Subjects: Trans-Pacific Partnership, Remuneration Tribunal into MP Work Expenses, Submarines
HOST: Minister Pyne, good morning.
PYNE: Good morning, Will.
HOST: And Anthony Albanese, good morning.
HOST: Happy New Year too guys.
ALBANESE: And to both of you, although it’s a bit past New Year.
HOST: Sluggish start, sluggish start, but we’re going to make up for lost time.
PYNE: I say Happy New Year right through into February.
HOST: Yeah (inaudible) statute of limitations.
ALBANESE: You’ve always been a bit strange Christopher.
PYNE: I’ve always been a bit slow, yes.
ALBANESE: A bit strange is the term that I’d use.
PYNE: Happy New Year to you Anthony.
HOST: Start the year with a sledge.
ALBANESE: Got to keep in form.
PYNE: You were a bit out of form by the end of last year.
HOST: The world is a very different place from last time we did chat. Donald Trump is now the President of the United States. One of the first bits of business he got down to was withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Interested to hear from you both and you first Christopher Pyne, whether it was the right or wrong move?
PYNE: Well I think it’s the wrong move for the United States because open markets are exactly what the world needs in terms of growing jobs and investment and growth in our economy. There are twelve countries in the TPP, without the United States there is still 11. Those 11 want to go ahead with the TPP; it will mean more open markets for Australia. We are a trading nation because we’re only 23 million people we need to get our goods and services out of Australia and around the world. Significant economies are still in it, like Japan of course, and Korea, and we intend to press ahead. And other countries like Indonesia, even China, are talking about joining in. It still remains a very live option for Australia.
HOST: What do you think, Albo?
ALBANESE: This is a bit like the Monty Python parrot sketch, with the parrot nailed to the perch and the Government’s saying, no it’s not dead, it’s just resting. You can’t have the TPP without the world’s largest and most powerful economy, the United States. That was the whole point of the TPP was the US was at its centre. The US has withdrawn. That is a decision for them. I don’t think it’s a good decision, and a lot of Donald Trump’s rhetoric will perhaps, be seen how that plays out. The US has grown to be the world’s largest economy by being engaged with the world.
PYNE: What we’re seeing here, of course, is the Labor Party completely retreating from any kind of credible economic policy and joining One Nation and the Greens as economic populists.
ALBANESE: It’s dead Christopher, and Donald Trump…
HOST: Why are you celebrating? You almost sound like you’re celebrating its death.
ALBANESE: No, it’s just a fact. It’s just a fact.
HOST: But why not take a more creative approach, and a more sort of positive approach, as advocated by your former Leader and Prime Minister, Paul Keating, who has said, prior to Trump’s election victory, that the prospect of a Trump presidency means that Australia should go, well actually we’re going to put more effort and energy into our region, which was the key condition.
ALBANESE: And we should certainly do that, and Labor, we won’t take lectures from anyone about engagement with the region. It’s Labor that going all the way back to the recognition of China by the Whitlam Government has been engaged with our region, we’ll continue to do so.
HOST: So why can’t the TPP survive without America?
ALBANESE: Because the US is at its centre. The US is the focal point of the TPP and you can’t have…
HOST: So does trade liberalisation only make sense if the US is involved then?
ALBANESE: No, not at all. But the TPP itself is dead, because the TPP is an agreement with the US as the key negotiator.
HOST: Is it dead, Chris?
PYNE: Absolutely not and Prime Minister Abe was here a couple of weekends ago with Malcolm Turnbull and they were talking about how to expand the TPP to make sure it continues. There are 11 countries besides the United States in the Trans-Pacific Partnership right across to South America. I mean, the idea that without the United States there is no TPP is false. And what we’re really seeing though is Labor wanting to wreck everything. Rather than saying as you did David, being creative, and working to save what’s still left, Labor is joyfully rejoicing in trying to wreck jobs and growth in our economy.
What Bill Shorten wants to do is drive our economy into the ground so he can win the next election. He’s not interested in jobs. Labor has no jobs policy, it has no growth policy, and when the Government puts one up like the Trans-Pacific Partnership they try and knock it down. They voted for the China Free Trade Agreement one minute to midnight and anyone in South Australia who is involved with the wine industry knows the China Free Trade Agreement has made the wine industry blossom. Again in South Australia, what we need is more open markets, more trade, more growth, more jobs and Labor is trying to knock that down while we build it up. They’re joining One Nation in their economic populism and the Greens in their economic vandalism.
ALBANESE: Well of course it’s Labor that established APEC. It is under Paul Keating…
PYNE: You’re talking about things that happened in the 80s and the 90s.
ALBANESE: And laid the foundation for 25 years of economic growth. It’s Labor that began the negotiations over the China Free Trade Agreement. It was Labor that did that, under Craig Emerson as the Trade Minister.
HOST: Hey guys just on the rise of Donald Trump, one of the things that galvanised his victory was this sense that he was a political outsider, that he was outside the political establishment. Now over the summer here in Australia we saw a Turnbull Government Minister, Sussan Ley, fall on her own sword on account of an entitlements scandal. Do you think, I’ll start with you Chris, but I’ll get Albo’s thought on this as well, do you think that the major parties have, in a way, contributed to this anti-politician sentiment through episodes such as the Sussan Ley business?
PYNE: Look, I am glad that Malcolm Turnbull acted very quickly in January to cauterise this issue by announcing that we would continue to implement the 31 recommendations of the Conde Review, which was the Remuneration Tribunal Review into MPs’ work expenses and also to announce a new arbiter group, a committee, to look over the questions that MPs might ask about whether such and such a travel or work expense was within the rules.
I think that was a good outcome from Malcolm Turnbull and the Government’s point of view. These issues, they happen every now and then. It is very unfortunate when they do. Some of the debate about these issues is rational. Some of the debate about it is not rational, for example, George Brandis who was doing his job travelling around western Queensland as a Queensland senator. I thought that was quite absurd that he was attacked for doing that and just recently in the debate about Malcolm Turnbull’s diary, some journalists were trying to say this was because he didn’t want to release his official diary because of entitlements issues, which is completely absurd, so there are times when I think these debates are fair and times when they are unfair, but we have moved to deal with it.
HOST: What do you think Albo? Have you all ended up with a collective black eye from instances like on this one?
ALBANESE: Oh look, there’s no doubt that there are some people in the community who think that every time we make a phone call that that is, you know, that that is too much; that we shouldn’t be paid; that we shouldn’t travel anywhere. But then again, if it was the case for example, that I didn’t go to Adelaide throughout 2017, I am sure that at the end of the year you would be saying to me: why haven’t you been to Adelaide, don’t you care about South Australians as a national representative?
HOST: We’d be stuck just with Sam Dastyari making his visit too. Look, just before we let you both go I just want to get a quick comment from you Chris Pyne because there is a big announcement involving DCNS and the subs today. Christopher Pyne, are you there?
PYNE: Ah, if there’s a big announcement about DCNS and the subs that you are referring to the collaboration between the universities and the State Government – $150,000 for defence science and technology groups’ involvement with that – I wouldn’t say that was a big announcement. If there is a big announcement I’m not aware of it.
HOST: Well, I was under the impression that you had a big announcement to make. Maybe you are saving it up for next time.
ALBANESE: That’s an exclusive to a rival channel.
HOST: Hang on, what’s going on here?
ALBANESE: You’ve done a drop.
HOST: It sounds a bit like that. I think we’ve smoked him out, anyway, thanks for being with us this morning. Welcome back for 2017 and we’ll do it all again next week.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.