Subjects: Parliament, NDIS
KARL STEFANOVIC: He is Labor’s most experienced politician but the big question this morning, has Albo been gagged?
A new report reveals he has only been allowed to ask six of Labor’s 511 questions in parliament. That’s just 1.2%.
Christopher Pyne joins us now from Adelaide, the man himself Anthony Albanese is in the studio. Albo and Christopher, good morning to you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning, Karl.
STEFANOVIC: To you first of all Albo, have you been muzzled?
ALBANESE: I’m here on national TV and I had the matter of public importance this week on infrastructure and the budget. I think it’s pretty hard to argue that I don’t get to say much.
STEFANOVIC: You have been muzzled.
PYNE: He’s like the man in the iron mask, Karl.
ALBANESE: Not at all. I gave six speeches in the parliament this week. I sit on the tactics committee.
STEFANOVIC: But you are actually very good at asking questions in parliament, you’ve only asked what, five or six?
ALBANESE: I sit on the tactics committee that determines who gets to ask the questions, so I’m part that of that decision.
PYNE: They’re deciding that when you leave the room, brother.
ALBANESE: Not true.
PYNE: As soon as you are out of the room they are taking the questions off you and giving them to Jim Chalmers. Who is Jim Chalmers?
STEFANOVIC: Who is Jim Chalmers?
PYNE: He has had 16 questions.
ALBANESE: He is a good fellow in spite of the fact that he supports Queensland.
STEFANOVIC: Now listen. Does Bill Shorten have a drama with you?
ALBANESE: Not at all.
STEFANOVIC: You sure?
STEFANOVIC: You are not after his job?
ALBANESE: Not at all.
STEFANOVIC: Why not?
ALBANESE: Because I’m happy with the job that I’ve got, and I’m a team player. I’ve always been a team player. I’m making a contribution holding the government to account on infrastructure.
STEFANOVIC: His popularity is woeful, why wouldn’t you just muscle up and go and grab his job?
ALBANESE: We are on 53% of the two party-preferred vote.
STEFANOVIC: He’s not.
ALBANESE: We’re in the countdown to the 30 Newspolls where Malcolm Turnbull rolled Tony Abbott. The only division in the national parliament is on Christopher’s side, where we have an ongoing war between Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott.
This week we saw a breakout over climate change policy where the head of their climate caucus committee, Craig Kelly, tweeted out saying pop the champagne corks if Donald Trump and the US pull out of the Paris accord, and of course they have.
PYNE: How can Anthony be holding us to account when he never gets a question? Six questions out of 511.
ALBANESE: You never answer them.
PYNE: You said you’re holding us to account on infrastructure, but you never get to ask anybody a question. You are like the man in the iron mask, Anthony.
ALBANESE: I’m out there giving speeches in parliament and right around the country.
PYNE: You’re hidden away.
STEFANOVIC: We do support more questions though for Anthony Albanese in parliament. You’re very good at it. Let’s move on.
PYNE: We should do a poll. Ask the viewers whether they would support more questions for Anthony Albanese. I’d answer yes, straightaway.
ALBANESE: Only if they weren’t coming to you, mate.
PYNE: You don’t worry me.
STEFANOVIC: Let’s move on. Horse whispering, yoga and energy healing just some of the activities being funded by taxpayers as part of the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme. Christopher, some dramas here, aren’t there?
PYNE: No, not at all, Karl. The National Disability Insurance Scheme, which we want to fund fully by the way and Bill Shorten doesn’t, Anthony does, he is one of the shadow cabinet ministers who says Labor should support the increase of the Medicare levy to fund the NDIS while Bill Shorten plays cheapjack populism again.
ALBANESE: [inaudible] … funded through a different way.
STEFANOVIC: But horse whispering, energy healing, yoga, spiritual counselling, are they all acceptable?
PYNE: Some of those things might well be Karl, I’m not going to start casting judgment about whether yoga is good or bad for people with disabilities, it might well be good for particular people with disabilities, so I’m not going to jump on that band wagon.
STEFANOVIC: There might be some teething problems though, do you concede that?
PYNE: It’s a very big project, there is no doubt about that, and we want to fund it properly, unlike the Labor Party, and of course there’s always things along the way that you’ve got to smooth out, whether it’s a new program or an older program.
But I’m not going to make value judgments about whether yoga is good or bad for people with disabilities. I’m not qualified to do that. In some cases it might well be.
ALBANESE: The National Disability Insurance Scheme is a proud Labor creation.
PYNE: But you won’t fund it.
ALBANESE: We support it; we have dragged the Coalition towards supporting our position on the NDIS. It’s a good thing. In a massive program such as this, I’m sure that there will be the odd issue or two.
But fundamentally this is making a huge difference to people’s lives who, due to accidents of history, have created circumstances for them and their carers and their families. It’s a great program.
STEFANOVIC: You muscle up yourself in parliament, because we would like to hear questions from now, though. Our viewers do too.
ALBANESE: I think have it’s very hard to say, Karl, that I don’t have a say in politics. Here I am on the most popular breakfast television program.
PYNE: You’re in the bunker!
ALBANESE: Just got that in for the ad, mate.
PYNE: You’re in the bunker.
STEFANOVIC: You’ll be back next week, you can talk as much as you like.
ALBANESE: Christopher mightn’t be.
PYNE: We’ll see about that. If you go down brother, I’m going too. We go down together. We rise or fall together.
STEFANOVIC: That’s funny.
ALBANESE: I’m worried now.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.