guys.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.