May 19, 2017

Transcript of television interview – The Today Show

Subjects: Labor Party; Budget Reply

KARL STEFANOVIC: Anthony Albanese just tipped an enormous bucket on Bill Shorten. Well, that’s how the Huffington Post described their clash over the budget response. Anthony is here and Christopher Pyne joins me now from Adelaide. Gentlemen, good morning. Start your engines.



STEFANOVIC: Anthony, have you spoken to Bill Shorten since you tipped the bucket on him?

ALBANESE: Absolutely. That was ridiculous. This is fake news, to quote a prominent American.

STEFANOVIC: You’re now quoting Donald Trump?

ALBANESE: The fact is that the speech was approved in advance by Bill’s office. It was perfectly consistent with what Bill said in his Budget Reply which is that the government has adopted some of the rhetoric of Labor’s, speaking about needs-based education funding, speaking about the importance of Medicare, the importance of infrastructure, but they’re not actually doing it. There’s no conviction, and no substance and that’s why there is – to take education – $22 billion of cuts.

STEFANOVIC: You said, and I quote “Budget 2017 was an overwhelming victory for the ALP. It was the budget of ideological surrender”. Bill Shorten said “make no mistake; this is not a Labor budget.” They are poles apart, both those statements.

ALBANESE: That’s not right. If you look at the substance of the two speeches, they’re identical in terms of the narrative that’s there, which is we think the government has tried to adopt a Labor narrative but because unfairness is in their DNA, it’s an unfair budget. I went through in the speech, in detail, Medicare, education, infrastructure.

STEFANOVIC: You’re saying there’s no rift between you and Bill Shorten?

ALBANESE: Not at all.

STEFANOVIC: And there’s no difference of opinion on this?

ALBANESE: The only rift in Australian politics is on the other side between Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull who are at war with each other. Tony Abbott has gone out there and again said that the 2014 Budget is the gold standard and we know that that’s what the Liberals actually think.

STEFANOVIC: Are you getting ready to have a tilt?

ALBANESE: I’m getting ready to be a minister in a Shorten Labor Government and that’s what I’m working for in the next two years. Because this government is out of ideas. That’s why they’re trying to take on some of Labor’s narrative. Because they know that Australians won’t cop the unfairness.

STEFANOVIC: Are you sure you’re not getting ready for a tilt?

ALBANESE: Karl, good try. But the truth is that the only division in Australian politics is on the other side.

STEFANOVIC: Christopher, you must be delighted that Anthony liked your budget so much.

PYNE: Well Karl, Anthony’s thrown Bill under the bus this week and that speech marks the beginning of Anthony Albanese’s campaign for the Labor leadership because Bill Shorten’s numbers in the polls are so bad and have been consistently so bad that he’s holding back the Labor vote. Anthony knows it and so does the rest of the Labor Party. The truth is that what Anthony said this week is exactly what the government’s been saying, that’s it’s a centrist, pragmatic budget that is sensible, dealing with the issues as they arise, paying for the NDIS, reducing taxes, and Anthony Albanese’s completely endorsed the budget whereas Bill Shorten tried to attack it.

ALBANESE: Absolutely untrue and you know it. Christopher. It was a damning indictment of the budget.

PYNE: I didn’t interrupt you once. But if you read your –

ALBANESE: I wasn’t talking nonsense.

PYNE: If you read your speech you went through ad seriatum the items in the Budget and said that they were centrist, pragmatic, sensible and that Labor should –

ALBANESE: No I didn’t. I went through and spoke about the gap between the rhetoric and the reality.

PYNE: …opposite of what Bill Shorten said and as you know it, you fired the starter gun this week. And good luck to you! You’ll be much better than Bill. At least you believe in things. At least you’ve got some conviction.

STEFANOVIC: I like this.

PYNE: It’s a compliment.

ALBANESE: Christopher, all the division is on your side of politics and you know that that’s the case.

PYNE: You can’t wriggle out of this.

ALBANESE: You know that that’s the case.

PYNE: You’ve fired the starter gun.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Christopher.

PYNE: You’re out of the blocks!

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Christopher. You’re talking about Bill Shorten’s ratings but yours aren’t too flash either. Your twelfth consecutive poll loss. Things are pretty bleak.

PYNE: Not at all.

ALBANESE: You’re on 47 per cent!

PYNE: The budget has been well received. You know, John Howard spent much of the time of his eleven years in government behind in the polls because the only poll that matters is election day. We only have to make a sale every three years. So therefore we don’t have to worry about the polls.

STEFANOVIC: That’s not necessarily true. Malcolm Turnbull blamed the polls for getting rid of Tony Abbott so there’s obviously a bit more to it.

PYNE: No. Not really.

STEFANOVIC: Of course it was.

ALBANESE: Yes, it was.

STEFANOVIC: Righto, we’ve got to go.

PYNE: That’s a rewriting of history.

STEFANOVIC: Thank you, gentlemen.