Dec 4, 2017

Transcript of Television Interview – The Today Show

Subjects: Banking Royal Commission, Sam Dastyari, national security

DEB KNIGHT: I tell you what, a week is a long time in politics. Just over a week ago the PM said categorically, on this show. there would be no Royal Commission into the banks, but here we are. The Government’s Christopher Pyne and Labor’s Anthony Albanese join me now. Good morning to you both.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Deb.

KNIGHT: Christopher, to you first. How humiliating – the least worst option is what the Treasurer is calling it. You have been forced into this inquiry which no-one it seems in the Government wants.

PYNE: Well Deb, as you say, a week is a long time in politics and the banks asked us yesterday I think, or the night before, to put an end to the banks and the insurance companies and the super funds being used as political footballs in the Senate.

KNIGHT: So you did the banks’ bidding?

PYNE: No. Well, the Labor Party were trying to undermine our financial system which means undermining our economy. The banks had become a political football in the Senate. Clearly we had reached a stage where the Government had to take charge of the situation. When the banks themselves said things had reached a situation which was beyond tolerable, the Government decided that we were going to act and deal with it. We will now have a Royal Commission into the entire financial services sector, including industry super funds and general insurance and banks and that will hopefully produce recommendations that the Government can adopt.

KNIGHT: Which the super industry is not happy about also. But I mean, be upfront with the voters here Christopher – this is not about fixing the economy is it? It’s about politics. You’ve lost your numbers. You had no option but to act because the Nationals were going to force an inquiry.

PYNE: Well Deb, the Government has made it perfectly clear that we think we have been getting on with the job of dealing with issues surrounding the banking sector. We have the four, four in fact five, of the largest banks in the world. We have a very robust banking system. But there has obviously been a lot of political pressure. Labor wanted to make this a political football. They did nothing about it of course for six years in government. Now suddenly they have discovered grievances over the banks. We’ve acted. That’s what sensible governments do. We are getting on with the job. We move on to the next issue, which is marriage equality next week.

KNIGHT: Well big backflips, that’s for sure, Albo, put it to you, Labor, you’ve been calling for this. Are you going to still swipe from the sidelines or are you going to get on with this inquiry?

ALBANESE: The Government has been leading from behind. It has been arguing that there is no need for this and this week we have seen an utter humiliation of the Prime Minister, who has no authority within his own political party, let alone within the Parliament and this is an extraordinary humiliation for the Government.

KNIGHT: Will you back this inquiry though?

ALBANESE: Well, we will back the inquiry. We have been calling for it.

KNIGHT: With the current terms?

ALBANESE: We have been calling for it. The terms aren’t what we would like. But we will support the inquiry. We think that it should be much wider and we think it should be much more centralised on the victims. We are concerned that the victims’ groups weren’t consulted about the terms of reference. And that says it all. The Government’s saying “oh well we could do this now that the big four banks requested it”. It just shows who is in charge of the show. It certainly isn’t Malcolm Turnbull and it’s not the Government.

PYNE: How is Sam Dastyari going there Anthony? Who is in charge of him?

ALBANESE: Good distraction.

KNIGHT: It’s not a distraction though at all. Why is he still in the Parliament?

ALBANESE: Well, let’s talk about Sam Dastyari and the banks. What Sam Dastyari has been doing on the banks over a long period of time is talking to victims …

PYNE: No. We didn’t ask about Sam Dastyari and the banks. We are talking about Sam Dastyari and the Chinese.

ALBANESE: … is talking to victims and representing them …

PYNE: No. Not about the banks.

ALBANESE: And representing them because of the Government’s failure to so do.

PYNE: Stay on the issue Anthony.

KNIGHT: Why is Sam Dastyari still within the Labor Party and still within Parliament, because I don’t give my eight-year-old son as many chances as Bill Shorten has given Sam Dastyari?

ALBANESE: Well the fact is that the allegation against Sam Dastyari is that he told someone that they were a security issue. That’s the allegation.

KNIGHT: And that he also countered Labor policy, and he also took funding from the donor, the Chinese donor. It’s not just a single incident here.

ALBANESE: Hang on. The Government is still taking funding from this donor.

PYNE: Not for personal expenses.

ALBANESE: This person has donated to the Liberal Party as much as they have donated to the Labor Party.

PYNE: Hang on. That’s not the issue.

ALBANESE: … it is the Government has been out there exposing national security interests just like over the Michaelia Cash issue it was the Government staffers that alerted the media.

PYNE: You can’t just talk over everybody until the segment runs out of time.

ALBANESE: It is you who has lost control of the Government Christopher.

PYNE: The issue is about Sam Dastyari having his personal bills being paid.

ALBANESE: You are the Government Leader in the House of Representatives and you have completely lost control.

KNIGHT: It has been a fiery week for both sides.

ALBANESE: And that’s unacceptable that that happens.

PYNE: What is unacceptable is telling Chinese people potentially who could be people of interest …

ALBANESE: You have told them.

PYNE: … not to use their phones because they could be being listened to by the security agencies. That is the serious issue.

ALBANESE: The whole of the Government has gone out there and has been talking about national security interests and I think that is a serious issue …

PYNE: You are outrageous. He had his personal bills paid, …

ALBANESE: … the role in which the Government, including the Attorney General, has done that.

PYNE: … he contradicted party policy and Government policy and then he warned this person …

KNIGHT: All right all right, this is going to be fireworks in Parliament.

ALBANESE: You know, the more he shouts, the more the Government is in trouble.

PYNE: … not to use his phone because of the security agencies. He could have been interfering with national security.

KNIGHT: OK. Wait until Parliament comes back and we will discuss it further. Lots to discuss. Fireworks – we’ve got them. Good to see you.

PYNE: Thanks Deb. Nice to see you this morning.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.