Subjects: Gun control, ABCC, CFMEU
HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us. Good morning to you Albo.
HOST: And Christopher, good morning to you.
PYNE: Good morning Will.
HOST: Now, Chris we’ll start with you, if we can. Did Malcolm Turnbull stuff things up yesterday by failing to get in there and head this whole so-called ‘guns for votes’ furore off at the post by emphatically ruling out any changes to the Port Arthur gun laws?
PYNE: Well it’s a desperate distraction by the Labor Party designed to take everyone’s mind off the fact that they are still shackled to the CFMEU and refusing to support bringing back the Australian Building and Construction Commission. And what Malcolm did initially is not want to conduct discussions with the Senators about the ABCC bill through the national media, which is a perfectly sensible position.
But there’s absolutely no proposal whatsoever to change the gun laws that John Howard initiated. They are one of the Coalition’s great prides and achievements and no one is proposing that. Neither is Senator Leyonhjelm proposing that.
HOST: But didn’t Malcolm Turnbull do exactly what you just said he set out not to do? Because he did seem to give a sort of characteristically long winded answer where he was canvassing the nature of the discussions that he had been having with Senator Leyonhjelm, then was talking about what State Police Ministers were doing and how this was a complicated matter that the Federal Government and the State Governments needed to work on.
He almost sort of got bogged, where he should have just said the John Howard led gun prohibitions that were brought in after the Port Arthur massacre are sacred, they are off limits, they will never ever be touched by my Government.
PYNE: Well he did say that but importantly Malcolm Turnbull respects the intelligence of the Australian voter and he fully expects that explaining things to people is a better way of dealing with things rather than just responding with just slogans and jibes and Mediscare campaigns, which is Bill Shorten’s stock in trade. Malcolm prefers to explain things to people and I think that’s well respected by the Australian public.
But what we’ve seen here from the Labor Party David is a desperate attempt to distract from two problems: civil war in the Victorian Labor Party where Anthony Albanese’s left faction is at war with itself and at war with Kim Carr and the fact that they’re still supporting the CFMEU in spite of all the overwhelming evidence about union thuggery in the CFMEU. They’ve given them $11.2 million in donations over the last few years and they cannot make a decision in the best interests of the Australian public.
HOST: Well then do you Anthony Albanese, on this issue, are we going to at some point get to the core of the debate about the Australian Building and Construction Commission or are you happy for it to be debated through this discussion about horse trading and what may or may not be required to get it through the Upper House?
ALBANESE: The fact is that we now have exposed emails between Michael Keenan’s office and Senator Leyonhjelm’s office, a trading off of votes in order to secure support for amendments to the migration act last year. So we know that the horse trading happened last year and we know that the horse trading was happening this year as well because Malcolm Turnbull made it clear that he had been in negotiations with Senator Leyonhjelm. And today we have National Party members, including Bridget Mackenzie and Mark Coulton out there calling for a weakening of the gun laws and the allowing of these automatic type weapons into Australia.
Now Malcolm Turnbull needs to make it clear whether he will allow these guns into Australia or not and if there is an allowance of that to happen, then I think Australians are entitled, given what’s on the record to think that there’s some fix in here. And Malcolm Turnbull had lots of opportunities. He was asked on multiple occasions on radio, then he was asked on multiple occasions in a doorstop. Then we actually had a debate in parliament and at no stage until Question Time did he speak English – did he actually say what was required.
HOST: That might all be valid Albo, but to Will’s question specifically about the CFMEU and the Labor Party has received some $11 million in donations from that union…
ALBANESE: Over what period of time?
HOST: (inaudible) You have accepted the money. Can you just answer this question, do you accept that there is any evidence of serious criminality against the CFMEU?
ALBANESE: I accept that wherever there’s criminality there should be action taken against those individuals who are responsible for it. Whether they be trade unionists, or employers. And the other thing is you can’t actually have one without the other of course You can’t have a corrupt union official without a corrupt boss and both should be prosecuted.
HOST: It just seems funny, you guys will quite happily paint the banks as the forces of Satan but when it comes to…
ALBANESE: We haven’t said that at all.
HOST: You’ve gone close.
ALBANESE: We haven’t said that at all. What we’ve said is that there should be a Royal Commission, there should be scrutiny of the banks.
HOST: But no scrutiny of the CFMEU?
ALBANESE: We had a Royal Commission, David…
HOST: But no scrutiny of the CFMEU?
