Subjects: Education; MPs’ pay; The Muppets
LISA WILKINSON: Good morning gentlemen.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE INDUSTRY: Good morning Lisa.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning I think.
WILKINSON: Christopher finally some good news for the Government?
PYNE: Yes Lisa a big win last night on school funding. It’s a terrific reform. It will end decades of arguments about the school funding wars. It’s a needs-based model. Everyone is treated consistently across the country. No more 27 secret deals that the former Government did – the former Labor Government did – and it’s a terrific outcome and the crossbenchers supported it. We passed it this morning at 2am so Anthony and I are a little bit wan this morning.
WILKINSON: And Albo’s not very pleased because Labor remains strongly opposed to the plan, don’t you Albo?
ALBANESE: Well we are opposed to the plan because we don’t think it puts enough money into the system. We adopted a needs-based funding model. The Government has adopted the rhetoric but not the investment and that’s why we will continue to argue for more funding for schools, particularly for needy schools.
PYNE: He’s got the flu this morning, which is why he sounds a bit thick in the head. It’s $23 billion …
ALBANESE: Now you are just being mean.
PYNE: No it’s true. You’ve got a flu. He has been sick for two weeks actually.
ALBANESE: For the entire fortnight, I have had the flu and struggled through.
PYNE: It is $23 billion more money – $23 billion. We all know there is so much more to a good education than the funding, but we are still putting in $23 billion more, ending the school funding …
ALBANESE: That’s only compared with Tony Abbott’s cuts.
PYNE: I hadn’t finished.
ALBANESE: Well you are finished Christopher. The Government’s finished, let’s face it. It’s just limping toward its end.
PYNE: We’ve got two years before the election.
ALBANESE: It’s just limping away there. Struggling.
PYNE: It’s wishful thinking.
ALBANESE: Limping through to 2am.
PYNE: Nobody believes it. Go back to bed.
ALBANESE: We are becoming more and more like the Muppets.
PYNE: We shouldn’t be put together in the same studio.
WILKINSON: While we are talking money gentlemen let’s move on to the pay packets of federal politicians because they are certainly making headlines this morning after it was revealed you guys are going to receive a 2 per cent pay increase from next month, leaving some MPs $4000 a year better off. Albo, at a time when wages for everyone else are stagnant, are you comfortable with the pay increase?
PYNE: That was to you. Didn’t you hear it?
ALBANESE: No, sorry. My microphone is not happening at all.
WILKINSON: Can you hear me Albo?
PYNE: I’m happy to answer.
ALBANESE: You are coming in and out I am sorry.
WILKINSON: Albo, wages are going up by 2 per cent. Are you comfortable with that when everyone else’s wages are stagnant?
ALBANESE: Well what I am comfortable with is politicians not determining our own pay; it being at arm’s lengths from us. The first I knew about that was when I was told just before we can on air. It is appropriate that all our pay and conditions are not set by us but set by an independent tribunal.
WILKINSON: You could always resist.
PYNE: Well in fact we’ve had a pay freeze for the last couple of years Lisa, so the reality is that we don’t make these decisions.
WILKINSON: But so have most voters. You know they don’t have the possibility of choosing to or not to accept a pay increase. Most wages are remaining stagnant at the moment Christopher.
PYNE: Well in fact the Fair Work Commission has just increased the average wage for workers in a decision again, an independent decision, by the Fair Work Commission. They good thing about the way our salary and remunerations are set is that we actually have nothing to do with it. We are not asked out opinion about it. The Remuneration Tribunal sets it. We’ve had a couple of years of a freeze and quite frankly Anthony and I don’t do this job for the salary. We do it because it is a wonderful way of helping the society in which we live and we’d do it, even if we weren’t paid. I think we would probably have to get paid.
ALBANESE: Otherwise we would struggle.
PYNE: Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to live. We obviously don’t do it for the money. These decisions are made by the Remuneration Tribunal and we really have nothing to do with it.
WILKINSON: All right. I think you two need to go back to bed.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Yep, definitely.
PYNE: Well he can’t hear. Anthony can’t hear.
KARL STEFANOVIC: He can’t speak either.
PYNE: He’s got the flu.
ALBANESE: I can always speak. If I don’t know the question, I can give an answer.
PYNE: I will get him a Lemsip.
STEFANOVIC: The way you two look like this morning it has become very obvious to all of us here watching, do you remember, on the Muppets, Statler and Waldorf? I think we’ve got a photo here from inside the Muppets Camp.
PYNE: I’m going to get him a little Lemsip
ALBANESE: I don’t know what you just said, but I know it was probably bad.
PYNE: They are making fun of you.
ALBANESE: Why are you making fun of me?
PYNE: They are making fun of you.
ALBANESE: Here I am I’m turning up for work, unpaid. We could have 100 per cent increase on our Today Show salary.
PYNE: That’s true. That would be a nice change.
ALBANESE: It wouldn’t make much difference really.
WILKINSON: Fresh air and love, that’s what we give you.
PYNE: We’ve been offered money by other networks.
ALBANESE: We are in demand.
STEFANOVIC: Thank you. Very committed aren’t they.
WILKINSON: They certainly are, sort of.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.