Subjects: Subs contract; car industry; South Australian politics; Nick Xenophon
PRESENTER: It is that wonderful time of the week when Two Tribes do go to war.
Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne join us the day after the biggest defence announcement in Australia’s history saw fit to award Adelaide and Osborne a contract that will enshrine the shipbuilding capacity of this state for a generation.
Good morning to you, Christopher Pyne.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will, how you going?
PRESENTER: Very well, and good morning to you Anthony Albanese.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
PRESENTER: We’ll kick it off with you if we can, Christopher.
We were just saying off-air, is David Johnston the unsung hero of yesterday’s announcement in a way?
Because clearly the politics of this had spun out of control for the Coalition and setting aside the fact that it makes sense on economic grounds, this was a much needed political fix for the Coalition, wasn’t it?
PYNE: Well, everyone’s trying to find a new angle, David, on the announcement yesterday and I guess that is a pretty unique one and I’m sure that David Johnston would be quite happy to take credit for the decision so if we want to give him the credit, that’s terrific but it’s just all good news for South Australia today.
Our state is a winner. This isn’t just the biggest defence contract in the history of Australia, it’s currently the biggest defence contract awarded in the world and it’s been awarded to our great city. So we should be very upbeat today.
PRESENTER: And we certainly are, and I think our listeners are as well.
I wonder Anthony Albanese, where you sit with regard to the announcement yesterday because certainly, some of your colleagues, certainly some of the media in New South Wales and other places in the country have been less than kind about such a large contract being awarded to South Australia. It’s been characterised as a form of charity.
Are we entirely deserving or not, do you think?
ALBANESE: Well, the Telegraph of course, has gone to rack and ruin since you left David. That’s very clear.
PRESENTER: You wouldn’t have caught me putting out a page like that.
ALBANESE: You certainly wouldn’t have. And, look, there’s a national interest here, and there’s a national interest in having a strong South Australian economy.
I don’t think that we can afford, frankly, as a nation to be state parochial about these things. We need to develop industries and jobs and expertise that are different around our nation.
I think it’s a good thing that South Australia is receiving this economic boost. I think it’s a good thing that advanced manufacturing will benefit.
It’s not of course, just the direct jobs, it’s the indirect jobs and of course there’s a context here as well which is South Australia has suffered because of the failure of the feds to defend the car industry and that’s had a big impact.
PYNE: Here we go.
ALBANESE: You’ve just got to acknowledge it, Christopher.
PYNE: Well, I didn’t say we’ve made more decisions in the last six weeks than you made in six years around shipbuilding. Made no decisions at all.
ALBANESE: Christopher, you are trying to destroy the Australian merchant fleet and if you don’t understand there’s a relationship between the merchant navy, if you like, our merchant fleet, our domestic shipping industry and our defence industries –
PYNE: You were going really well.
ALBANESE: You were the person who raised the ‘P’ question, Christopher, as usual. I think it’s a good thing in terms of the decision.
But I also think that you can’t have a jobs strategy based upon just one industry, you need to be consistent and I am concerned about the Australian shipping industry.
This isn’t something new. This is something that I have spoken about and am very passionate about as you would know.
PRESENTER: But Albo isn’t Labor’s line on the car industry undercut by the fact that the head of General Motors eventually came out and said ‘the high dollar, the fact that labour costs being what they are, in an advanced, developed country like Australia, we’re just never going to be able to compete’?
And if you’re advocating continuing bailouts of the car industry that would be a classic case of throwing good money after bad, unlike yesterday’s announcement about a new industry that’s in a league of its own rather than a very old fashioned one that just didn’t stack up on paper anymore.
ALBANESE: The truth is that the car industry were told by the then Treasurer to leave.
That is what occurred and you have in Australia you have very effective bus construction industry for example, and the largest manufacturer for Boeing in terms of aviation outside of North America.
There are success stories about getting it right. You can have a protectionist model.
PRESENTER: But there’s a difference between telling them to leave –
ALBANESE: Which we didn’t do.
