Subjects; Barnaby Joyce; Coalition history; PMO staffer; DJ Albo
KARL STEFANOVIC: Welcome back to the show. Well, Barnaby’s week off has done nothing to stop the headlines and this morning the astonishing new development the Nationals Party Leader is facing an allegation of sexual harassment, an allegation he denies. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us now. Good morning guys.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Karl.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning from Marrickville.
STEFANOVIC: Nice to see you, my friend. Well Christopher, Barnaby is calling this allegation spurious and defamatory, but it is another nightmare, isn’t it?
PYNE: Well, this allegation is something of course that the Government is not aware of, we’re not engaged with or involved in. It’s a matter for the National Party and for Barnaby Joyce and the leadership of our Coalition partner is a matter for our Coalition partner. They’re not part of the Liberal Party, so I’m sure they’ll go through the necessary processes to ensure that all the right things are done.
STEFANOVIC: Of course, it is still damaging to the Coalition and your relationship with the public.
PYNE: Well obviously, it’s a significant distraction. There’s no doubt about that but how it’s resolved is not a matter for the Liberal Party. We are two separate parties and we don’t always agree and we don’t always go exactly the same direction. So that’s why we’re not in the same party. We’ve been separate for 95 years but in Coalition for 95 years.
STEFANOVIC: Does he have your support?
PYNE: Barnaby is a good friend. He’s obviously going through a very difficult time, as are his entire family, and I’m sure that all of these stories being played out in public must be incredibly upsetting for everyone associated with the Joyce family as well as their friends and I’m sure when it’s over everyone will be absolutely delighted to move on.
STEFANOVIC: Does he have your support?
PYNE: Well, I haven’t got a vote in the National Party party room .
ALBANESE: I think that’s a no.
PYNE: I support him as a Cabinet minister.
STEFANOVIC: But you know what, Christopher? You’re not one to mince your words. You either support Barnaby being leader or not. Just say it.
PYNE: Well I don’t tell the National Party…
STEFANOVIC: No, but you can have an opinion about it. You have every right to have an opinion. You have an opinion about everything else, why not that?
PYNE: Well, I support him as a Cabinet colleague, of course I do, and as a friend…
STEFANOVIC: …and as Leader?
PYNE: … but it’s not my job to tell the National Party who their leaders should be.
STEFANOVIC: But do you support him as Leader or not?
PYNE: They wouldn’t welcome me telling them…
STEFANOVIC: You’re not telling them. You’re just saying whether or not you support him. It’s very simple.
PYNE: Well if you asked a National Party person whether they supported Malcolm Turnbull being Leader of the Liberal Party, they would say exactly the same thing, ‘that’s a matter for the Liberal Party’.
STEFANOVIC: Albo, you said in the initial days of this crisis it was a private matter. You are now very, very public. Do you support Barnaby Joyce?
ALBANESE: I certainly don’t support Barnaby Joyce. What’s more, Christopher is exposing the weakness of the current leadership of his Party, the Liberal Party. It was Earle Page who helped get rid of Robert Menzies as Prime Minister the first time. It was Black Jack McEwen, when Leader of the National Party who vetoed, effectively, Billy McMahon and instead supported John Gorton becoming Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Party. And of course the National Party, not the least of which was Barnaby Joyce, skewered Malcolm Turnbull on his disastrous first time as Liberal Party Leader.
The fact is that Barnaby Joyce allegedly is on leave; I said last week he should just leave; and while he’s been on leave he’s been giving media interviews and someone else has been Acting as the Prime Minister. The Deputy Prime Minister’s first job is to deputise for the Prime Minister. He himself has admitted this week he can’t do that job. He just should go.
STEFANOVIC: Well it’s free-hit city for you Anthony so I am going to cut you off there on just that one but there is another story emerging this morning and it is grubby. But nonetheless for the Coalition, it’s difficult. A staffer in the Prime Minister’s Office is at the center of an alleged love triangle this morning after posting private text messages online. Christopher, you’d be aware of the story but does the Prime Minister’s Office really need to be dragged into this?
PYNE: Well look, I know the people involved. They’re both friends of mine and it’s obviously very upsetting for them all to be involved in this story and it’s on the front page of The Daily Telegraph today. I hope that both parties can move on from it. I’ve known both of them for a very long time and so for me personally it’s a very sad story.
STEFANOVIC: But to have it played out on the front page of The Daily Telegraph?
PYNE: Not much fun for anybody involved.
STEFANOVIC: And especially for the Prime Minister’s Office at the moment, right?
PYNE: Well it’s got nothing to do with the Prime Minister’s Office but it’s obviously a personal matter and it’s very sad that it’s being played.
STEFANOVIC: Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s one of his staffers?
PYNE: It is, but that doesn’t mean it’s the Prime Minister’s Office’s responsibility to take care of the personal matters of either their staff or their staff’s former boyfriends – or former girlfriends for that matter.
STEFANOVIC: Doesn’t the responsibility of someone’s office fall upon that person who is running that office?
PYNE: I think that’s rather a stretch. The Prime Minister has about 70 staff or 60 staff. I don’t think he’s responsible for the social lives or the private lives of all of his staff.
STEFANOVIC: What will happen to that staffer then?
PYNE: I don’t know. It’s not a matter for me.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, Albo, we’ll finish on a lighter note today if we can, and again Christopher, thank you for your candour. DJ Albo was mixing it up last week at the Labor Party function. I’m not saying anything about his abilities, but you did spin the decks, got it out there again Albo. It’s good. Really letting go there.
ALBANESE: It was good. I was visiting Christopher’s hometown of Adelaide.
PYNE: They couldn’t wait for him to go.
STEFANOVIC: Are you building momentum?
ALBANESE: That’s right, because I do the Liberal Party so much damage when I’m there.
PYNE: Rubbish. People were taking him down to the Greyhound bus and trying to put him off, from the Labor Party. You should see the pictures on Instagram. He’s at the bus station. They’re trying to push him under the bus!
ALBANESE: They love me in South Australia.
PYNE: Get back to Marrickville.
ALBANESE: I was in your seat, Christopher.
PYNE: I love being lectured by the Labor Party on leadership. The Rudd- Gillard-Rudd Labor Party.
STEFANOVIC: That’s fair enough too.
PYNE: Bill Shorten stabbed two leaders in the back.
ALBANESE: We look pretty good stable compared with you lot.
STEFANOVIC: You guys. We love you guys. Have a great weekend.
PYNE: That was the worst experience we’ve ever been through.
STEFANOVIC: Have a great weekend.
PYNE: Get on the bus! Back on your bus!
RICHARD WILKINS: They should go on tour, those two.
ALBANESE: I’m heading to Perth!
STEFANOVIC: Get a room, you two.
FRIDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2018