Subjects; Michaelia Cash; AWU; High Court ruling today; Barnaby Joyce; possible New England by-election
DEBORAH KNIGHT: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us now, good morning to you fellas.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning, Deb.
KNIGHT: Christopher, Michaelia Cash has delivered this disastrous own goal for the government, so much for putting the spotlight on Bill Shorten this week.
PYNE: Well the truth is that Bill Shorten has a lot of questions to answer about the misuse of union members’ funds and producing the document that proves that he didn’t actually misuse those funds by making donations to his own campaign and to GetUp back in the early 2000s, so the reality is if he can produce the minutes that showed that he followed the processes of the union which is all he’s been asked to do, and if he won’t then the AWU should and the Registered Organisations Commission wouldn’t have had to organise the AFP raids on the AWU offices.
KNIGHT: Okay, but the buck is meant to stop with the minister when stuff ups happen. That’s how the system works. If a senior staffer for Michaelia Cash has resigned surely she has to go to.
PYNE: Well, Penny Wong should resign then too I guess because she had her chief of staff organising to try and get rid of the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia with the New Zealand Opposition, so what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
KNIGHT: But Michaelia Cash misled parliament, didn’t she?
PYNE: No she didn’t. She told the truth to the estimates. When she found out she’d been misled she immediately told estimates and owned up to it and apologised and that’s all you can do. She didn’t deliberately mislead the parliament and if it’s one rule for Michaelia Cash it’s got to be the same rule for everyone else. Bill Shorten bought Sam Dastyari back onto the frontbench after Sam Dastyari had his personal bills being paid by Chinese donors. I mean honestly.
ALBANESE: And he resigned. Not a great example. Not a great example to you, Christopher.
PYNE: Straight back, Anthony, onto the frontbench within a matter of months.
ALBANESE: He’s not on the frontbench.
PYNE: He is, on the frontbench in the Senate.
ALBANESE: He’s not.
KNIGHT: Well Albo, you guys must be high-fiving. You’ve dodged a huge bullet on this one.
ALBANESE: The truth is what happened on Wednesday morning in a debate with Christopher Pyne, in another forum that we do I said that Michaelia Cash…
PYNE: One of our many shows.
KNIGHT: You’re a dynamic duo, aren’t you?
ALBANESE: …Michaelia Cash’s staff had let the media know. And we know that the TV cameras were there before the police. It defies belief that that debate happened, which Christopher Pyne said at the time was untrue. Christopher knows a bit about politics, he would have told them straight away what had been alleged.
Michaelia Cash says she saw the transcript. She misled the Senate not once, not twice, but five times. She has to go. Her position is untenable. The ministerial code of conduct is not worth the paper it’s written on if Malcolm Turnbull keeps this minister there. He should just cash out. She should go.
KNIGHT: Bill Shorten is not off the hook over this one either. He has some serious questions to answer and the seed has been planted about questions being raised about the donations and the money granted when he was the head of the AWU.
ALBANESE: This is, of course, just farcical. The AWU have said they’ll provide whatever documents. They’ve provided it all already for the Royal Commission. We had $80 million of taxpayers’ funds spent on an inquiry which was aimed at getting Bill Shorten. This is a government which is prepared to misuse the power that governments have to have inquiries. We’ve had former Prime Ministers Rudd and Gillard, we’ve had Labor leader Bill Shorten, we’ve had all of these inquiries. We had an inquiry into institutional sexual abuse of children which had a great public good at its heart. This government is all about politics and trying to misuse power.
KNIGHT: It does scream of overreach here, Christopher. I mean, why was a raid necessary? Why couldn’t a request simply have been put in for the AWU to simply hand over the documents? They’ve done that in the past, why did we need a raid and this drama?
PYNE: Deb, that’s exactly what happened. The Registered Organisations Commission asked the AWU for the documents. They believed, they had a reasonable suspicion that the offices of the AWU might be going to destroy documents. They asked a magistrate for a warrant. They didn’t simply just raid the offices. The magistrate gave the warrant because they believed the suspicion was well founded. There are of course CFMEU officials before the court right now for the destruction of documents…
ALBANESE: A suspicion based on nothing.
PYNE: And as a consequence when the AWU did not provide the correct answers to the Registered Organisations Commission the AFP raided the offices.
ALBANESE: The questions weren’t asked. The TV cameras came before the police. The AWU found out there was about to be a raid because the media that were outside their offices told them.
KNIGHT: It is going to be a big day today as well for the citizenship seven, as they’re known, the High Court at 2.15pm will hand down their ruling on whether they can stay in parliament, Christopher what are you going to do if Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce is without a job?
PYNE: Well, we’ll have a by-election. That’s what we’ll do. So if the High Court finds against Barnaby Joyce today, there will be a by-election in New England and we will campaign to win it. We will ask the people of New England to re-elect Barnaby Joyce and I hope that’s what will happen.
KNIGHT: They will be welcoming another opportunity to elect their third Federal MP in such a short period of time, but Albo, what do you think? Will we see a mass sacking this afternoon?
ALBANESE: Well, we’ll wait and see. I don’t want to pre-empt the High Court’s decision but you know, the Constitution, the law is there for a reason. It’s no accident, I don’t think, that there are no Labor or Liberal MPs before the High Court this afternoon. They’re all from minor parties. We certainly in the Labor Party do our due diligence and I think that this is a government that doesn’t want to face a by-election.
If Barnaby Joyce is removed this afternoon, they lose their majority. They’ve already lost their capacity to govern. This will just formalise that.
KNIGHT: Alright, well we’ll wait and see, the decision coming down at 2.15pm. Nine News will be all across it as well. Fellas, thanks for joining us this morning.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
PYNE: Pleasure, Deb. Thank you.