Jul 15, 2016

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects: Election, Tony Abbott, Labor leadership, Malcolm Turnbull, election funding, trade unions

KARL STEFANOVIC: It’s been quite a week hasn’t it in politics? The Coalition has finally formed a majority government and Bill Shorten has conceded defeat. Labor giant Anthony Albanese – I’m calling you Labor giant now.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I used to be just a shadow minister.

STEFANOVIC: Well, now we are calling you the Greens Slayer. And Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer is here as well. Nice to see you both.

KELLY O’DWYER: I am also a greens slayer.

STEFANOVIC: You are also. Well done to you both and congratulations for being back in office. First of all, when is Tony Abbott coming back? Is he going to be on the frontbench again? I mean you need him. You almost stuffed it last time.

O’DWYER: Well we have formed a majority government …


O’DWYER: … and we have got a mandate to govern and the Prime Minister will make announcements as is the usual process  in terms of his ministry and I understand it will be sometime next week.

STEFANOVIC: Tony Abbott needs to come back though doesn’t he, given what happened in the election?

O’DWYER: Well look, I don’t get into commentary on my colleagues. I find that that is not a particularly useful thing to do. But I am sure the Prime Minister will evaluate very carefully his frontbench team and the roles that everybody can play that will be constructive.

STEFANOVIC: Do you think you let down the conservative side of the electorate – the really ultra conservative side of the electorate?

O’DWYER: Well, no I think the Liberal Party has got a grand tradition of encompassing both the small L liberal tradition and the big C conservatives and it’s a broad church in the Liberal Party and we are strong when we govern for the centre and we embrace those two traditions. And we haven’t moved away from that. That’s incredibly important. That’s what Menzies set up when he set up the Liberal Party.

STEFANOVIC: OK Albo, when are you going after Bill’s job?

ALBANESE: We’ve just been though an election campaign …

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, well you’ve got another one now.

ALBANESE: … and nominations close today for the leadership of the Labor Party.

O’DWYER: Are you doing it?

ALBANESE: … and Bill Shorten will be elected unopposed.

STEFANOVIC: Are you going to put your hand up though?

ALBANESE: No. Bill Shorten will be elected unopposed today. I am looking forward to serving in Bill Shorten’s Shadow Cabinet and I am interested in what is happening on the other side where if Tony Abbott is not in their best 30 to be a minister, then I find that extraordinary.

STEFANOVIC: It is pretty extraordinary, given that he was Prime Minister, that you can’t find a place for him on the frontbench.

O’DWYER: Well as I said …

ALBANESE: Is he in your best 30?

O’DWYER: It’s a matter for the Prime Minister.

ALBANESE: Not even in your best 13 or 15 or 18, your best 30.

O’DWYER: I think you are fibbing a little bit when you say you are excited to be part of Bill’s cabinet.

ALBANESE: No, no. I want to be a minister. Be very clear. I want to be a minister, be very clear, and didn’t get there.

O’DWYER: You’ve said in the past that you won’t guarantee, you won’t guarantee that you are not going to run for the leadership. So why don’t you today tell us?

ALBANESE: Well, nominations close today. But I’m not nominating.

STEFANOVIC: Well, down the track?

ALBANESE: I can’t be clearer than that.

O’DWYER: Are you going to guarantee down the track that you’re not going to run for leader?

ALBANESE: You just sort yourself out.

O’DWYER: There you go. He won’t give the guarantee.

STEFANOVIC: No, well he can’t really. Can you guarantee you’re not going to give it a tilt?

O’DWYER: Well I’m not going to run for leader. I can guarantee that.

STEFANOVIC: But years down the track you never know?

O’DWYER: I guarantee it.

STEFANOVIC: All right, let’s talk about Malcolm Turnbull.  He is your leader obviously. He has spent $1 million (revelations in The Australian today – significant story this) a million of his own money getting the party re-elected. Was he that desperate? Were you that desperate?

O’DWYER: Well I don’t know about party donations. That’s a matter for the organisation.

