Subjects: Parliament, election timing, Trade Union Royal Commission, shipping policy, education, GST, Christopher Pyne’s ute.
HOST: Right now it’s time to turn our attention to the federal political scene with our guests Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne. Good morning, Anthony.
HOST: And Christopher Pyne. Good morning Mr Pyne.
PYNE: Good morning Will, David and Albo. It’s nice to be back.
HOST: Guys, it’s great to have you back. Yesterday was the first Question Time for 2016 and also the first party room meeting and caucus meetings for both the Liberals and the ALP.
At that meeting, Christopher Pyne, Malcolm Turnbull raised the prospect of a double dissolution election – a full Senate election – later this year. Do you think that he is trying to call the bluff of the independents or is the Prime Minister genuinely prepared to go to the polls in a double dissolution?
PYNE: Well, a double dissolution is live option for a couple of reasons. One, because the crossbenchers – Labor and the Greens, but particular Labor and the crossbenchers – are combining routinely to stop government legislation, even legislation for which we had a mandate at the last election.
Now, the latest example of this is the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the Registered Organisations Commission, both of which we took as policies to the 2013 election and it really surprises me that Labor doesn’t want to clean up the union movement given the findings of the Royal Commission of Dyson Heydon and it surprises me that the crossbenchers also are prepared to continue to allow thuggery and standover tactics to be continued unabated in the union movement.
So yes, if the Senate won’t pass legislation that is vital for which we have a mandate there very few options available for a government. One of them is a double dissolution election and if that happens well, the cards will fall where they fall.
HOST: Would a double dissolution election fought on industrial relations, Albo, be a dangerous one for the ALP given that I think quite rightly Chris Pyne has identified some of the pretty tawdry and, in some cases, criminal conduct of some unions in the Royal Commission and would be the basis of a very effective campaign for the conservatives?
ALBANESE Well, there’s your point, David. Criminal conduct should be dealt with by the criminal law and proper prosecution taken. And anyone who breaks the law should face the full force of it.
There’s agreement across the board there.
What this government is about of course is avoiding scrutiny for its Budget. If there is a double dissolution election, it will only be because they do not want to bring down a Budget in May. They are all over the shop when it comes to economic policy.
They changed the prime ministership at the end of last year, and nothing has changed. We’ve got the same climate change policy, we’ve got the same policy on marriage equality, we’ve got a GST that they don’t know if they are introducing an increase or not.
They are sort of having a faux debate but every time someone takes a position, they say ‘oh, we are not doing that’. And they are running from the Australian people.
They should bring down a Budget. We have three-year terms and they should be judged on the basis of that.
When it comes to industrial relations, I’ll be meeting today with the five people who were marched off their ship the MV Portland that took freight from Western Australia to Victoria in a regular way for more than – one of the blokes I spoke to yesterday worked on that ship for 25 years.
What’s going on there is them being replaced by foreign Labor being paid $2 an hour.
PYNE: Anthony, this isn’t a Shakespearean soliloquy.
ALBANESE: $2 an hour.
PYNE: This isn’t the opening of [inaudible]
ALBANESE: That’s their policy.
PYNE: You’ve got to give someone else a go.
ALBANESE: They want to get rid of unions and they want to get rid of working conditions. That’s what they are about.
PYNE: You’ve got to tighten up you answers, fella, or we’ll be here all day.
ALBANESE: At least I turned up. You didn’t turn up last week mate. And I’ll give you the big hint, it was a better program last week.
PYNE: What about the week before?
ALBANESE: It was a better program.
PYNE This is commercial radio. You’ve got to keep it moving, Anthony.
HOST: Free drama classes from the member for Sturt, Albo.
ALBANESE Well, I’m not as big a show pony. I will say that.
PYNE Let me just talk about this economic policy for a moment. Last week Labor confirmed what everybody knew, which is that they are still the tax, spend and borrow party that they were under Gillard and Rudd. But apparently they have $37 billion to spend on education which no-one else has, but they’ve got it.
So Labor’s going to this election with a policy to increase taxes on cigarettes on superannuation, on multinational corporations. They’ve got a policy to increase tax, not reduce any taxes and increase spending. Now, I don’t know about Anthony’s electorate, but when I go around my electorate they don’t want heavier taxes and more spending, they want …
ALBANESE: They want schools funding and they don’t want a GST of 15 per cent. That’s what’s they want in my electorate and in yours.
PYNE: They know there is a lot of money being spent on education and they want outcomes.
ALBANESE: Do you support a GST of 15 per cent Christopher?
PYNE: They want teacher quality, they want school autonomy, they want a better curriculum, they want more parental engagement. They know there’s a lot of money being spent in schools. But whether it is being spent on the right things is the question.
