Subjects: Sturt campaign; Coalition election prospects; pre-poll figures; toxic campaigning.
HOST: Twenty-three minutes to nine. Ten days out from Polling Day – it’s time for Two Tribes with Christopher Pyne. Albo, we’re still waiting on you. Chris, good morning.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning. Nice to be here. What’s happened to our Anthony?
HOST: Well we’re not sure. We’re not sure Chris.
HOST: He’s been making jokes at your expense, given that you’re not running at this election …
PYNE: He has.
HOST: Now he’s vanished.
PYNE: Exactly. Well, he often makes jokes at my expense, but I forgive him.
HOST: Hey Chris, can I ask you a question? Do you feel that this election, like you haven’t got a dog in the fight a bit, given that you’re not running? Or do you still feel as passionate about it, albeit in a more detached kind of a way?
PYNE: It’s a good question. No, I’m very passionate about James Stevens winning in Sturt. It’s very important to me that Sturt stays in Liberal hands, and that helps form a Liberal Government. And I think James Stevens will be a sensational Member of Parliament. I think he’ll take up where I leave off, and look after the electorate and their constituents. But I also think he has a real capacity to be a Cabinet Minister in a future Liberal Government. Obviously he needs to go through the process that we’ve all been through of learning the ropes in Canberra. But I think he’ll stand up for SA, and be good for our state. So I’m very passionate about him winning, and obviously I think that Bill Shorten’s agenda is the wrong agenda for Australia. I don’t want to see this big heavy taxing regime that Labor wants to introduce. I’m worried about what will happen to the submarines.
HOST: Can I get a hand on heart tip from you Chris? Because all the polls for six months leading up to the election said that you guys had a snowball’s chance in hell. Who do you think is going to win?
PYNE: Well I hope that the Coalition’s going to win. I think the polls are tightening. I feel the election is tightening, and I’ve been around the country a bit, but not as much as I used to, of course. And I feel that there is a very big hesitation about Bill Shorten being the Prime Minister of our country, and that could well be the major tipping issue for the next 10 days. I think the election will be decided the next week, or probably from the weekend to Saturday actually – probably decided in the next three days. And I think Scott Morrison has done something that a lot of people didn’t think was possible, which was to campaign the Coalition back into a position where it could win the election. And I think that’s an amazing achievement. I also think Australians love an underdog. They don’t like being told that they’re going to vote a certain way. They don’t like being told: ‘the election’s already been decided’. We are an interesting bunch, and we don’t like being corralled by anyone into a position. So I think there’s a lot of people still making up their mind, and anyone who’s already put their cue in the rack and decided the game is over is wrong.
HOST: Anthony Albanese is on the line now. Let me know …
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’ve been listening. There’s one thing, which is that if Mr Stevens wins Sturt, he’ll be the best Member they’ve had for a long time.
PYNE: You are in no position to criticise me. Where have you been?
ALBANESE: I have just …
PYNE: You slept in. You slept in …
ALBANESE: I have just landed in Melbourne. There’s a fair bit of congestion getting out of Sydney …
PYNE: Oh yeah.
ALBANESE: We were on the tarmac for a long time. And I say this, there is a bipartisan position of giving Sydney a second airport, and that’s a good thing.
PYNE: That is a good thing.
HOST: Think you’d be up late, somehow managing to continue to combine campaigning and deejaying, which seems to be a feature of your work at the moment Albo.
ALBANESE: I’m multi-skilled mate.
HOST: Starting to encroach on your early morning radio interviews though.
ALBANESE: No, I was on a seven o’clock flight …
PYNE: You can dock his pay.
ALBANESE: For an 11am event, deliberately so that I would land in good old Melbourne half an hour before this interview. But unfortunately, we sat on the tarmac for a very long time. I’m a stickler to the rules, and as the Shadow Aviation Minister, I couldn’t turn my phone on when I wasn’t allowed to of course, so …
PYNE: Of course you can’t.