PRESENTER: – and saying sorry, we’re not going to give you more bailouts. Because, you know, the walls of the Adelaide Advertiser are papered with photographs of Mike Rann, Julia Gillard, everybody standing outside Mitsubishi and Holden posing for the cameras saying ‘jobs saved’ on account of a bailout and we all know how that ended up.
ALBANESE: Well, you need of course to have an industry policy that isn’t just about handouts. It’s about developing Australia’s industry in a unique way that can make a particular difference and connect in with what is a global economy.
We have shown that we’re able to do that in a range of areas including buses, trucks, aviation, and now in terms of subs, it’s a good thing. But we need to have a comprehensive plan for job creation.
This is very good news for South Australia and I think one of the things that has happened in South Australia is that Jay Weatherill as the Premier, all of the federal MPs including Christopher have been very consistent in advocating their cause here and that’s as it should be. And they deserve collective thanks. I’m not sure David Johnston made a great contribution in spite of your suggestion.
PYNE: Well, the great news about yesterday’s decision is that we won it on our merits. It’s not a government hand out. We won it on our merits.
We were the best place in Australia to be the centre of this ship build and in terms of the rest of the country, this will have really significant downstream effects right around Australia, just like the Collins class submarines did, the Anzac frigate.
So will the future frigates, the offshore patrol vessels. We’ve established a continuous naval ship build for decades into the future, long after Anthony and I are well and truly out of politics, probably not even on the earth, they’ll still be building ships.
ALBANESE: Don’t write us off yet, Christopher! We’ll be still on this program!
PYNE: This is one of the most significant decisions that any government ever makes and it’s of benefit not just to Adelaide but for the whole country and that’s why as Defence Minister – I mean, sorry, Industry Minister – I’m so excited about it. And defence industry I cover as well.
PRESENTER: Thought I’d missed a reshuffle there.
PYNE: It’s all high tech, advanced manufacturing jobs. It just confirms Adelaide as a high tech, advanced manufacturing centre.
PRESENTER: Chris Pyne, we’ve spent the entire morning sort of picking apart the detail in terms of the benefits for South Australia.
If we can turn our attention just quickly to the political ramifications of yesterday’s announcements though, do you think this has pulled the rug from beneath Nick Xenophon’s feet?
It was probably the biggest single issue on which he was campaigning in South Australia.
PYNE: Well, yesterday’s decision was the culmination of the competitive evaluation process and the recommendation from Defence was very straight forward.
It was that the French had to be chosen and that they had the superior bid. It didn’t have anything to do with politics. It had everything to do with national security, defence capability.
PRESENTER: I’m not suggesting that as the motivation, but is that how you’d characterise the political fallout from this? Are you less concerned about the Xenophon force in South Australia as we head towards the election?
PYNE: Well, I try and always be positive and upbeat about my election chances. I obviously work very hard in my seat and never take it for granted.
What yesterday proves though is that Liberals and Labor Governments can deliver. Independents can knock, but they can’t actually build.
And I was the person sitting around the Cabinet at the NFC, the National Security Committee, having these discussions.
Not an independent member of parliament. And that’s the same of course if there had been a Labor Government.
Anthony would have been there making these decisions. And this is of course the difference between voting for people who can actually deliver, like I did yesterday in spades, and people who can only knock, rather than build.
PRESENTER: Do you think that both major parties of politics, do you think that both sides will be singing from the same song sheet when it comes to that message about independents particularly given the polling that we were talking about in Mayo and also in Sturt?
ALBANESE: There’s a reason for that of course – because it’s true.
PRESENTER: We’re going to leave it there. Albo and Christopher Pyne, always great to catch up. A bit of a rare outbreak of peace for most of it this morning.
ALBANESE: I did notice there was no mention of last Friday night.
PRESENTER: Oh yeah. Righto.
PRESENTER: Mate, I tell you.
PRESENTER: Unfortunately we’re out of time.
PRESENTER: Instead of a Royal Commission into banks, you should have a Royal Commission into the nefarious links between the Hawthorn Football Club and the AFL umpires.
ALBANESE: Poppy’s skills.
PRESENTER: Poppy’s skills. Exactly. Good on you. Good place to leave it.
PRESENTER: He just snuck it in. Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne, thank you very much.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.