Subjects: Chaos in Parliament; Tony Abbott; marriage equality.
LISA WILKINSON: Well, it’s been a week when we have seen yet more embarrassment for the Government after mistakenly supporting a Bill put forward by Labor. For more I am joined now by Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg and Shadow Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese. Good morning to both of you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Morning.
JOSH FRYDENBERG: Morning.
WILKINSON: But Josh I’m going to go to you first. This was very embarrassing. What went wrong?
JOSH FRYDENBERG: Look this is a storm in a tea cup, Lisa, and a bit of Labor playing politics over policy. We made a very modest mistake voting in support of something we shouldn’t of. It’s a bit like you doing an interview and opening up with Karl’s lines, not your lines. It’s something we just laugh at and it’s not really serious.
WILKINSON: But you had a bit of a muck up with those absentee MPs a couple of weeks ago and with the wafer-thin majority that you’ve got you just can’t afford to make these kinds of mistakes right now can you?
FRYDENBERG: Well, look we are just getting on with the business of delivering for Australians. We actually had a great week. We had the Singaporean Prime Minister in town, delivered a strategic partnership, billions of dollars more in defence, free trade agreements, we are protecting the volunteer firefighters around Australia, we’ve passed savings bills through the Parliament. So we are getting on with the ojb and Labor will always put the politics before the policy and this really was a waste of the Parliament’s time Lisa.
WILKINSON: Anthony, nice to have the government actually supporting Labor for a change?
ALBANESE: Well this is a government that is simply chaotic. Three weeks ago we saw them lose a vote for the first time as a majority government in more than 50 years. And what we saw this week was them actually vote for a Labor amendment. For the first time a second reading amendment has been carried in the Parliament since Federation They are creating new precedent, this mob. They’ve got 76 in the House of Representatives. They said that they had a working majority. What’s clear is that they don’t have a working majority. They are so internally divided that they have forgotten about everyone on our side of the House because they are too worried looking behind them at the Abbott forces who are marshalling against the Turnbull Government that is diminishing before our very eyes.
WILKINSON: But Anthony, isn’t the irony here is that while this was a mistake, Labor is deliberately trying to bring the Parliament to a standstill right now and Australians are going to get fed up with both of you?
ALBANESE: We’re not at all. We are busy putting forward a positive agenda. What’s extraordinary is that the Government don’t have an agenda, They’ve come up with, in my area, this new departure tax out of nowhere. They said they then wanted to rush it through but didn’t even bother to bring it on for debate. You have the issue of marriage equality where a majority of the Parliament support marriage equality but we can’t get it because of a deal between Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott – Tony Abbott’s supporters or former supporters who ratted on him – as a condition of Malcolm Turnbull taking the position in the Lodge. I think what Australians are saying to themselves is what is the point of Malcolm Turnbull? He took over from Tony Abbott. We see Malcolm Turnbull but we hear Tony Abbott. We have the same policies and we don’t have an agenda. We have these slogans “jobs and growth’’ but nothing beneath it and I think Australians are seeing that – a second rate NBN, an education policy, attacks on Medicare …
FRYDENBERG: Keep running those lines, Albo. Keep running them mate.
ALBANESE: It’s just hopeless. They are hopeless.
WILKINSON: Let’s move on to a subject that hasn’t actually moved on and that is same-sex marriage. And while it may have been rejected, the issue is going absolutely nowhere. Josh why is the Prime Minister so against a free vote on this? This is a man who, before he became the Prime Minister of this country, was very pro same-sex marriage.
FRYDENBERG: Well, he absolutely supports same-sex marriage. So do I and a lot of my colleagues, but we went to the election with a policy and that policy was to have a plebiscite to allow people to have their say. And do you know Lisa, Bill Shorten supported a plebiscite.
WILKINSON: But it’s a non-binding plebiscite. Even if the Australian public support this, you haven’t guaranteed that it will hold; that it will actually go anywhere. So what is the point of spending $200 million on a plebiscite that goes nowhere?
FRYDENBERG: Lisa I think it’s very clear that this plebiscite, if it’s successful and the majority of the Australian people vote in favour, then it will become law, and that is where the polls indicate. And so the question for the Labor Party is do they want same-sex marriage to become legal in Australia and if they do the surest way, the fastest way, for that to happen is though the plebiscite. Look, they are still going on a victory lap after the last election even though they lost. And it’s a bit rich for Albo to talk about leadership issues. I mean, he’s got the baton in his saddlebag. He’s the people’s choice. He’s the one that Bill Shorten is looking over his shoulder at and, you know, the Labor Party should stop the politicking and if they are serious about same-sex marriage, just get on and support the plebiscite and before we know it same-sex marriage will be legal in Australia.
WILKINSON: All Right. OK. Unfortunately Albo, I am going to have to leave it there, but you did get a good run this morning.
ALBANESE: The point of the plebiscite is though, we’ll still have to have a parliamentary vote. Why not just get to it?.
WILKINSON: All right you did get the last word so that’s probably a good thing. Fair to everyone. Thank you. Have a great weekend guys.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.