Subjects: Donald Trump; immigration, 457 visas.
HOST: It’s the most powerful segment in South Australian radio. It’s Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese. They are both on the line, ready to go, albeit Albo is a couple of hours behind. Anthony Albanese, you are in Perth this morning. Good morning to you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I am indeed. It’s a little bit earlier here.
HOST: It certainly is. That gives Chris Pyne the tactical edge, I think. How are you going there, Minister?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Oh, you’ve got to get up very early in the morning to beat Anthony Albanese.
HOST: OK. Look guys obviously enough the big story internationally this week was Donald Trump’s suspension of visas for people from seven Middle Eastern and African, predominantly Muslim nations. Now we saw Britain, Canada Germany, the leaders of other Liberal democracies come out and very strongly distance themselves from Donald Trump’s actions. To you Christopher Pyne, why was Malcolm Turnbull relatively silent on that point?
PYNE: Well firstly he wasn’t. He basically repeated what Justin Trudeau said, which was to reaffirm our absolute commitment to a non-discriminatory immigration policy. But we also have two very important priorities at the same time. We want to make sure that we get everybody off Nauru and Manus and therefore we have a delicate arrangement with the United States which now fortunately has been confirmed. We also wanted to make sure that Australian dual citizens were exempt from this executive order, which we’ve also managed to achieve. So sensible governments deal diplomatically with other governments, they don’t hector or lecture them and Malcolm Turnbull has managed to pull off both the Nauru and Manus Island deal as well as Australian dual citizens being exempt from the executive order, which is actually a tremendous achievement.
HOST: When you say delicate arrangement, are you sort of conceding there that if Mr Turnbull had been as forthright as some of the leaders the tactical risk was that Washington might have turned around and said well you can stick your Nauru deal?
PYNE: Well the reality is the deal that we did with the Obama administration needed to be confirmed by the Trump administration. We have been in the midst of negotiations and discussions with them about that and lecturing other countries about their domestic policy is not something that we should do. Now I know that the Left and the ABC are outraged because, you know, we won’t attack Donald Trump, which they are determined to be opposed to. But the reality is he was elected President, he said he was going to put a ban on certain immigration into the United States. We don’t agree with that of course but that is a matter for him and his electors. They elected Donald Trump, he’s doing what he said he would do and for all the Left’s outrage they can’t deny that fact.
HOST: To you Albo, Labor has been quite strong in its criticism of Donald Trump this week and criticism that has been levelled also at Malcolm Turnbull for in your view being somewhat supine on this issue. But isn’t it the reality that Labor, when Kevin Rudd was PM did do things like what Donald Trump has just done when it was in power. You did it with the Sri Lankans, you did it with the Afghanis, where for a while you were so worried about the situation in those countries that you put in these sort of short-term bans on visas from those nations?
ALBANESE: No. Labor and indeed to their credit the Coalition have not had a racially discriminatory immigration policy in this country in the recent past. People like Philip Ruddock crossed the floor of Parliament over just those sort of issues and for Christopher to characterise this as just the Left, last time I looked Chancellor Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister May of the United Kingdom certainly weren’t under any definition part of some Left-wing, ABC conspiracy. The fact is that world leaders have been standing up for their values and that’s what is disappointing here. I know Malcolm Turnbull pretty well and I have no doubt that he would find personally the declarations that have been made under these Presidential decrees quite abhorrent. He doesn’t need to attack Donald Trump personally, but what he did need to do was call out bad, discriminatory policy that doesn’t make the world a safer place and indeed divides people. And that’s precisely the opposite of what we need to do and I guess for Mr Turnbull, the problem here is he wouldn’t stand up to Mr Trump, he won’t stand up to Mr Abbott or Cory Bernardi, people in his own party. It’s just this incredibly shrinking Prime Minister that we are seeing and I think that’s quite sad.
HOST: Albo, you guys are having a bob each way on Trump though aren’t you, because on the one hand coming out and admonishing him, but on the other you close your eyes or just read the transcript without the name attached to Bill Shorten’s Press Club speech yesterday, in the parts he talks about 457 visas he’s tapping into precisely the sort of vein that made Donald Trump President, isn’t he?
ALBANESE: We’ll that’s not right. That’s sort of policy that we did, for example labour market testing is something that we introduced into the 457 visas when we were in government. I think common sense tells you that where Australians are available to do work, they should do it rather than importing labour, particularly when we have rising unemployment. In this state of Western Australia, for example, it’s risen considerably in the last couple of years so the sort of importation of labour that you needed during the mining boom on a temporary basis simply isn’t necessary any more across a range of skills.
PYNE: Let me introduce one particular fact into this, that Bill Shorten was the Minister for Employment when 457 visas reached their peak in this country and can I add that most of those were in Sydney in precisely the kinds of jobs that he mentioned yesterday and Sydney last time I looked wasn’t engaged in a mining boom. So Bill Shorten is being his usual dodgy political self. He’s just a dodgy political hack and trying to have a bob each way, being a populist, trying to tap into this so-called Trump effect at the same time as pretending that he had nothing to do with 457 visas when he was the Minister for Employment.
HOST: Chris Pyne, can I put it to you that we have a whole stack of listeners that would wish that your government would tap into the Trump play book a little bit more and they’ve contrasted the, we’ve just had the news that Toyota are going to be leaving Australia.
PYNE: That’s hardly news.
HOST: Well a day has been announced, that is news. We’ve had in recent history the situation with Holden and the criticism of how Joe Hockey dared Holden to leave the nation and then our listeners are saying hey you’ve got Donald Trump in the US threatening these companies, threatening them if they leave they are going to have to pay a massive tax. And they have seen in recent days a couple reverse those decisions. Is it time to change tactics when it comes to how the Government deals with corporate entities leaving?
PYNE: Well Holden was General Motors Holden, an American company, and the CEO said that no amount of money from the Australian taxpayer will cause us to stay in Australia. Toyota is a Japanese company, not an Australian company, and even the AMWU said today that it was a relief that they finally had a date and it was the AMWU that took Toyota to court and had the arrangement that Toyota had made with their workers, who had voted overwhelmingly in favour of it, ruled out by the Fair Work Commission, so effectively killed Toyota and I as the Minister for Defence Industry are bringing 5000 jobs to South Australia in the shipbuilding and submarine building industry. So nobody could accuse me of not being Australia-first, Australian manufacturing first, especially in high tech, advanced manufacturing, high value jobs, decisions that we have made to build 12 submarines, nine frigates, 12 offshore patrol vessels, decisions that Labor didn’t make in their six years in Government.
HOST: Just before we let you both go, I just want to get your views if I could Christopher Pyne, because this is a specific South Australian issue that relates to the success or otherwise of the Federal Coalition in this state at the last election, about the revelations here this week that the Weatherill Government paid almost $1 million, or three quarters of a million dollars to a very pro-Labor group to put out seemingly innocent information on election day about your education policies.
PYNE: Look Labor has been caught with their hand in the cookie jar – $800,000 to one community which turned out to be run by Labor apparatchiks effectively, to campaign against the Federal Coalition. This is the same kind of thing they did when they handed out dodgy Family First how-to-vote cards in Mawson, or Leon Bignell’s electorate at the last couple of state elections ago. Labor will stop at nothing to win elections. That’s what we have to understand and they will even use taxpayers’ money to prop up so-called community organisations to campaign on their behalf. There should be an investigation into this. I don’t know how the South Australian ICAC works because it’s a very secretive organisation, but I would have thought this was the classic case of borderline corruption and I assume there will be a thorough investigation into it.
HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, thanks very much for joining us on Two Tribes.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.