Sep 2, 2016

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects: Coalition Government in chaos, Parliament returns

WILKINSON: We’re joined now by Defence Industry Minister, Christopher Pyne and Shadow Transport and Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you, gentlemen.

ALBANESE: Good morning.

PYNE: Good morning Lisa, good morning Anthony.

WILKINSON: Christopher, I’m going to start with you – this is the first week back and you’re the Manager of Government Business, did you give those Government Ministers and MPs permission to leave early?

PYNE: Of course not, Lisa. And there’s no doubt that what happened late yesterday afternoon was a stuff up and those people who weren’t there obviously they learned a valuable lesson and, in fact, everyone learned a valuable lesson. But there’s no point in pointing the finger at individuals.

The truth is that in the 43rd Parliament, the Gillard Government, Anthony Albanese lost 61 votes on the floor of the House of Representatives. These were three procedural votes and quite frankly, people out there in the community are more worried about jobs, they’re more worried about feeding themselves and their children than they are about three adjournment votes in the House of Representatives.

WILKINSON: Well hang on Christopher, this actually strikes at the heart of whether or not you’ve got a stable working majority. You know, 76 seats in the lower house means you’ve only got one seat that makes you a majority. This really strikes at the heart of what lies ahead, because if you don’t have those numbers in the lower house, then you don’t have a government.

PYNE: Well Lisa, we do have the government and of course we won every vote this week except for the three procedural votes to adjourn the House. Now, when the Gillard Government was in power, Anthony Albanese lost serious votes.

WILKINSON: As the Manager of Business Christopher, this is your job, as the Manager of Government Business, how on earth could you let this sort of sloppy government happen at the end of the first week of its sitting?

PYNE: It’s certainly a salutary lesson for anyone who went home before the House rose yesterday afternoon and I’m absolutely certain that they won’t do that again.

WILKINSON: What have you done? Michael Keenan was brought back; he was actually on a flight. He’s been brought back to talk to the Prime Minister. What’s the Prime Minister going to say to him?

PYNE: Well Lisa, the internal machinations of the Liberal Party and how we manage our affairs, or the National Party for that matter are not of great interest to people out in the community getting on there with their lives, going to work this morning, going to school this morning. So how we manage our internal affairs is not something that I intend to talk about on the Today Show today.

WILKINSON: But Christopher, this is important stuff because it was one vote away from that Banking Royal Commission getting up, and this was something that was very important to the Government.

PYNE: And that’s why it’s very important that people learn a lesson from it, and, but as I say, the bigger issues are Sam Dastyari and his clear issues that he has and whether he should be resigning from the Labor Party front bench, which clearly he should. Bill Shorten’s authority over his own Party and ability to control Sam Dastyari and the right wing of NSW-

WILKINSON: Sure, and we’ll get to that in a moment but the truth is the Government was outmanoeuvred yesterday.

PYNE: Well as I said, when Anthony Albanese was Leader of the House the Labor Party lost 61 votes on the floor of the House so this kind of thing does happen, well that’s what the Parliamentary Library says.

ALBANESE: Nonsense.

WILKINSON: Anthony, your response?

ALBANESE: You’ve had your go – there are times when you should be quiet Christopher, and I’ll give you a bit of advice; be very quiet today. If you can’t run the Parliament, you can’t run the country. We were in control during three years of minority Government. Each and every day of the Parliament.

This mob with a majority Government, couldn’t get through three days. It was a farce yesterday. It shows, as an example of, just how out of touch this Government is. It doesn’t have an agenda. It doesn’t have ideas, and now it doesn’t have control of the House of Representatives.

WILKINSON: Alright, let’s move on. Attorney-General George Brandis has questioned whether Labor frontbencher Sam Dastyari has compromised himself after letting a company with links to the Chinese Government pay some of his personal expenses. Anthony, Mr Dastyari has now paid the money back, but should that really be the end of it? He’s been caught advocating views about the South China Sea that go against Labor Party policy. Surely he should be stood down?

ALBANESE: Well that’s not right. He supports the Labor Party policy on those issues.

WILKINSON: Well he said Australia should be quiet when it comes to the South China Sea?

ALBANESE: He supports the Labor policy, and he’s made that very clear. And when it comes to the issue of the donation, he has said that he made an error of judgement. This is a company, by the way, that donated many times more than that to the Liberal Party.

WILKINSON: A donation is one thing, to actually have your personal expenses paid.

ALBANESE: Well these were work expenses, out there working.

WILKINSON: But he’d overspent. So he should have been paying that money himself.

ALBANESE: Yes and he has said that that is the case and he has said that it’s an error of judgement. And unlike the Government, that today and this morning again we’ve heard, Christopher Pyne try and distract from the meltdown that happened in the Parliament yesterday, he’s accepted his responsibility. He’s apologised for it, he’s paid the money back. It’s done.

WILKINSON: That’s the end of it? Are you happy with that Anthony?

ALBANESE: Well it’s done. He made an error of judgement. From time to time people will make errors. He’s done one; he’s ‘fessed up. He’s paid the money back. It’s been dealt with.

WILKINSON: Alright, ok. We’re going to leave it there. Anthony and Christopher, thanks for your time this morning.