ALBANESE: We had a Royal Commission, David, into the trade union movement and any actions …
PYNE: And the Royal Commission recommended an independent regulator.
ALBANESE: Well, what we say is let’s beef up ASIC’s powers. Let’s have the body that looks at companies and practices extend its powers to look at unions. What we have here is legislation whereby if you are a trade unionist who is accused of something, you won’t have the same rights that a mass murderer or a drug runner has.
PYNE: That is the CFMEU’s line. That is the CFMEU’s propaganda and it isn’t true.
ALBANESE: No, that is what is in the legislation. I let you go Christopher.
PYNE: You’ve had a good run.
ALBANESE: I let you go uninterrupted. And the problem here, is that when you had the Law Council of Australia saying that this legislation is contrary to the rule of law, that’s the objection that we have here, is that workers should be treated the same as everyone else. They do have rights, including the rights to proper legal representation. What we have here is, if we have a government with just a little bit, a little bit more oomph at going after corporate tax evaders or anyone else in society who is doing the wrong thing the same that they do in in terms of unionists then Australia would be better off. They didn’t mention this during the election campaign. Didn’t mention it.
PYNE: Well, you’ve had a pretty fair run Anthony. I mean the truth is most of what you have said is complete nonsense and I’ve got to admire your chutzpah for trying to get away with it.
ALBANESE: What? The Law Council of Australia haven’t said that?
PYNE: You cannot say that the CFMEU is a rogue union in spite of the Royal Commission stating that and recommending there should be an independent regulator, like the ABCC (inaudible).
ALBANESE: Did they recommend the CFMEU be disbanded did they? As a rogue union? No they didn’t. No they didn’t. When you have had a rogue union like the BLF, it was a Federal Labor Government that disbanded that organisation. Wherever there is corruption, wherever there’s corruption emerged …
PYNE: I’ll tell you what they said about it. They said that the (inaudible) discloses systemic corruption, unlawful conduct, including corrupt payments, physical and verbal violence, threats, intimidation, abuse …
ALBANESE: Who made the corrupt payment?
HOST: Guys, I want to direct the last question to you if I can Chris. Now this whole fiasco as it unfolded yesterday – I know that in politics you’ve got to play the hand that they’ve dealt you, but how is it that a bloke like David Leyonhjelm, who can end up holding the whip hand in the Senate, you go to see him about a matter involving industrial relations; the guy’s first instinct is to start talking about certain types of guns that he thinks should be brought into Australia. In hindsight, wouldn’t it be better to say: Listen mate, we are here to talk to you about a union, we are here to talk to you about the building industry. We’re not going to go down the path of aberrant horse trading involving other issues that he’s got a bee in his bonnet about?
ALBANESE: Absolutely, it would be.
PYNE: The Australian public voted for the Senate that we have to deal with. It has 11 crossbenchers and we are working with them. We’ve been very successful passing the Omnibus Savings Bill, passing all sorts of important legislation through the Senate.
ALBANESE: That was with us, by the way. That was with us. That was with Labor.
PYNE: Now you keep interrupting. We’ll continue to work with the cross bench that the Australian public voted for. That is democracy, that’s how democracy in Australia works.
ALBANESE: I’ll tell you what it’s not – sitting down and having a guns-for-legislation debate.
PYNE: Which is a lie.
ALBANESE: Having guns-for-legislation debate.
PYNE: Stop your propaganda, Anthony.
ALBANESE: No, no. Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed it that it has come up. There are emails.
PYNE: You can’t bring yourself to criticise the CFMEU, $11 million in (inaudible) money.
HOST: Christopher, it’s not just Anthony Albanese that’s questioning this horse trading. Tony Abbott was moved to tweet about it as well.
PYNE: We will work with the Senate. We will get things done because that’s what we’ve been elected to do.
ALBANESE: Well how about you have some integrity and say we won’t discuss guns for other legislation?
PYNE: We haven’t.
ALBANESE: You have. There’s emails.
PYNE: Sitting in the corner holding your breath until you turn blue and saying I’m not going to talk to the crossbenchers about X because I want to talk to them about Y doesn’t get things done. The public is expecting us to get on with the job and that’s exactly what we are doing.
HOST: So guns aren’t on the table?
ALBANESE: Have some integrity.
PYNE: We are confounding our critics.
HOST: I will tell you, if this morning’s exchange has been any indication, it should be another wild and woolly Question Time this afternoon. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, thanks very much for joining us for Two Tribes this morning.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.