Subjects; Malcolm Turnbull interview, Nationals leadership, Prime Minister’s Christmas Island trip, Christopher Pyne’s retirement.
DEBORAH KNIGHT: Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has unleashed on his Liberal colleagues, revealing in an interview with the BBC that he was dumped because his party didn’t want him to win the next election and calling the coup: ‘A peculiarly Australian form of madness’. The Government’s Christopher Pyne joins me now from Adelaide, along with Labor’s Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you both, fellas.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning.
KNIGHT: Christopher, you were in the Malcolm Turnbull cheer squad. Is he on the money here or is he just delusional?
PYNE: Look I think we’ve raked over those coals quite enough in the last few months, Deb, and I don’t propose to talk about it any further.
KNIGHT: It is damaging though, for this to be raised with just a few months now before the election. It seems for outside observers that this is the ultimate act of revenge.
PYNE: Well Deb, my focus is on keeping Labor out of office. We have a growing economy, growing jobs, we have the policies to keep that going. Labor instead wants to smash people’s incomes with a retiree tax, a housing tax, capital gains tax being cut by 50 per cent, and we have to keep them out of office.
KNIGHT: Would a party ever though vote out a leader because they didn’t want them to win?
PYNE: Look as I said, you know Malcolm can do whatever interviews he likes, as can other people, but the reality is we’ve got a job to do and that is to stop Labor from wrecking our economy, stop them from wrecking our border protection.
KNIGHT: Okay Albo, Labor wrote the playbook really on revolving leaders. Is this is a peculiarly Australian form of madness, as Malcolm says?
ALBANESE: Well Malcolm Turnbull’s right in saying that the coup last year was an act of madness. The fact is that you went from someone who was on 49 per cent two party preferred, had been ahead in 58 Newspolls in a row as preferred Prime Minister –
KNIGHT: But had lost 40 consecutive.
ALBANESE: – And chose someone who was the fourth choice, in Scott Morrison, to be Prime Minister and the fact is that no one can explain, not Scott Morrison, not Christopher Pyne, no one, still will explain to the Australian people why that happened.
KNIGHT: Well it’s damaging to be raised, that is sure, for old wounds to be opened up so close. But Christopher, it seems there’s no end to all of this – reports this morning that Barnaby Joyce could be back as Leader of the Nationals, with Michael McCormack losing the confidence of his party. Could we see yet another coup?
PYNE: Look I very much doubt it. I’m not responsible for the National Party, nor am I responsible for the number of leaders that the Labor Party churned through in the time that they were…
KNIGHT: But is Michael McCormack safe?
PYNE: I think the bottom line is what the public want is a government that moves forward with stability. We’re united behind our policies of reducing taxation, growing the economy, protecting our borders, sticking behind our leader Scott Morrison.
KNIGHT: You’re on message today, Christopher.
PYNE: And Labor are a danger to all of those things.
ALBANESE: It’s just talking points. The Government’s reduced to these simplistic talking points. Speaks about the economy, well the economy’s slowing, we saw that this week. Speaks about living standards, well wages are in decline in real terms, that’s one of the big issues at this election. And speaks about unity, yes people do want unity, they’ll get with the Labor Government. What we have here – the idea that Barnaby Joyce could come back as the Deputy Prime Minister quite frankly is farcical.
KNIGHT: Now the other big issue that’s being touted around, of course, is border protection and the Prime Minister toured the detention centre on Christmas Island this week, ahead of it reopening. It was a short trip, but a costly one, costing taxpayers around $60,000. Christopher, do you think that was money well spent?
PYNE: Well of course it was, because the Prime Minister wanted to see what it will look like when we reopen the Christmas Island detention centre because of Labor’s policy.
KNIGHT: Couldn’t he have raised those issues from here in Australia, though?
