Mar 27, 2015

Transcript of television interview – The Today Show, Nine network

Subjects: Metadata retention laws, NSW election, cricket

LISA WILKINSON: Let’s get reaction from our political heavies, Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, good morning to both of you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Lisa.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

WILKINSON: Both of you were onside with this, there was bipartisan support for this bill to be passed so there were problems there. But people do have a few problems this Christopher. With this newfound power and being able to access our very personal internet and phone records, how can you ensure that this won’t be misused? You can’t really, can you?

PYNE: Well, we can. I mean right now the Federal Government has, and State Governments have for that matter very wide policing powers that requires you to get warrants to listen to people, for example, listening devices. They use that and very sensibly and responsibly and they catch a lot of people doing the wrong thing. In 92% of cases from July to September last year  last year metadata was used in counter-terrorism actions by the Federal Police. So it has been extremely helpful. You can’t see what is inside the envelope, if you like. It is all the information outside the envelope. It’s where the emails are going to, who is responding to them, what time of the day etc. That is how they caught this Adrian Bayley criminal in Victoria who killed Jill Meagher using metadata from his mobile phone. So you are right, it is needs to be sparingly used but it is very powerful in terms of being able to catch people doing the wrong thing.

WILKINSON: Have you got any idea be at this stage how many people will be able to access it if they decided they wanted to?

PYNE: There’s 20 agencies. So it was planned to be 80, it’s now down to 20.

WILKISNON: And that’s how many people?

PYNE: Well, it’s not a question of people being able to – you won’t be able to drop in and have a look at people’s metadata. You will need to have proper processes in place so that there is for example, an investigation going on and the police might decide they need to see the metadata and there will be senior people involved in all those decisions. It is not just anybody’s going to be able to drop in and have a look, the whole department of the Federal Police, for example.

WILKINSON: Moving on, and let’s get on to the government’s turn around in the polls in week. A few weeks ago Tony Abbott’s leadership was on the line now it looks like the pressure is on Bill Shorten. Anthony you’ve got to be a little bit concerned about that at a time when Australia would have been turning to look at the alternative to Tony Abbott, who in the leadership spill, a third of his own party didn’t want him there. So Bill Shorten is somebody that is being closely scrutinised and it seems Australia don’t like what they see.

ALBANESE: If election was held tomorrow Bill Shorten would be the Prime Minister according to the polls. He would be the Prime Minister. He has been ahead in the polls since the end of 2013. The alternative in the short term, in the next week or so, to Tony Abbott is actually within his own party – Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull.

WILKINSON: But Tony Abbott, by his own admission, has had a very ordinary start to the year. Shouldn’t Bill Shorten be further be ahead? Shouldn’t your party really be leading the polls at the moment?

ALBANESE: We are leading and you look at the various polls, they have bounced around but they’re anywhere between 51 and 56. The good thing is for Labor that every one of the polls has a five at the front of it. That’s a winning score, Lisa.

WILKINSON: So you are comfortable with that lead?

ALBANESE: That has been the case. Of course, as we all know, as politicians will say, and you might have heard the term before, the only poll that counts is polling day.

WILKINSON: But you guys only ever use that when it suits you.

ALBANESE: When we’re behind, usually. And both sides do that. The truth is that politicians do look at the polls, but the polls are showing very positive outcomes.

WILKINSON: But a move away from Labor.

ALBANESE: One of showed them which showed a move away, that showed a move to us a fortnight ago. So I think tomorrow for example when people in NSW vote, if they actually want to remove Tony Abbott – if Luke Foley is elected premier tomorrow then Tony Abbott will be gone next week.

PYNE: That is a bit of a desperate gambit. Of course Anthony is the alternative to Bill Shorten. So Anthony, you put up a very good defence of Bill. But if Bill falls over Anthony will be the person who picks up the prize.

WILKINSON: And I’m sure you would be very pleased with that Christopher.

PYNE: Well actually I think Anthony would be a much better leader than Bill Shorten. I don’t think Bill Shorten has the substance to be the Prime Minister.  I think Anthony has a great deal more substance.

WILKINSON: Chris, we have seen quite a bit of you in videos in the last couple of weeks.

PYNE: It seems to be that way. A few people with not enough to do out there Lisa.

WILKINSON: We saw you previously as Mr Fix-It, now this last week we saw you as  a character in a Star Wars film – let’s have a look.

PYNE: They’ve gone to a lot of work, haven’t they?

WILKINSON: If this politics caper doesn’t work out for you, you do have another vocation you know.

PYNE: I look scarily relaxed in a general’s uniform, which worries me a bit!

ALBANESE: He fits in, doesn’t he?

PYNE: I like Peter Cushing’s face though in that scene. He looks very sceptical.

WILKINSON: Good stuff. Just quickly, who is going to win the cricket on Sunday?

PYNE: Australia hopefully. Definitely.

ALBANESE: The Aussies, they were awesome last night I thought. Mitchell Starc to take five.

PYNE: It was terrific that the Indians came in such huge numbers to support their team.

WILKINSON: Great atmosphere.

PYNE: It was apparently fantastic. It looked great on the television. But I hope the Australians win.

ALBANESE: With my Tourism Shadow Minister hat on, it has been fantastic for Australian tourism.

WILKINSON: Great to see you both, have a lovely weekend.