Oct 23, 2015

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects: Gun control; Joe Hockey’s retirement; man buns

SYLVIA JEFFREYS: We’re joined now this morning by Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese. Christopher, first to you, good morning. Why does anyone in Australia need a gun that fires eight shots in eight seconds?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, good morning Sylvia and good morning Anthony. Well, I don’t believe that they do. You’re right, Sylvia. We have the toughest gun laws in the world thanks to John Howard when he was Prime Minister, supported by the Labor Party I might add, following the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. We have acted to stop the importation of semi-automatic weapons that fire eight rounds in eight seconds or more than five rounds, and that’s why this is now in the news, because some people in the gun lobby would like to see us allow that particular new type of weapon into Australia and the government has acted to make sure that doesn’t happen, and I assume that we have the support of the Labor Party.

JEFFREYS: So you can say with absolute certainty that this semi-automatic weapon, this lever fired weapon will not make it onto our shores?

PYNE: Well, the reason I’m being lobbied by some people in my constituency is because we’ve stopped that weapon from being imported into Australia and I think we’re now acting, we’ve acted on the basis of regulation, we’re going to make sure that the laws are toughened up, so that they can’t even attempt to bring those weapons into Australia and I think that is the right step, on behalf of the government.

JEFFREYS: Anthony, do the laws need to be tougher?

ALBANESE: No. The government has done absolutely the right thing here as John Howard did the right thing. It’s one of John Howard’s greatest legacies. I think it’s something that Australians should be proud of – the fact that the leadership of Australia, in a bipartisan way, supports strong gun control and you compare that with the United States where they’ve confused the concept of liberty with the right of any lunatic to walk down the street with a semi-automatic weapon. It’s embarrassing for the United States. About once a week we seem to hear of a catastrophic massacre as a result of their lax gun laws and I don’t want to see that here and I don’t think any fair minded Australian wants to see that either.

JEFFREYS: Well I think Australians are very proud of our record in that case. Christopher?

PYNE: President Obama has been virtually begging the US Congress to act in a way that is much more consistent with Australia’s laws. It’s something about which we should be proud and I think we’ll always have bipartisan support in this regard.

JEFFREYS: Alright, we’ve got to move on. We have a lot to get through this morning. Former Treasurer Joe Hockey bid farewell to federal politics earlier this week after 20 years in the job. In his valedictory speech, Hockey urged both sides of government to stop the revolving door of leaders. Gentlemen, are we done changing leaders?

PYNE: We are. The Liberal Party certainly is. I think Anthony Albanese might have his eyes on the top job and if I was Bill Shorten I’d be resting not very easily in my bed at night, but certainly the government has.

ALBANESE: Good try from a bloke who’s just been a part of knocking off an elected Prime Minister in their first term.

JEFFREYS: Well, they’ve got reason to feel confident this week, Anthony. How low can the polls go before you change Bill Shorten?

ALBANESE: Malcolm Turnbull has had a lift in the polls, as you’d expect for any new leader. But what we need is not just a change of style, but a change of substance and at the moment there’s all the froth and bubble but no real change in terms of policies.

JEFFREYS: But how do you expect to win an election when your leader is on a 21% approval rating?

ALBANESE: It’s a tough poll. There’s no question about that. But you expect that after a change in leaders. That’s what happened when Julia Gillard took over the leadership from Kevin Rudd. It’s what happened also when Kevin Rudd took over the leadership from Julia Gillard.

If you want an example of how every new leader gets that immediate lift, wait and see what happens when people have a look at the substance of Malcolm Turnbull. The substance is that the same unfair cuts are in play; 136,000 single parents will be affected by the cuts that they introduced just this week.

PYNE: Anthony, I think people are looking at Malcolm Turnbull’s substance and they’re liking what they’re seeing. They’re liking the tone of the government. The fact that we got the China free trade agreement yesterday is just another example of getting things done.

JEFFREYS: There were divisions within your own party on show yesterday, Christopher, on same sex marriage. What’s going to happen? Are we going to see this plebiscite before the election?

PYNE: Well, unlike the Labor Party, Sylvia, we want to give every Australian a free vote on marriage equality. Labor just wants to give the parliamentarians a free vote. Now, I think it’s eminently fair in such an important change in policy that after the next election, there will be a plebiscite. The plebiscite will be binding on the parliament.

No politician in their right mind would hold a plebiscite of the Australian public and then turn around and say whatever the decision is, turn around and say they’re not going to implement it. So the public will get their way.

JEFFREYS: It seems Malcolm Turnbull is considering the plebiscite before the election. Are you saying he’s not of sound mind?

PYNE: No, I’m saying that any politician that held a plebiscite and then ignored it would not be of sound mind and they wouldn’t be elected. We’re talking about holding a plebiscite after the next election; that’s our policy. When the plebiscite is held, whatever the decision, whether it’s yes or no to marriage equality, that will be implemented and if the  parliament or the government at the time tries to not implement the people’s will in the House of Representatives, well woe betide that leader.

JEFFREYS: Alright, let’s mix things up very quickly. I know you’re both very conservative men with very conservative style, but let’s have a look at what Christopher Pyne and what Anthony Albanese might look at with the very modern trend of a man bun, because it’s becoming a bit of a trend in politics in the moment. Mr Obama has led the way. There he is.

PYNE: Oh, no!

JEFFREYS: Anthony Albanese, down there in Marrickville. You’d fit in a treat!

ALBANESE: No, no. It’s a bit like all the young people around Parliament House. They all have beards. They’re all back as well. Neither of them are good.

PYNE: If I grow my hair long, Sylvia, I’ll have an afro.

JEFFREYS: I think there’s nothing wrong with freshening up politics in Australia and that’s a very good place to start.

ALBANESE: No. Man buns, we’ll leave those to the Greens.

PYNE: I’d look the one from the Hair Bair Bunch with an afro.

JEFFREYS:  Just not quite as cuddly, Christopher. Thank you to you both for joining us this morning.