Subjects: Barnaby Joyce, Labor Party.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Plenty to talk about this morning. There’s another twist this morning in the Barnaby Joyce saga. It’s claimed the Deputy Prime Minister’s girlfriend was moved into a high-paying government job shortly after their affair started. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join me now. Good morning guys.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Karl.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
STEFANOVIC: To you first of all, Christopher. Did Resource Minister Matt Canavan create a high salary job for Barnaby Joyce’s girlfriend?
PYNE: Well Karl, I highly doubt it. I don’t know about the staffing arrangements in other Cabinet ministers’ offices.
STEFANOVIC: You didn’t hear anything about it?
PYNE: No, I didn’t hear anything about it.
STEFANOVIC: Did you read it in the paper this morning?
PYNE: I read it in The Daily Telegraph this morning.
STEFANOVIC: Were you surprised?
PYNE: Well, I don’t know if it’s true or not.
STEFANOVIC: It is true.
PYNE: I don’t know if it’s true or not. I haven’t had time to ask.
STEFANOVIC: His office has confirmed to our Canberra reporter that the job was created, that she did get a job inside his office.
PYNE: Or maybe she was both perfectly qualified and meritorious for the job. And maybe that’s the job that Matt Canavan wanted in his office in that time.
STEFANOVIC: Sure, but the timing raises eyebrows.
PYNE: Karl, I’m not the spokesman for the staffing arrangements of Cabinet ministers and really that’s a matter that Matt Canavan should answer, not me. It’s not my call.
STEFANOVIC: At some point it’s going to reflect badly on the Coalition, don’t you think?
PYNE: Well Karl, I really don’t want to go down the track where I become the spokesman for the private lives of my Cabinet colleagues. I think that’s a bit unfair on me. I’m not in the gun on this story and I think it’s highly unlikely anything untoward occurred. I’m sure it was all entirely appropriate. But again that’s a matter that Matt Canavan needs to respond to, not me.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, what do you think Anthony?
ALBANESE: Well, it’s a matter for the Government. These are circumstances that I’m not aware of. I’ve barely met Matt Canavan, let alone his staff, so I’m not aware of all the details.
STEFANOVIC: This does exert enormous pressure on Barnaby Joyce now. He was already under pressure, but if this is true, and it looks like it is, that’s what the word from his office is, then he has huge amounts of pressure brought to bear on him now.
ALBANESE: There’s no doubt that he’s under enormous pressure. I intend to place him under enormous pressure not over his personal life, but over performance as Infrastructure Minister and the Government’s disastrous record in this portfolio.
STEFANOVIC: Okay. Sharri Markson in the Tele today says the male-dominated culture that prefers to protect those in power by shielding them with a shroud of secrecy must come to an end in Parliament. Do you agree with that?
ALBANESE: The issue here is whether the personal becomes out there for all to see.
STEFANOVIC: You’re a public figure.
ALBANESE: The problem with this is Karl, who knows what the details are of people’s relationships. I’m certainly not aware of Barnaby Joyce’s family circumstances.
STEFANOVIC: Were you aware of it at all in the last couple of months? Everyone in Canberra was talking about it, apparantley.
ALBANESE: There were rumours around, but there’s lots of rumours also that aren’t true. This one is true. If everything that you heard as a rumour you took as gospel and was printed, there’d be a great deal of damage done.
STEFANOVIC: Okay Christopher, what do you think about Sharri and what she said, ‘the male dominated culture that prefers to protect those in power by shielding them with a shroud of secrecy must come to an end’. What do you think about that?
PYNE: I don’t think that government should be legislating for the private lives of consenting adults. I think that’s the beginning of the process. Secondly, I think in Australia we’ve been fortunately clear of this kind of Fleet Street journalism that dominates the UK, sometimes Washington. In Australia we tend to get judged on our policy prescriptions, the policies we take to elections, how we perform competently or not as Ministers, or Shadow Ministers or Members of Parliament. That has always been our model. I don’t think that model should change, but when there has been of course, a crossing over as there is in this situation with the Deputy PM, that has become a story and people will judge it on its merits.
STEFANOVIC: With respect, it is a bigger story if she has been given a job inside of someone else’s portfolio, inside someone else’s office and had to be moved outside of his office. That’s a significant story.
PYNE: Well Karl, as I said before, I am happy to be on the show but I can’t speak for what Matt Canavan has done.
STEFANOVIC: I know you’re going to be able to talk about this. In The Australian today yours truly, The Today Show’s own Anthony Albanese, is circling Bill Shorten with intent. If Bill gets hit by a bus, and no one wants to see that – do they Anthony?
ALBANESE: Certainly not, Karl.
STEFANOVIC: Will you lead the Party?
ALBANESE: Bill Shorten is leading the Labor Party and he’s leading it from a position of success. This week’s Newspoll had Labor ahead once again 52 to 48. The only job I’m interested in is being a Minister in the next Shorten Labor Government.
STEFANOVIC: Surely at some point, given his personal poll ratings you have to man up and have a crack, don’t you.?
ALBANESE: The fact is that the ratings that matter are whether Labor is going to win an election. We’re a team.
STEFANOVIC: But they’re not under Bill Shorten.
ALBANESE: They are, in fact. And they’ve won the last 26 Newspolls in a row. The only issue with regard to leadership in this country is whether Malcolm Turnbull resigns if he fails the test that he set. That he said of losing 30 Newspolls in a row.
STEFANOVIC: You’re not after the top job?
ALBANESE: Your job? No, I’m happy to be on here once a week, mate.
STEFANOVIC: That’s nice. Thank you guys, have a great weekend.
ALBANESE: Good to be here.
FRIDAY, 9 FEBRUARY 2018