Subjects: Live exports, Liberal Party pre-selection,
SYLVIA JEFFREYS: Thank you guys. Good morning again to you at home. The Agricultural Minister has announced tough new rules and penalties for live exporters, in response to distressing footage aired on 60 Minutes a few weeks ago. The crackdown though doesn’t go far enough for Liberal MP Sussan Ley. She’s broken ranks confirming she’ll put forward a Private Member’s Bill to phase out the sheep trade to Middle East.
Joining me now is Anthony Albanese and in Melbourne Christopher Pyne. Christopher, division in your ranks over this. Sussan Ley could derail the government’s plan.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Yesterday, Sylvia we announced a very tough crack down on the live sheep trade to make sure that the sheep are treated humanely. I think that was a very good decision by the Government. We take it incredibly seriously. We’re reducing the percentage of sheep that you can have per pen on those boats. We’re increasing the penalties – and the fines. Of course, we’re putting independent monitors on every single ship going to the Middle East which is a very good outcome. I think we’ll make a huge difference for the sheep and for the trade.
JEFFREYS: Thousands more sheep will die during the current summer months in the Middle East before that plan is implemented. Are you prioritising the exporters over the animals?
PYNE: Well, we have announced yesterday that the number of sheep you can have on the ships will be reduced by 28 per cent. We’ve also announced we’ll do further work on ventilation and on changing the ships to improve them – to get rid of old ships to have new ships with much better facilities for the sheep. It’s an important trade, but also has to be humanely treated. These sheep have to be humanly treated.
JEFFREYS: They won’t be over next few months and thousands more will die. Are you protecting exporters and profits over the animals?
PYNE: My understanding is that these regulations are being implemented as soon as possible. We’ll also introduce legislation to ensure this work can be done. We’ve responded as toughly as you can without banning the trade which will be going too far.
JEFFREYS: Are you disappointed that Sussan Ley has broken ranks on this – that she’s going against the party?
PYNE: Sussan Ley is a private member as we call them, a backbencher in the Government. She’s entitled to put a bill to the Parliament and have that debated at some stage. I welcome all backbenchers doing that. I think she is well within her rights. She has strong views about it. We’re not a Stalinist party. She certainly won’t be punished for having those views. She’s entitled to have those views.
JEFFREYS: Albo ending the trade permanently is going to wipe out jobs, it will destroy some farmers. What is Labor’s transition plan? How will you support farmers through that process?
ALBANESE: Transitioning to ending live exports will actually create jobs. It will create jobs in value adding here in Australia. We need to immediately end the export during the summer months. We know that it is…
JEFFREYS: Julia Gillard did that in 2011, it did not go well for her. The response from Indonesia was shocking. Has Bill Shorten not learnt from those mistakes?
ALBANESE: What we had in 2011 was very different. What we are saying here is that there’s a need to transition the industry away from live exports to ensure that jobs are not just protected but enhanced, but that during the summer months we know the consequences. The evidence is in and we need to respond to that. In the interests, not just of the animals themselves, but also in the long-term interests of the industry, they need that protection. They need to transition so that we see increased jobs created in places like Western Australia.
JEFFREYS: Whatever happens and however it happens farmers will need support. It is going to hit them quite badly. There is no doubt about that. I want to move on to Scott Morrison’s rather unusual press conference yesterday. He was publicly endorsing Ann Sudmalis, as she stares down a preselection battle in the seat of Gilmore in NSW. It follows the shock defeat of Jane Prentice in Queensland as well. Christopher, if Ann Sudmalis is a phenomenal member as the Treasurer says, why does she need his public endorsement like that? What is wrong with the pre-selection process in your party?
PYNE: There’s nothing wrong with the pre-selection process in the Liberal Party. It’s very democratic as it should be. Every member of the political party gets a vote in pre-selections in NSW and in South Australia. Every member of Parliament who wants to remain and candidates who want to stand are allowed to do so. The voters of the party will make a decision.
JEFFREYS: If it’s such a good system why are two very effective, very popular members of Parliament potentially losing their jobs? One has lost it and another one stands to lose it as well. How can that be based on merit?
PYNE: Well, it’s based on merit because nobody tells the preselectors how to vote. Jane Prentice is a great friend of mine and a good colleague. She lost her preselection, 260 votes to 105. Voters of Ryan decided that the preselectors of the party wanted a new member in Julian Simmonds. That’s democracy. I defeated a sitting member in a preselection 26 years ago. I’m sure he wasn’t happy about it – Ian Wilson my predecessor. That’s internal party democracy. That’s the way it works. The alternative is the smoke-filled room of the Labor Party, where they dole out seats to the factions.
ALBANESE: Clearly, the Liberal Party has a problem with women’s representation. The fact is they’ve been going backwards in the last few terms, at a time when Labor’s representation of women has surged to 48 per cent, after the next election we will hit the 50 per cent figure. The fact is Jane Prentice is a very effective local member. She’s one of the few people on the other side who understand cities and urban policy and public transport. I think she’s a great loss to the Parliament.
JEFFREYS: Very quickly speaking of elections, Albo, will you be leading Labor to the next election given this week’s polls.
ALBANESE: I’ll be doing the job that I’ve been given. I’ll be doing it to the best of my capacity as I do each and every day as part of the Labor team.
JEFFREYS: Alright. I’m afraid we’ve run out of time. There’s a little wedding happening in London over the weekend.
ALBANESE: We’ve noticed.
JEFFREYS: We must go back there as matter of urgency. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese thank you for your time.