Subjects: Parliament, Michaelia Cash, Jacinda Ardern, bullying.
BEN FORDHAM: What a week in Parliament – MPs in open warfare, accusations of affairs in ministerial offices, rumours, innuendo, mud-slinging and then this – the bizarre moment that security staff wheeled out a white board in the hallways of Parliament House to shield the embattled minister Michaelia Cash from the cameras. She is behind that white board there somewhere making her way – there she is – into Senate estimates. There is much to go through about this so let’s come to Albo and Christopher to get their take on the week. We better get that white board out of the way so we can see what’s going on here. Thank you very much. Welcome, thank you very much for joining us. Albo, good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
FORDHAM: Christopher, good morning.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Ben. Good morning Anthony
FORDHAM: You are not hiding behind a white board this morning Christopher?
PYNE: No, I’m right here in full view just for you.
FORDHAM: Was Michaelia hiding or was that security being overzealous?
PYNE: I don’t know whose idea that was for the white board. We had the white board once before in federal politics. People should put white boards away and go is through the normal processes. There nothing to see here, nothing to see here. Just keep moving.
FORDHAM: Let’s get serious. Albo, what’s going on? We have got so many issues in this country and families actually dealing with real dramas in their daily lives and have a look at the crap that’s going on in Canberra.
ALBANESE: Well that’s the technical term I think you’ve used there Ben. It is certainly the case that we need to do much, much better. Australians want parliamentarians to be concerned about their kids’ education, whether they can get health care if they get sick, whether their employment is secure, whether their wages are increasing. They are the issues we should be discussing in the Parliament.
FORDHAM: We know that. But that’s not the reality. This hasn’t just been going on this for this week or the last fortnight. This has been going on for months and months and months. Christopher, what can we do? Because it is no good sitting here saying “We should do better”. This is embarrassing what’s going on.
PYNE: Anthony and I are old school Ben actually. I think that families, staff, private lives are off limits. I think this whole imbroglio over the last month or so has been not a happy time for the country quite frankly. We need to get faith restored in politics. Yesterday we announced the largest investment in renewable energy in the southern hemisphere – the Snowy Hydro 2.0 – $6 billion, taking over the NSW and Victorian interests in the Snowy Hydro Scheme so we can get on with that job. The job of Government continues. Today the Prime Minister Zealand is seeing Jessica Ardern from New Zealand …
PYNE: I’m sorry, Jacinda Ardern. Jacinda Ardern from New Zealand. These are the issues that people care about. As Anthony said, wages, inflation, interest rates, tax cuts.
FORDHAM: This is the same New Zealand Prime Minister who our Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, said she wouldn’t be interested in meeting if she got into office. But anyway, let me leave that for one moment.
PYNE: There you go again, elevating the trivial over the important.
FORDHAM: I’ll tell you why. I will tell you why. You sit here talking about real policy but the problem is this is all drowned out by your people and your people who make a mockery of all this stuff. If it’s not Michaelia Cash naming and shaming or threatening to do so Labor staffers for having sex with the boss, it’s your bloke, Kim Carr yesterday, the Labor Senator who is looking at James Patterson, the Liberal Senator and suggesting he is part of the Hitler youth. Have a look at what happened yesterday.
KIM CARR: Those in the Hitler youth would understand that only too well.
JAMES PATTERSON: That is seriously, seriously offensive.
FORDHAM: If you want Michaelia Cash to apologise, Kim Carr needs to apologise.
ALBANESE: Kim Carr did. Kim Carr did. He went straight back into the Senate and apologised yesterday, as he should have. Michaelia Cash should have just simply apologised. She withdrew. She should have apologised and then move on. The problem here is that these issues go for far too long. They are a huge distraction and quite frankly it’s not good enough. The people of Australia do deserve better than what they are getting.
FORDHAM: Christopher, how juvenile when you’ve got Michaelia Cash saying “I unreservedly withdraw” but she can’t say the word sorry. I mean come on.
PYNE: This issue is over Karl. She withdrew it. We have all moved on. We’ve got better things to do with our lives than keep on talking about this kind of rubbish.
FORDHAM: I’m not Karl and the Prime Minister of New Zealand not Jessica. But anyway, fair dinkum.
PYNE: It’s because it’s Anthony’s birthday. I’m too excited.
FORDHAM: Let me raise this point. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wrote to we school principals this week saying we need to stop bullying. Can you see how hypocritical that is Albo when we have a look at that kind of mud-slinging on both sides of politics, the name-calling, the nastiness, the bullying? How hypocritical to lecture principals about stopping bullying when that’s what we see in Canberra.
ALBANESE: Sure, I can understand why you say that. But at the same time I support what Malcolm Turnbull did at this week. All of us who have kids are at school, I’m not sure that yours are quite there yet, know that this is a huge issue. It requires bipartisan support. I note this week, amongst all the noise, one of the fine moments this week was Malcolm Turnbull talking about that very issue and Bill Shorten providing support straight away on the floor of the Parliament. One of the things that happens unfortunately with the media is there is a whole lot of really good things happen that no-one sees. Yesterday there was an agreement to set up a bipartisan committee on constitutional recognition for the First Australians. Let’s hope we can get some progress there.
FORDHAM: I think it’s relevant to blame the media a lot of time for these things, but you can’t this week. You’ve got politicians …
FORDHAM: … who have sabotaged those conversations.
ALBANESE: And I don’t what think either of us have defended what happened this week.
FORDHAM: Actually, you’ve both been very well behaved this week now that I think about it.
ALBANESE: We are always well-behaved mate.
PYNE: We are always well behaved. We are always well behaved.
FORDHAM: Listen, the lovely the Georgie Gardner has got a gift for it the birthday boy. While she brings it in Christopher Pyne is going to lead us off on happy birthday. (sings Happy Birthday).
GEORGIE GARDNER: You’ll see it from says People’s Choice. That has come from Christopher.
PYNE: That was my idea.
FORDHAM: Have a good Friday Christopher and happy birthday Albo.