Subjects: Trump-Putin summit, MH17, Craig Kelly, Newspoll.
HOST: It’s a very special Two Tribes – Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese joining us. Good morning to you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
HOST: Good to have you back guys. We missed you both over the last couple of weeks. Now we are going to kick off with a question for both of you. Can we get your thoughts on the Trump-Putin Summit and also the comments made by the Liberal MP Craig Kelly that Australia should somehow forget about or move on from the MH17 atrocity in which 38 of our people were killed? Chris Pyne first.
PYNE: Well thank you. Well the Australian Government has a very clear view about the shooting down of the MH17. The evidence is overwhelming that it was shot down by a Russian missile fired by a Russian battery that had been given to Russian separatists in The Ukraine by the Russian Government and those responsible for the heinous action, that criminal act, need to be brought to trial and the Australian Government and the Netherlands Government for that matter, who led the investigation, are quite prepared to open negotiations with Russians about bringing those people to trial. There’s no doubt about that. President Putin has never repudiated the actions of those people and dissociated himself from them. Instead he has tried to blame the Ukrainian Government, which is bizarre, and the Australian Government has a very clear view about that and we aren’t changing our view.
In terms of President Trump and President Putin’s summit in Helsinki, the American Government has to make its own decisions about how it handles Russia and I am not going to criticise the Americans for the choices that they make. But there is no doubt that Russia meddled in the United States elections – whether they had an influence over them is another thing altogether – and seek to meddle in other elections around the world, most recently in France, and are responsible for the agent that that hurt the Skripals in London. So as governments go, the Russian Government is not exactly a supporter of the international rules-based order, nor is it a perfect global citizen, unlike countries like Australia and other countries that we associate with and we intend to continue to make those remarks to the Russians at every opportunity as we do though our Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister.
HOST: What did you make of it all Albo?
ALBANESE: Well I think that there is no doubt that President Putin is an authoritarian who has no respect for the norms of international order and I agree totally with what Christopher said about the tragedy of the MH17 in which 38 Australians lost their lives as part of that devastating act done without doubt with a Russian missile fired, as Christopher said, from a Russian launcher that was given to Russian separatists. So there is no doubt that Russia is complicit in this incident and the fact that that has been ignored. When Donald Trump looks back and when historians look back at the Helsinki Summit, I don’t think it will be a high point in foreign relations for the United States.
The United States historically since the Second World War has played a critical role in international relations. They are our most important ally but it is important to remember our alliance is with them and not with Donald Trump. It’s a nation-to-nation relationship that is stronger than the relationships between any individuals and that will endure. Mr Trump should have raised this issue with Mr Putin.
When it comes to Craig Kelly, I mean I just think this bloke is a bonehead. He is a bonehead who has caused enormous damage. The fact is that he was responding to a message from Anthony Maslin who is a father from Western Australia whose three children were killed as well as his partner on the MH17 and it is frankly beyond belief that in response to that he basically says: Oh well, it won’t make any difference if we condemn the MH17, we’ve got to overlook it. Well, for goodness sake. His apology today was pathetic. He is being challenged within the Liberal Party and I wish the people in the Liberal Party who are challenging his pre-selection well, because it would be a good thing for the Parliament if he was removed.
HOST: Chris Pyne, did you think that Craig Kelly’s apology was good enough his morning?
PYNE: Well he has apologised and he was right to do so. His views expressed on Sky Television yesterday are not the views of the Australian Government. I don’t know why he said the things that he said on Sky TV and I am glad that he has apologised. It was exactly what he should have done. Obviously, all of us, especially those of us who have children of our own, are completely shattered by what happened to the Maslin family. It is something that they will never get over and the Australian Government’s view is very clear about this. We have got to hold the people to account who were responsible for supplying the missiles and battery and then removing it from The Ukraine to try and cover their crime and the Putin Administration bears responsibility for bringing those people to trial or not as the case may be and so far they have shown no intention of doing so.
HOST: Albo, Let’s talk Newspoll for a moment. Can you win the election with a leader who is 19 points less popular than the Prime Minister?
ALBANESE: Well Newspoll shows that we would win the election if it had of been held last weekend as we would have on any of the previous I think it is up to 37 Newspolls in a row. What happens is that governments are formed on the basis of votes for the party and the fact is that we were ahead yet again in this Newspoll.
HOST: So you have no concerns about this being the widest gap for two years?
ALBANESE: Well what is important is the two-party-preferred vote and not other issues that come up that Newspoll has a look at.
HOST: It’s part of the Newspoll that you never bother looking at? You’re not interested in it?
ALBANESE: Of course people look at Newspoll. Any politician who says that they don’t isn’t telling the truth. But the fact is that it shows that we would have won the election if it was held last weekend, as we would have on any of the previous 37 fortnights.
HOST: That‘s even despite having the lead in your saddlebags that is Bill Shorten as Leader?
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that from time to time opposition leaders have to be out there raising issues against the Government and putting the case rather strongly. And of course Bill Shorten has also had a whole section of the media being critical of him. But the fact is that he leads a team that is ahead in Newspoll yet again.
PYNE: Well Bill Shorten is about as popular as Voldemort at the Hogwarts Christmas Party and the reason is of course is that nobody trusts him and nobody can afford him and whether Bill Shorten is the leader or not, people still can’t afford Labor. They want to go to the next election with $270 billion worth of new taxes. The Australian public aren’t stupid. They are looking around, they work out that those taxes have got to come from somewhere. They are going to come from them. They are going to come from the Australian people and Australian businesses and retirees. Bill Shorten and his Labor team are hitting everyone and Anthony is part of that team.
HOST: The interpretation of Newspoll that so excites you though Christopher – if you reverse it, it says that everyone likes Malcolm Turnbull, they just don’t like the rest of you.
PYNE: Well 51-49 in the Newspoll is neither here nor there quite frankly. I have been to elections when John Howard was Prime Minister – who everyone now lauds as one of our greater prime ministers – when he was behind in the Newspoll when the elections were called. I remember when Mark Latham was the Leader of the Labor Party we were 58-42 behind in the Newspoll – 58-42 six months out from the election and went on to win it handsomely. The polls aren’t that important in terms of what happens before the election, but the thing about the leadership poll is that Bill is really hideously far behind Malcolm Turnbull whereas for the party polling it’s basically 50-50.
ALBANESE: I will tell you what he is ahead of – and that is not giving $17 billion to the big banks. That is something that the Government stubbornly continues to pursue, these tax cuts for the big corporations that we simply can’t afford if we are going to deliver on education and health and infrastructure.
HOST: All right guys, we are going to have to cut you off there. Chris Pyne, Anthony Albanese – always a good, rollicking stink. Thanks for joining us and we will do it all again next week.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.