Aug 5, 2016

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects: Kevin Rudd, interest rates, banking Royal Commission 

LISA WILKINSON: Welcome back to the show. It has become one of the most bitter feuds ever in Australian politics. Kevin Rudd has let fly this morning and revealed the full extent of his anger over Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to shatter his dream of becoming the next head of the UN. Joining us now for the week in politics is Christopher Pyne from beautiful Adelaide. Good morning to you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Lisa.

WILKINSON: And here in the studio, Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you Albo.


WILKINSON: Christopher, to you first. Now, Kevin Rudd says in this rather lengthy interview with The Australian this morning and I quote “it is utterly untrue, utterly, utterly, utterly, utterly untrue that I was given to understand he would not support me”. Christopher.  Kevin Rudd obviously feels he was utterly betrayed by Malcolm Turnbull.

PYNE: Well, look, it is all about Kevin, as usual, with Kevin Rudd. And I think since the announcement that we wouldn’t nominate him for Secretary-General of the UN he has underlined why he was not a suitable candidate because his behaviour has been quite extraordinary. The Cabinet decided not to support him because like you write a reference for a former employee or for a friend, you shouldn’t do that if you don’t think that person is suitable for that the job. And the Cabinet’s view was that Kevin is not suitable for the role of Secretary-General of the UN mostly because of the character reference given to him by the Labor Party over a very long period of time and his behaviour since just confirms why he is not suitable. He says that Malcolm Turnbull had previously spoken to him on four occasions and had said that he would back him.

PYNE: Look, I’m not going to get into what Kevin Rudd wants everyone to get into, which is a myopic discussion of Kevin Rudd and his future. The truth is, he is no longer the Prime Minister. He is no longer in parliament. The Cabinet is not nominating him for Secretary-General of the UN. Everyone needs to move on, including Kevin.

WILKINSON: Is he right Anthony? Should Kevin Rudd just gather some dignity, be quiet and move on with his life? The truth is we know now the majority of the Cabinet supported Kevin Rudd’s bid.

PYNE: Not true.

ALBANESE: A majority of the Cabinet is leaking in the most extraordinary fashion. The detailed leaks are not from Kevin Rudd, they are from the Turnbull Cabinet. We know also that Malcolm Turnbull went to the trouble of getting Kevin Rudd to have a Wickr account so that they could have communication in what we know as Malcolm Turnbull’s preferred discrete way, if you like, of communicating by text.

WILKINSON: That has got to be a concern if it is true that the leaks are coming from the Turnbull Government.

PYNE: This issue is over Lisa. We are getting on with good government here in Australia. That’s why I as the Defence Industry Minister am getting on with delivering a defence industry for Australia. If Kevin Rudd wants to talk about himself over and over again, good luck to him. But we are all getting on with it.

ALBANESE: One of the reasons why this is such a big issue is because the government simply doesn’t have an agenda for the future.

PYNE: That’s absolute rubbish.

WILKINSON: Lets us move on because interest rates have this week hit historic lows. An astonishing 1.5% yet the banks aren’t passing on cuts to consumers causing the PM to demand banking bosses be brought before an annual inquiry. Now Christopher, we have seen the banks turn up to parliamentary inquiries before to little effect. What happens if the banks simply say they were a commercial enterprise, we have a commitment to our shareholders; we are not passing it on. There is nothing the government can do.

PYNE: Well Lisa, we have a very strong banking sector, it is one of the reasons why our economy is strong and I support the banks very much in what they have done for Australia in terms of building our economy.

ALBANESE: And pocketing extra profit.

PYNE: We also want to hold them to account. I mean, Labor can attack the banks and undermine our economy if they want to.

ALBANESE: No, we are supporting consumers is what we’re doing.

PYNE: And that’s exactly what the government is doing which is why we are going to require them, like the Reserve Bank Governor, like APRA to appear before a Parliamentary Inquiry at least once a year to explain some of their policies. That’s the least that they can do.

WILKINSON: Okay, but can we go back to what I said. If they say that this is what we are doing, we are a commercial enterprise, we are not passing it on because we want to remain viable as a business, what does the government do then?

PYNE: Well, the government has to put pressure on, as we have done.

WILKINSON: In what form?

PYNE: We have the lowest interest rates we have had in many, many decades. But the truth is, the government is not going to set prices Lisa.

WILKINSON: So what pressure can you put on them? You have got to explain that, Christopher. What pressure can you put on them to have any effect? PYNE: We can ask them to pass on the interest rate cuts.

WILKINSON: But you have they asked them to do that and they haven’t done it. Is Labor seriously proposing to introduce legislation to set prices for banks?

ALBANESE: No, what we are proposing is a Royal Commission in the interests of consumers into the financial services sector. That’s what we’re proposing and this committee is just a farce.

PYNE: We’ve got a committee. It’s called ASIC.

ALBANESE: It is a farce. I was on that committee for two terms. When I was first election to Parliament – and guess what, it was under the Howard government.

PYNE: Well you weren’t very good at it.

ALBANESE: The fact is that the banks appeared before the economics committee on a regular basis. There’s nothing new here at all. All that Malcolm Turnbull has said is “tut-tut”, at a time when the Reserve Bank has cut interest rates so it would stimulate the economy because it is needed because of this government’s lack of economic management.

PYNE: We effectively have a standing Royal Commission now.

WILKINSON: And it’s not having any effect. That is the problem.

PYNE: That is not true. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has more powers than a Royal Commission does. What Labor wants to do is basically have a talk fest. A

LBANESE: That’s nonsense and as soon as we announced the Royal Commission the banks responded immediately.

PYNE: Have a Royal Commission in the Labor Party, nothing happens for years.

WILKINSON: We are going to have to leave it there gentlemen. You two are going to have to take it outside.

ALBANESE: You’ll just continue to have Royal Commissions into Labor Governments.

WILKINSON: Or text each other or something.

ALBANESE: Have you got a Wickr account, Christopher?

PYNE: We all have a Wickr account. Everybody should have a Wickr account.

WILKINSON: We will see you next week. Thanks gentlemen. Over to you Karl.