PYNE: Well he got briefings and viewed the various different facilities on Christmas Island as Prime Minister. This wouldn’t be necessary – it’s going to cost $1.4 billion – it wouldn’t be necessary if Labor hadn’t weakened our border protection policies when the Parliament last sat. It’s a disgraceful thing that Labor did. They did it to score political points, but it’s going to cost money and it will put people’s lives at risk.
KNIGHT: Albo, Bill Shorten was very strong on claiming this was a waste of money yesterday.
ALBANESE: As he should have been. Scott Morrison could have stood in front of a palm tree in Cronulla. He didn’t have to go anywhere outside of his electorate to do this press conference. What it showed is that the Government is all about politics with this issue. There’s been no weakening of any of our borders. You can have strong borders without being weak on humanity. That’s the position we’ve brought to this issue and the Government is just determined to run scare campaigns, because they haven’t got a positive agenda. They’ve run out of ideas.
PYNE: Goodness gracious.
ALBANESE: And in May, I hope they’re out of time as well.
KNIGHT: Triggering a ‘goodness gracious’.
PYNE: Last time Labor was in power Deb they had 50,000 unauthorised arrivals on 800 boats and the opened 17 detention centres. That’s what Labor’s policies look like.
ALBANESE: And last year you had a record number – a record number of people applied for asylum, last year. Twenty eight thousand here on your watch.
PYNE: That’s what Labor’s policies look like. You can talk over me all you like.
KNIGHT: This is like the old gang, hey? This is it. You’re back to normal now.
ALBANESE: On your watch, Christopher. Twenty eight thousand people while Peter Dutton is the Minister applied for asylum here last year. Record numbers.
PYNE: You can talk over me all you like. The public know you can’t protect our borders and we can. That’s the bottom line. We’ve got the record from your period in government.
KNIGHT: We are going to miss this when you go Christopher. You’re leaving us. You’re pulling the pin on Parliament. Breaking up the band.
PYNE: Well, you know, 51 years old I can start another career now, Deb, after 26 years in politics.
KNIGHT: What will you do?
PYNE: I haven’t decided finally yet. I’ve had a lot of offers. I’ve had a lot of offers.
ALBANESE: He’s got to work out what else he’s good at.
PYNE: I’ve got to work out exactly what I want to do, but it’s going to be a quieter life, perhaps less prominent, but I’ll still be barracking for the Liberal team, there’s no doubt about that.
KNIGHT: You would never be less prominent, Christopher, goodness me.
PYNE: A little bit less prominent.
ALBANESE: It’s one thing to leave Parliament, but he’s leaving the Today Show.
KNIGHT: I know.
ALBANESE: He’s breaking up the segment.
KNIGHT: I know. What are you going to get him as a farewell gift?
PYNE: What will I do without this money? What will I do without the salary from the Today Show?
KNIGHT: Oh the salary.
ALBANESE: I think his farewell gift is not having to turn up to Parliament.
KNIGHT: That’s the gift that keeps on giving, you reckon?
ALBANESE: That’s absolutely right.
PYNE: Anthony won’t be far behind, he’s desperate to get out.
KNIGHT: Really Albo?
ALBANESE: I’ll be there for a very long time. I’m just getting started.
PYNE: You won’t be able to go on without me. You’ll miss me.
ALBANESE: I wish Christopher and Caroline and the kids all the best.
PYNE: Thank you Anthony. I appreciate that.
KNIGHT: There you go. Well we will continue the sparring at least, as we head closer to the election.
ALBANESE: And we actually have had the discussion, we’re two of the people who will actually talk to each other post-Parliament.
PYNE: It’s true.
KNIGHT: That is true.
ALBANESE: That’s includes some of our colleagues.
PYNE: Anthony is a friend.
KNIGHT: Well gentleman, thank you for joining us and we’ll work on a gift for you, don’t you worry about that, Christopher. We’ll come up with a creative Today Show idea has a parting farewell gift.
PYNE: I look forward to it.
KNIGHT: Alright, careful. Thanks fellas.
ALBANESE: Careful what you wish for.