Subject; Bennelong by-election
CHRIS UHLMANN: I can’t tell you how weird this feels. A crucial Bennelong by-election race will be run tomorrow and it will be a bleak Christmas for Malcolm Turnbull if the Government loses because he’ll also lose his one seat majority. I’m joined by Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne. Welcome, gentlemen.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Mr Uhlmann. It’s nice to have you interviewing us.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you, sir.
UHLMANN: I got interviewed once by the two of you I think, at one stage, but Christopher, if you lose the Bennelong by-election that would be a huge blow for the Government and it looks like it’s a toss of a coin.
PYNE: Well it is very tight and it’s a very much a contest between a good local member who’s creating local jobs and a candidate who is basically just making her next career move. And of course you can can have Kristina Keneally because she can go into the Senate. So if you like Kristina Keneally you don’t have to vote for her tomorrow. She’s going into Sam Dastyari’s vacant seat.
ALBANESE: Well, there’s confidence for you from a Government –
PYNE: She won’t even rule it out!
ALBANESE: – from a Government that has run out of ideas. Put it out of its misery. It’s an opposition-in-exile sitting on the Government benches. Make them comfortable and put them over there.
PYNE: We’re creating 371,000 jobs in the last 12 months –
ALBANESE: He brings along his talking points here sometimes.
PYNE: – and John Alexander is part of that. John Alexander is creating local jobs in Bennelong, all Kristina Keneally wants to do is make her next career move.
ALBANESE: If John Alexander was any further on the backbench he’d be out of the building.
UHLMANN: The unkind might say that Bill Shorten is not helping Kristina Keneally in this race. Liberal Party polling certainly saying that and there are some other indications of that. Should he pull out of the race and give him more of a chance?
ALBANESE: Well, every single frontbencher – Bill Shorten, myself, Chris Bowen was there yesterday I noticed.
PYNE: Andrew Leigh.
ALBANESE: We’ve all been there and I’ll be handing out tomorrow morning in Bennelong.
PYNE: I’ll be handing out tomorrow afternoon.
UHLMANN: The entire Cabinet there is it, Christopher Pyne? How much money is the Government spending trying to keep this seat?
PYNE: Well, I’m flying myself to Sydney. I’m paying for myself to come. So it’s really not really relevant about the taxpayers money for that.
ALBANESE: Save your money, Christopher. Donate the money to John’s campaign. He’d prefer that, I think.
PYNE: If Kristina Keneally wins in Bennelong, Bill Shorten is one seat closer to being Prime Minister of Australia and Bill Shorten is not the right person to be the Prime Minister of this country. He has six new taxes that he wants to impose on business.
ALBANESE: The talking points just keep rolling out. And that’s the problem.
PYNE: John Alexander just wants to create jobs. And Kristina Keneally is only interested in one job. Her own.
UHLMANN: Just one thing for you, Anthony Albanese. Kristina Keneally has has introduced a sort of race card into this election by talking about China phobia. Now the government would like to bring in some legislation which is about the Chinese Communist Party interference in Australia or foreign government interference in Australia. Is playing a race card a pretty low tactic?
ALBANESE: No. The fact is that this is a Government that has been prepared to go out there and raise all sorts of scare campaigns about influence. What we should be concerned about –
UHLMANN: Kristina Keneally said all Asians were under fire.
ALBANESE: What we should be concerned about is of course foreign influence from any government in Australian politics. Kristina Keneally is someone who will make a contribution as the Member for Bennelong. I mean, John Alexander ran a campaign in 2010 about the Parramatta to Epping rail line. Kristina Keneally and myself as the Infrastructure Minister delivered the funding for that and it was cancelled by the Abbott and Turnbull Governments along with Barry O’Farrell.
UHLMANN: Alright, gentleman, you’ve you’ve had the gloves out all year for each other but actually behind the scenes you get on quite well.
ALBANESE: Don’t tell anyone, Chris.
UHLMANN: I’ll try not to tell anyone. Christopher Pyne, it is the season to be jolly and kind-hearted. Do have something nice that you could say about Anthony Albanese?
PYNE: Well I shouldn’t really say anything nice about him, because, you know, that’s not what I’ve been instructed to do of course on the show. But I will say I like Anthony Albanese because he’s got a great sense of humor. He knows how to laugh at himself and knows how to laugh at politics in general and that’s what’s kept him going for 20 years.
UHLMANN: Return the favour?
ALBANESE: Oh, look – Christopher does have a good sense of enjoyment about life and you can have an argument and then have a chat, a cup of coffee or maybe even the odd glass of wine late at night.
PYNE: Only one though.
ALBANESE: Only ever one.
PYNE: Only one. If he has two drinks he gets quite silly.
UHLMANN: I’ve been to dinner with you, Christopher Pyne. It’s not measured in glasses, it’s measured in bottles.
ALBANESE: The difference is, I need a glass.
UHLMANN: Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese, thank you both for all you’ve done this year.
ALBANESE: Merry Christmas.
PYNE: Have a great Christmas. Thanks for having us this year. We’ve had a great year.
ALBANESE: And thank you for the better time. We’re in primetime in 2018! We’ve been promoted.
PYNE: Much better. And our wives like us a lot more too. And check Bill’s horoscope for Saturday. It’s not good.
UHLMANN: I hope you both get to spend some time with your families this Christmas.
ALBANESE: We will.
UHLMANN: The Bennelong by-election will be an extraordinary test of not just of John Alexander, but the government.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.