Jun 30, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subject: Pyne’s apology; Tony Abbott’s insurgency

STEFANOVIC: Well it has been a massive week in politics, quite the rumble with scandals and accusations flying left, right and centre. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us now. Good morning gentlemen.

ALBANESE: Good morning.

PYNE: Good morning Karl. Good morning Anthony.

STEFANOVIC: Christopher, how was your week?

PYNE: Well every week in politics Karl is a challenging and exciting week and this week has been no different to many others.

STEFANOVIC: It was a throwaway comment at a private function. Why did you have to say sorry?

PYNE: Look Karl, I think it’s probably time that everybody moved on from this issue. I think the Australian public are much more interested in things about jobs and defence and national security.

STEFANOVIC: I don’t think so. Not this morning. Are you actually sorry for the content of what you said?

PYNE: Look Karl I think the South Australian and the Australian public are thoroughly sick of being inside the bubble in Canberra and talking about who has got the ball and who has kicked it to whom, etcetera, each day. The reality is what they want us to do is focus on things like energy prices, about jobs, about wages, job security and that’s what I’m focused on.

STEFANOVIC: Why weren’t you focused on it the other night? You weren’t the other night.

PYNE: That’s what I’m doing in the defence industry, that’s why I’m delivering 12 submarines, nine future frigates, 12 offshore patrol vessels, driving capability, driving jobs, driving defence industry and technology and I’m going to keep focusing on that.

STEFANOVIC: Christopher, you weren’t focused on it the other night.

PYNE: Well I’ve been focused on it ever since the last election, since I’ve had this job.

STEFANOVIC: Come on Christopher.

PYNE: We are definitely making real in roads, kicking real goals.

STEFANOVIC: What about this, you believe marriage equality is the way to go though, don’t you? You do believe marriage equality is the way to go?

PYNE: Well Karl, we have a policy that if Labor had supported we would have marriage equality now.

STEFANOVIC: So why say sorry?

PYNE: If Labor had supported the plebiscite, it would have been held in February, and if it had been carried, which would have been the democratic decision of the Australian people, marriage equality could have been legislated for in February or March. So the only person who is standing in the way of marriage equality is Bill Shorten I’m afraid.

STEFANOVIC: So why say sorry then? What have you got to hide?

PYNE: I think I’ve dealt with that issue Karl.

STEFANOVIC: Anthony, do you think he has dealt with it?

ALBANESE: No he hasn’t dealt with it because indeed I think Christopher shouldn’t have apologised. He made private comments at a private function and with regard to marriage equality, Christopher doesn’t support a plebiscite. Very few people do. The only person who did was Tony Abbott, who doesn’t support a plebiscite, he supports blocking marriage equality and it was a blocking move by him.

STEFANOVIC: On the subject of Tony Abbott, it’s a bigger issue here, isn’t it? He’s lurking with menace and intent. Do you lay awake thinking about Tony Abbott at night?

PYNE: Is that to me or to Anthony?

STEFANOVIC: Do you think it’s to Anthony?

PYNE: Well it could be, it could be. He’s only had one question poor fellow.

STEFANOVIC: It’s obviously to you.

PYNE: No, I actually sleep very well Karl. I’m a very heavy sleeper and I get on with every day. I’ve been in Parliament for quite a while. Challenges, as you know, come and go and this week has had it’s challenges, as have many other weeks and I’m just getting on with the job of delivering for South Australia, for Sturt and for Australia in the area of defence and defence industry.

STEFANOVIC: Come on, it’s been incredibly disruptive just to say the least. He wants you to pay and he also wants the Prime Minister to pay. When will the Prime Minister stand up and put Tony Abbott back in his place, or is he too weak?

PYNE: Look Karl, politics is not about personalities. It’s about policy and it’s about outcomes for the voters who put us there and they are thoroughly sick of this old politics where it’s all about personality from day to day. What they want us to keep doing, and what the Government is doing…

STEFANOVIC: Okay, is someone telling Tony Abbott that? Is the Prime Minister telling Tony Abbott that? Because someone needs to put him in place and the Prime Minister clearly doesn’t want to do it.

PYNE: Well the Government is chalking up significant victories, things like school funding…

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Anthony?

ALBANESE: Well this is the week when Tony Abbott has actually gone nuclear. And he’s gone nuclear targeting this bloke here, Christopher Pyne. He came out with a policy yesterday clearly designed to just attack Christopher Pyne through a policy framework arguing out of nowhere that Australia should develop a nuclear industry including nuclear subs.

STEFANOVIC: He’s coming at you.

ALBANESE: They’re not governing the country.

STEFANOVIC: Tony Abbott is coming at you. You are a massive target in his sights.

PYNE: We are chalking up significant victories, Karl whether it’s things like income tax cuts…

STEFANOVIC: Have you spoken to Tony Abbott?

PYNE: The Australian Building and Construction Commission, the Registered Organisations Commission, the schools funding…

STEFANOVIC: Have you spoken to Tony Abbott?

PYNE:… reforms, childcare reforms …

STEFANOVIC: Christopher, you’re a straight talker. This is what people find rubbish about Australian politics.

PYNE: I’m trying to get a word in.

STEFANOVIC: Just talk straight about Tony Abbott. He needs to be put in his place, doesn’t he?

PYNE: Karl, we’re just getting on with the job.

STEFANOVIC: You’re not getting on with the job because what happened in the last week? Look what happened.

PYNE: Well I’ve been getting on with the job all week. I’ve been making decisions and being active in the area of defence and defence industry as has Marise Payne, as have all of my Cabinet colleagues and the Prime Minister so we just have to keep doing what the public want us to do which is chalking up significant reforms. A lot of people said twelve months ago Karl…

STEFANOVIC: What are you going to do about Tony Abbott?

PYNE: A lot of people said 12 months ago Karl that the government wouldn’t be able to get things through the Senate. We’ve been getting more through the Senate in the last 12 months than governments have got through in the last many years.

STEFANOVIC: Christopher, what are you going to do about Tony Abbott?

PYNE: We are actually governing, and governing well and I think the public see that.

STEFANOVIC: It’s like a broken record, and a bad one.

ALBANESE: He’s got his talking points today Karl, but the fact is…

STEFANOVIC: Okay, I’m not done with you yet Albo either. I mean if you had your stuff together you’d be further in front. Why aren’t you further in front?

ALBANESE: We’re on 53-47.

STEFANOVIC: It should be more! They’re a basket case at the moment!

ALBANESE: We’ve been ahead in every Newspoll. Well we’ll wait and see what the next one says.

STEFANOVIC: No pressure on Bill Shorten?

ALBANESE: No. Look, the Australian people know that they’ve stopped governing for them and what they’re obsessed about is their own internals. I mean, this is Fight Club. This is Pacquiao vs. Horn and it’s being played out each and every day. They can’t govern because they’re too busy with their internals.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. Will the Prime Minister stand up to Tony Abbott at some point, Christopher?

PYNE: Well Karl, I just think that is an irrelevant question, quite frankly. We are getting on with what the people have asked us to do which is governing Australia.

ALBANESE: The question that Australians are asking themselves, and it’s what people are saying to me, is that they expected something different from Malcolm Turnbull when he became Prime Minister. They welcomed it, frankly.

Since then what we’ve got is a Prime Minister in name only. A government’s that dominated by Tony Abbott just there going on with all his angry grievances for the fact that he got knocked off. Malcolm Turnbull needs to take him on or step aside.

STEFANOVIC: Alright. Good to talk to you guys. Have a great weekend. Lovely to see you.