PRESENTER: Chris Pyne, when are you going to make a definitive statement, the Federal Government that is, with regard to your position on if they’re increasing the GST or keeping it the same? Because at the moment it appears that you’ve outsourced the entire debate to state and federal Labor parties.
PYNE: Well, the GST is a state tax, that’s the first thing, so therefore, they’re having their own ding-dong argument between Jay Weatherill and Bill Shorten. It’s collected by the federal government and given to the states.
ALBANESE: Under federal legislation.
PYNE: It goes straight to the states.
PRESENTER: Semantics aside, you’re the people who have to decide what the rate is, don’t you Chris Pyne?
PYNE: No, because the law requires the states and the territories and the Senate and the House of Representatives to all agree. So we can’t just change the rate, no.
We can’t do that. So Jay Weatherill is having a ding-dong argument with Bill Shorten about it, because Bill Shorten wants to play politics, and Jay Weatherill wants to find a way of increasing revenue.
PRESENTER: We do know all that, though. We know that they’re having a fight. We’ve been covering it every day for the last two weeks. What do you reckon, what are you going to do?
ALBANESE: You’re the government!
PYNE: Well, you’ve worked that out. How long’s it taken you to work that out?
ALBANESE: Well, act like it.
PYNE: You were over in the ministerial wing today, you lost your way!
ALBANESE: What’s your position?
PYNE: What were you doing on our carpet?
ALBANESE: What’s your position?
PYNE: Trying to relive old glories.
ALBANESE: Lots of the Tories want to talk to us.
PYNE: We’ll have a tax White Paper this year, in the first part of the year and that will make it very clear where the government is heading in terms of tax policy.
But at the moment we’re very happy to have a debate. We should be mature enough as a country to have a national conversation, and we’re having one.
ALBANESE: You’ve got to say what your position is, before you have a debate. You’ve got to have a frame for the debate.
PYNE: We’re not going to fall for the rule-in, rule out politics of [inaudible]. I mean, you want to –
ALBANESE: A government that doesn’t want rule in or rule out things in terms of tax policy.
PYNE: We don’t want to rule anything in or rule anything out at this point. We want to have a national debate about it, and that’s what’s going on, which is –
ALBANESE: What’s the frame of the debate?
PYNE: About tax and whether we need to increase taxes, reduce taxes, reduce spending. You want to increase spending, you want to increase taxes, you want to increase borrowing. We want people to work, save and invest.
ALBANESE: We do want to increase taxes on multinationals, I’ll give you the big tip. We want them to pay something. We want people at the high end in terms of superannuation
PYNE: What about the tradies? Why do you want to tax the tradies even more?
ALBANESE: Now you’re just talking nonsense. You’ve never met one.
PYNE: I’ve got a truck!
ALBANESE: Oh, you’re a tradie now?
PYNE: I drive a ute! That’s what I drive! You’ll have to come to my electorate and have a look.
PRESENTER: Chris Pyne, Laurie Oakes reported last week that there’s a likelihood that the White Paper could effectively be the next federal budget, where it spells out this is how Australia could operate under a GST of ‘x’.
Judging from your comments just then, this White Paper will be explicit, won’t it? It will have, whether it’s along the lines foreshadowed by Laurie Oakes or not, it will have a number in it which is a GST of 10, or 12.5, or 15 per cent, or whatever. It will settle somewhere, won’t it?
PYNE: Well, the white paper will outline the options for tax reform in the same way as there will be a federation white paper which will outline what can be done to make the Federation work better.
There will be a defence industry policy statement over coming weeks which will also indicate how we’re going to grow the defence industry in Australia and use our procurement dollar to create jobs and growth, which I’m very much looking forward to as a South Australia.
But we’ve got a lot on our plate, we’ve had the National Innovation and Science Agenda which I’m responsible for in December, which I’m now implementing. I mean, the government is getting on with the job and first and foremost, it’s about jobs and it’s about growth.
This is an election year so of course there will be static throughout the year, which we’re already seeing from Anthony this morning, but the bottom line is this government knows we have to grow the economy.
We know that people are most concerned about jobs. They’re still concerned about cost of living, and that’s why we have to keep working to keep prices down, we have to keep government spending restrained and obviously work within the parameters that we’re given by the Parliament in terms of the collection of revenue.
ALBANESE: It’s interesting that a 50% increase in the GST will not keep prices down.
PRESENTER: The shadow boxing will have to stop at some point and it sounds like that will be next week when the White Paper comes out.
PRESENTER: Yeah, you guys are going to have to tighten up next week.
PYNE: Yeah, he’s going to have to tighten up.
PRESENTER: We like a bit of circus but that was the full zoo this morning.
PYNE: Well, you’re absolutely right, I’ll have to take him aside this week.
PRESENTER: Have a conference. Alright, thank you Albo, thank you Christopher.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.