Subjects: Inquiry into political interference at the ABC; police chase laws; NRL Grand Final.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Time now to thrash out the week in politics, and hasn’t it been that, with Labor’s Anthony Albanese and, in for Christopher Pyne this week, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. Good to see you guys. Thanks for being with us. Peter, you’re alive.
PETER DUTTON: I’m here.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Barely. He’s out of hiding. Good to see you Peter.
DUTTON: Little black eye, little bruised ribs. It’s all going well.
ALBANESE: I’m in Melbourne. I went out last night. It’s safe here Peter.
STEFANOVIC: Anything you want to report?
DUTTON: That’s good Albo, nothing to see in Melbourne? No African gangs there?
ALBANESE: It’s safe mate.
DUTTON: You’re a hero mate.
ALBANESE: Come out to dinner.
STEFANOVIC: Gee it’s on isn’t it, already?
DUTTON: You backing Collingwood or what’s going on?
STEFANOVIC: Hey Peter, you’ve had a couple of weeks now to have good, cold, hard, think about things and Albo did call you a cold character in August, but we’re not going to dwell on that. Have you come to any conclusions yet as to why you did it?
DUTTON: Look I think it’s obvious that the Government has done very well under Scott Morrison. I think he’s got a good story to tell. I think people can relate to him. I think he’s down to earth, he’s talking about issues that are relevant to families and I think Albo, you know, might get a chance to pull a baton out again at some stage. It’s sort of snuck out on a couple of occasions that he’s willing to belt Shorten with it at some point, but hasn’t had the guts to stand up yet. So I’d watch this space. I think the Government’s doing well and I think we’re back in the race, which is a good thing because Bill Shorten would be a disastrous Prime Minister Karl, as we well know.
STEFANOVIC: So Peter, no regrets at all?
DUTTON: No, none. And I believe very strongly that we were well on our way to a significant defeat at the election and I honestly believe that Bill Shorten will be a disaster if he’s elected Prime Minister. Anthony Albanese actually believes that as well. If he’s going to be honest he’ll talk about it. So we’re back in the game and Scott Morrison has done I think very well. I think he’s started strongly and I think the Australian public are listening to what he’s got to say and talking about getting power prices down, talking about issues which are relevant to families. I think the Government is doing well.
STEFANOVIC: Albo, Scott Morrison one on one is belting Bill Shorten. When are you going to make a move?
ALBANESE: The Government is in chaos. And for Peter Dutton to talk about leadership issues does show a boldness that he is known for.
DUTTON: Rule it out Albo, rule it out.
ALBANESE: Look I’ve ruled it out a thousand times Peter. What I’m focused on …
STEFANOVIC: All right let’s keep moving, there’s a fair bit to get through. Albo, Labor’s ABC is a mess this morning. The whole board needs to go now doesn’t it?
ALBANESE: The ABC certainly is a mess and board members who can’t do their job should be considering their position. And what the board needs is people on it who will stand up for the independence of the ABC. It is critical that it be a public broadcaster not a government broadcaster. And what we’ve seen is though a mess of the Government’s making. It’s the Government that continues to try and intimidate the ABC, that is so frightened of any criticism at all. These poor shrinking violets blame the media for their own failings.
STEFANOVIC: Well because Labor in its past has never ever tried to intimidate or bully journalists.
ALBANESE: Well they certainly haven’t done bullying and intimidation of the ABC. It’s perfectly legitimate to have a criticism of a news story and to do that publically and to have that debate. What’s not legitimate is to say that people should be sacked for having a different view over a particular report in the way that the Government has behaved over Andrew Probyn, over Emma Alberici, and perhaps others.
STEFANOVIC: Ok Peter, have you ever put pressure on the national broadcaster or any journalist in particular?
DUTTON: No, but I’ve made complaints to the ABC before and I’ve had on-air retractions because there is a bias within some elements of the ABC.
STEFANOVIC: So should the whole board go now?
DUTTON: Well there’s an investigation that’s underway by the Secretary of the Communications Department at the moment. So let that investigation take place, get to the bottom of it, see what the recommendations are and make decisions from there.
STEFANOVIC: There is some call …
ALBANESE: Imagine what the Government would be like if they had to put up with what Labor has from the commercial media. We just have to roll with it. The front pages, the caricatures – all of that goes on against us. The idea that the media is biased against the Coalition in this country is bizarre. When you have the ABC, that from time to time upsets all sides of politics but is overwhelmingly balanced for most of the time, they get upset.
STEFANOVIC: Do you know what you should do, Albo? You should order one of those Senate Inquiries that couldn’t even get rid of Peter Dutton.
ALBANESE: Well, we’ll wait and see.
DUTTON: Try and get a witness that is credible next time Albo.
ALBANESE: There’s still a doubt over whether he should sit in the Parliament. We’ll wait and see. He won’t refer himself to the High Court. He should.
DUTTON: Albo, you’ll back me I’m sure.
STEFANOVIC: All right, let’s move on. I did want to ask – we are running out of time gentlemen. I did want to ask Peter, on a very serious note if I can, about this Queensland Police Officer who is in a critical condition in hospital after another police chase. You used to be a cop, obviously. Aren’t we at the point now where the country does need uniform rules around chases and different technologies need to be examined now, so that we can stop this from happening from both sides?
DUTTON: Obviously the answer is yes, Karl. As I understand it this police officer has only been in the Queensland Police Service for about four years and he’s in intensive care at the moment. So obviously everybody’s thoughts and prayers are with him. That’s the primary consideration. But we’re commemorating National Police Remembrance Day – a number of us will be going to services today. And it’s just a stark reminder of how dangerous the job is. But yes, we do need to look afresh, I think, at the chase laws allowing people to get into stolen cars knowing that they’re not going to be pursued is a very dangerous outcome. And have a look at the investigation and see what can be recommended as a result of this particular matter. But it is a very dangerous job and we need to remind ourselves that we’re a lucky community, that whilst most of us will flee a dangerous situation, police are running into harm’s way to protect us and we recognise that during National Police Remembrance Day.
STEFANOVIC: It’s such an important day. The police union is calling for engine immobilising technology – let’s look at that, let’s try to get something done, let’s get the national Government involved with this as well as – obviously the state governments to try and get some uniform rules going. Thank you gentlemen so much for this, best of luck with your respective teams over the – oh that’s right South Sydney lost.
ALBANESE: Thanks for the reminder mate. I’m totally neutral now.
STEFANOVIC: You’re like the ABC.
ALBANESE: Yes that’s right. Well, we’re all Melbourne Storm supporters now, those of us who are Souths supporters. So …
STEFANOVIC: All right, good on you guys.
ALBANESE: It’s an alliance between Souths and Queenslanders. I think they’ll all be going for the Storm.
STEFANOVIC: Well, there you go, we’ve finally got you guys together. Thanks so much for your time today. Appreciate it.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.