Feb 3, 2017

Transcript of television interview – The Today Show

Subjects: Donald Trump, US refugee resettlement deal

KARL STEFANOVIC: Welcome back. Well the explosive phone call between President Trump and Malcolm Turnbull is this morning continuing to make headlines around the world. This is Mr Trump talking within the last hour about the deal to send refugees from Australia to America.

Check it out:

DONALD TRUMP: Countries that are allies, a lot of people taking advantage of us, a lot of countries taking advantage of us, really terribly taking advantage of us. We have one instance in Australia, I have a lot of respect for Australia, I love Australia as a country, but we had a problem where, for whatever reason, President Obama said that they were going to take, probably well over a thousand illegal immigrants who were in prisons.

STEFANOVIC: Doesn’t sound like he is changing his tune. Well the row has plunged the Australian/American alliance into its biggest crisis in decades. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us now this morning, good morning guys.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Karl.

STEFANOVIC: Christopher, embarrassing, humiliating, anything else?

PYNE: Well, Malcolm Turnbull is standing up for Australia’s interest and what, if anything, this proves is that Malcolm Turnbull is the kind of person who’s capable of being the Prime Minster of Australia because he puts Australia’s interests first. He will get those people off Manus Island and Nauru; that’s been confirmed by President Trump last Saturday, by his spokesman earlier this week, by the US Embassy and the State Department yesterday and by his spokesman again this morning.

Sure, Donald Trump doesn’t like the deal because it was made by the Obama Administration. He wouldn’t have made it if he’d been the President at the time, but what this week has proven is that Malcolm Turnbull knows how to stand up for Australia and get outcomes, whereas, what it has proved is that Bill Shorten one day says that Malcolm Turnbull should be tough, when Malcolm Turnbull has been proven to be tough, Bill Shorten wants to have his cake and eat it too. He could write a text book on hypocrisy, Bill Shorten. He should have been giving Malcolm Turnbull the credit for getting the deal done.

STEFANOVIC: Let’s keep it to the deal; when are they coming off the island?

PYNE: Well obviously they’ll be going through the vetting process that the United States and Australia have outlined. But I think Bill Shorten doesn’t actually…

STEFANOVIC: When will they come off? When will they come off the island?

PYNE: Well that’s what’s going on right now, that started last year, at the end of last year. But that obviously takes time, but the reality is the deal is going ahead and I actually think Bill Shorten doesn’t want the deal to go ahead he would rather have those people on Manus Island and Nauru at the next election.

ALBANESE: Seriously Christopher, the challenge for you mate this year and this is your first appearance on the show, is to appear just once without talking about Bill Shorten.

PYNE: Well it would be nice if Bill Shorten could show a bit of statesmenlike behaviour.

ALBANESE: You’re the Government, and the fact is that these people who have been found to be asylum seekers need to be settled somewhere. They have been there for three years.

PYNE: And you put them there.

STEFANOVIC: What is the Plan B if it doesn’t go ahead?

PYNE: The deal is going ahead, that’s been the whole point of last week’s conversation.

STEFANOVIC: One hundred per cent categorically, one hundred per cent this morning the deal is going ahead?

PYNE: Absolutely, President Trump committed to it, his White House spokesman has committed to it, now twice. I heard it on the radio coming to work this morning, the Embassy committed to it yesterday, the State Department committed to it yesterday, the deal is going ahead, Malcolm Turnbull has stood up for Australia’s interests…

STEFANOVIC: Are you sure it’s going ahead?

PYNE: Well I couldn’t have been clearer this morning Karl, Malcolm Turnbull put Australia first. Bill Shorten is always putting his political interests first, because he’s just a Labor (inaudible) hack.

ALBANESE: Well you’ve got your talking points Christopher, but the problem here is…

PYNE: Well do you really think that Bill Shorten wants those people out of Nauru and Manus Island? Because he doesn’t act like it.

ALBANESE: Well you’re the Government, Christopher, and you need to solve this and you haven’t solved it. Now you’re in your second term where you’ve been talking about finding a place for these people to be settled…

PYNE: These people are there because they came under your watch.

ALBANESE: We want these people to be settled, but we also want to make sure that when we talk about…

PYNE: Well I don’t think you do actually.

ALBANESE: Australia’s relationship with the United States that we’re honest about it. The problem here is, one, Malcolm Turnbull came out and said it was all fixed…

PYNE: It is fixed.

ALBANESE: Then we’ve had a shambles where the US President tried to conduct foreign policy and diplomacy through Twitter.

STEFANOVIC: Okay and what do you think about that Chris? Just in relation to what he said, he said it was a dumb deal, the worst by far, it flies against his own policy. The refugees on Manus and Nauru are from Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia, they’re all on the banned list. He’s accused the Prime Minister of trying to export the next Boston Bombers, I mean that’s just humiliating rhetoric from the President of the United States.

PYNE: And Malcolm Turnbull stood up to it, and the reality is that Australia’s interests are being put first, the deal will go ahead…

STEFANOVIC: So the President is just blustering is he?

PYNE: Let me answer the question. Sure it’s not a deal that Donald Trump would have done, if he had been President at the time. And he obviously doesn’t like the deal, but a deal is a deal and Malcolm Turnbull is making sure that it happens, he is getting the outcomes for Australia. And all we hear from the Labor Party is carping from the sidelines, because I don’t think they really want those people off of Manus and Nauru, they want them there at the next election.

STEFANOVIC: So the US President was out of line with his comments?

PYNE: Well I’m not going to comment on how Donald Trump conveys his views through Twitter or elsewhere.

STEFANOVIC: Well you don’t like it.

PYNE: Our alliance is very strong.

STEFANOVIC: Why don’t you just stand up and say you don’t like it?

PYNE: Malcolm Turnbull is standing up for Australia Karl. I’m not going to be drawn into a fight with the US President. The reality is, what we’re seeing from the Opposition is grotesque hypocrisy on their part because I don’t think they really want those people off Manus and Nauru. Bill Shorten would like them there at the next election.

ALBANESE: This is nonsense. The Government has stopped governing. They’re just into their first term and they can’t say a single sentence without talking about the leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, thank you guys.

PYNE: Pleasure.

STEFANOVIC: You okay Christopher?

PYNE: Welcome back, Happy New Year.

STEFANOVIC: So cranky this morning.

PYNE: Just telling the truth.

ALBANESE: On the top of the talking points it said: stay angry.