Jul 7, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects; North Korea, Tony Abbott  

SYLVIA JEFFREYS: Well, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has this morning flown into a G20 storm, as the major global powers struggle to agree on how to deal with the North Korea nuclear threat.

Here at home in the meantime, the Acting Prime Minister has exposed confusion from within the Government about all of this, Barnaby Joyce yesterday backing sanctions on China.

But that idea was very quickly shut down by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join me now, good morning to you both.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Sylvia.

PRESENTER: Christopher, let’s clear this up first of all, for now Australia says no to sanctions on China. But what about sanctions on Chinese companies that deal with North Korea?

PYNE: Look, I think the Labor Party tried to exaggerate those comments yesterday. The reality is that Barnaby Joyce’s comments weren’t out of line, we don’t plan to have sanctions against China.

What we are planning to do though, is to continue to put pressure on China, to take steps with respect to North Korea.

China is North Korea’s largest export partner, largest economic partner and of course only military ally in the world. So if any country has influence over North Korea it is China, and even that of course is not as extensive as we would like it to be, because North Korea is essentially a rogue nation, and that is why they present such a serious threat to us all.

JEFFREYS: Christopher, how do you politely ask China to impose sanctions or to ask North Korea to stop shooting off missiles without any leverage?

PYNE: The whole world has leverage, because nobody wants a nuclear armed North Korea that is threatening its neighbours, or the United States or Australia. China don’t want that to happen either. So all of the countries of the world are working on this, but it is a very difficult issue because North Korea, as I said, is a rouge nation. And they have proven themselves in the past to be not susceptible to international pressure.

But we will continue to do everything we can to support the United States, Japan, South Korea and even China in putting pressure on that regime, rather than allowing it to spiral out of control.

JEFFREYS: Well if that is the case, Donald Trump this morning is certainly ramping up his threats against North Korea, also China. So if America sends military in, if they are looking at military action, do we follow suit?

PYNE: Sylvia we are a very long way from that eventuality. What President Trump is doing is making it very clear, as his Ambassador did in the United Nations yesterday, that the United States will look at their full gamut of opportunities to put pressure on this regime.

Neither the United States, nor Australia for that matter, want North Korea to have missiles that can deliver a payload to either Alaska or Northern Australia. It is a very serious matter and we support the United States in the pressure they are applying to that regime.

ALBANESE: This is serious. That’s why we need a serious response and that’s not what you get from Barnaby Joyce. I think it is becoming the case, that when Barnaby Joyce is Acting Prime Minister, Australians hold their breath.

Yesterday’s comments were just stupid, that’s why he was slapped down by Julie Bishop and by Mathias Cormann.

What we need is a peaceful resolution of this conflict. North Korea does represent a threat. It is a rogue state.

It needs the world, including our friends in the United States and China, to work together to ensure that there is a peaceful resolution to that threat.

JEFFREYS: There is certainly no coordinated approach to how to deal with North Korea at the moment, so there is a lot up for discussion. In Germany today, let’s move on.

Tony Abbott has officially become the Voldemort of the Liberal Party, the problem who shall not be named.

Christopher, it is impossible for anyone, with all the headlines right now, to forget Tony Abbott’s name. So why does Malcolm Turnbull avoid using it?

PYNE: Well I think that is a tenth, twentieth, hundredth order issue Sylvia. We have the G20, we have North Korea. In my area, I am working on jobs and investment and economic growth, in defence industry and national security. I’m not even going to entertain that question.

ALBANESE: He managed to give an answer without saying Tony Abbott at all. Just reinforcing the point.

JEFFREYS: Can you say his name, Christopher?

PYNE: Look, I’m not going to get into this sort of…

JEFFREYS: Can you say Tony Abbott?


PYNE: It’s just silly.

JEFFREYS: What is his name?

PYNE: Oh stop it, this is ridiculous.

JEFFREYS: Who was the Prime Minister before Malcolm Turnbull?

PYNE: Tony Abbott was.

ALBANESE: This isn’t a hundredth order issue, this is an issue that is dominating every waking hour of the Government.

It is a distraction. You can’t govern when you’re so focused on internals, and when you have the former Prime Minister out there, engaging like Fight Club.

Except it’s not a movie. It’s an ongoing series, a drama, and it’s becoming a bit of a comedy.

JEFFREYS: Do you know what? It’s been a tough week, it’s been a tough fortnight for you in particular, Christopher Pyne.

ALBANESE: He has had a better week this week.

JEFFREYS:  I say we ramp things up into the weekend with a bit of a pump-up song, what do you say?

PYNE: I have had a great week.

JEFFREYS: Are you familiar with this one, Christopher?

[Say My Name by Destiny’s Child plays]

JEFFREYS: Nothing, not a Destiny’s Child fan it seems. Alright. Well done gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

PYNE: Thank you.

JEFFREYS: Okay, Karl Stefanovic?

KARL STEFANOVIC: We want to see him dance. We need to see Christopher Pyne dance a little bit. Give us a little bit of a – come on!

ALBANESE: He’s clocked off!