HOST: Fair enough.
ALBANESE: Here I am …
HOST: Okay you’re here now …
ALBANESE: I’m at the footy ground in a couple of hours.
HOST: You’re here. Better late than never. It’s the opposite state of play though when it comes to the election. More than a million people have pre-polled now. What’s your read on that? Is it just sort of the Netflixisation of society, where everyone does what they want, when they want? Or does it mean something in the context of this campaign?
ALBANESE: I wouldn’t overread it. I certainly don’t think there’s a negative side for Labor, given that we’re the Opposition, and we’re the change agents. So if you want more of the same chaos, vote for the current mob. But if you want to actually change things for the better, vote for us. And people who vote early – it’s usually a sign of a change of Government, when on polling day, people are queuing up to have their say. But I do think that society’s changed. People do think that they have – they can get things instantly, and also just information. In the past, people just wouldn’t have even known about pre-polling. Now there’s info. The fact that we’re talking about it now. I reckon that there are 20 people listening to this interview who will say: ‘oh, I can vote today. I’ll go do it’.
HOST: Yeah, a lot of people just choose to get it out of the way, rather than fighting the queues. Hey guys, can I just quickly get both your thoughts on this egg nonsense that we saw yesterday? I was saying just after seven o’clock – it worries me that people are going to be – everyone complains about the quality of our politicians. But I fear that it could get to the point where – and we’ve seen, you know, people have – someone’s pet dog got killed in Corangamite, on account of them having a Liberal poster in their front yard. The toxic nature of politics now – do you worry that it’s going to put good people off entering public life?
ALBANESE: It’s happening now. I just ran into – Mike Baird was on my flight down to Melbourne. Mike Baird, even though I would have some obvious differences with him, is a quality human being. And he, you know, offered himself up for public life. He is much happier-looking at the moment having got out. He got out as Premier undefeated. He wasn’t in public life for that long. He brought in a whole lot of business experience into the NSW Government, and I think he’s a very decent human being who went into politics for all the right reasons. And a whole lot of people who I know have thought about going into politics, are now not doing so. The sort of vilification that we get from anonymous trolls on social media. In an email exchange at the moment with one of my constituents over – because I didn’t attend a forum last week that I didn’t even know about – it means I don’t care about homelessness and poverty? That’s just put all over Facebook. People feel like they can do what they want. And I think this egging incident is a disgrace, and we should all speak out against a violent act. And if an egg’s okay, why not something else? You know, it can escalate really easily.
HOST: Your thoughts Chris?
PYNE: Well I do think that the social media, and the ability to be anonymous on a megaphone like Twitter for the last 15 years, has started to break down the norms that we regard as important in our society. The fact that you can say such vicious and nasty things, defamatory things on the social media, without any consequence at all because you’re an anonymous person, has meant that people have started to break down what is acceptable. And attacking the Prime Minister yesterday was obviously completely out of line. I have to say, I think hitting Fraser Anning on the head with an egg was the wrong thing as well. Whether you like Fraser Anning’s views or not, and I don’t, I still think that was an assault. But I do think this election – there’s a certain viciousness about it, and I’m not exactly sure – I can’t tell you what I think the solution is going to be, because people are becoming more and more unbridled in the way that they approach public life.
HOST: Good thoughtful stuff. Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne, we will chat to you again in what will be the final week of the campaign for Two Tribes. Thanks guys.
PYNE: Looking forward to it.
ALBANESE: It’s not just the final week of the campaign, it’s the final Two Tribes, isn’t it?
PYNE: Well, we’ll see about that.
HOST: We’ll do a mopping up one after the result surely. We’ll do that.
PYNE: We don’t need you, but we might keep me going.
ALBANESE: With ‘C. Pyne’s Private Citizens’! Maybe you’ll say what you really think about some people in your party.
HOST: Chris Pyne – our man on the street in Campbelltown.
HOST: Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.