STEFANOVIC: It’s on the front page of The Australian.

O’DWYER: Well, just because it is on the front page of The Australian, as you well know, doesn’t make it true.

STEFANOVIC: I’d be going with it’s true.

O’DWYER: What I would say is with donations Karl, with donations, that in the last election the Labor Party and the union movement outspent us something like five to one.

ALBANESE: Oh, rubbish.

O’DWYER: And the difference with the Liberal Party …

ALBANESE: That’s just a lie. Are you saying that the Labor Party spent five times more than the Liberal Party in the last campaign?

O’DWYER: I’d like to finish. With the union movement, when you look at the donations that were made by them to the Labor Party in running their campaign, they compel their membership to support the Labor campaign. We say to individuals if you want to contribute to our campaign you can do that.

STEFANOVIC That’s all fine. But what do you think about Malcolm Turnbull actually spending $1 million of his own money?

O’DWYER: Well that’s a pretty significant point, about whether or not you should have the choice to spend your own money in contributing or whether or not you are compelled to do that through your membership of something like the CFMEU. Now, if you were serious about giving people choice, you would say to them you could choose …

STEFANOVIC I don’t want to go into the unions. I just want, if we can, your own thoughts on your own leader spending $1 million?

O’DWYER: Well, I said to you I have no idea about who has contributed what to the campaign. That all gets disclosed during the normal course of events. But what I would say is I think the bigger concern is that you have got individual members of unions who are forced to contribute to Labor campaigns, those scare campaigns that frankly you should distance yourself from ….

ALBANESE: This is a big lie. The fact is that Kelly’s little Higgins club down there that raises money where corporates go to functions paying thousands of dollars each, the shareholders of those companies don’t get a say in whether that money is going into that fund that is run in the Higgins electorate and has been run for many years. The fact is Kelly just said that we outspent the Liberals five to one. That is absurd. It’s a lie. The fact is it’s a lie.

STEFANOVIC: Let’s move on.

ALBANESE: And Malcolm Turnbull – I wish we had someone who had a lazy million dollars sitting in the corner that could just plonk into a campaign. We don’t have it.

O’DWYER: The CFMEU, the MUA – they all contribute to your campaigns and they ran a disgusting smear and scare campaign right across the country scaring old ladies …

STEFANOVIC: We’re not going to have any more negativity on this show. It is breakfast television and I want to talk about something really positive like how you are going to get anything through the Senate.

ALBANESE: More union bashing, that will help.

O’DWYER: Well, let me say this. We will work constructively with all of those people who are elected representatives in the Senate.

STEFANOVIC: Just name one bill that you reckon you might get through.

O’DWYER: Well I think we will get quite a lot through.

STEFANOVIC: Which one?

O’DWYER: I think that … We’ll let the Senate be formed first Karl. It hasn’t even been formed. The writs haven’t been returned yet. We don’t know exactly who is in the Senate as yet. But what I would say is that we will work constructively. We will work with those people in the Senate who are elected representatives and I think that is important. And the truth is we’ve got a mandate to govern. You guys will claim a mandate to wreck unfortunately. Now I think, I think, you should work constructively with us on actually getting through the agenda through the Senate and frankly the Labor Party you know could do that. They could assist, but if they are going to play wrecking, the wrecking game …

ALBANESE: This from the mob who two parliaments ago said they would wreck the Parliament and every day moved suspensions of standing orders.

O’DWYER: We didn’t say that. That’s just a lie.

ALBANESE: Tony Abbott did. He said they would wreck the Parliament and they sought about doing it.

STEFANOVIC: Hey, hey, hey hey, you two. You two. Zen like. The election’s done. Let’s move on. Let’s make this country great, yeah. All right, all in?

O’DWYER: Yeah, we’re all in, we’re all in.

STEFANOVIC: OK great. Thank you. Nice commitment.  See you soon.

ALBANESE: See you next week.

O’DWYER: See you.

STEFANOVIC: I don’t like him when he is grumpy. Lisa.

LISA WILKINSON: Peace maker. Thanks a lot.