Mar 4, 2016

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects: Government infighting; negative gearing; Sharknado; Scott Morrison; George Pell; Royal Commission

KARL STEFANOVIC: Welcome back to the show, it’s been the a big week in politics hasn’t it, the debate about negative gearing rages on, questions remain about who leaked submarine information and tensions continue to simmer between Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us now this morning, nice to see you guys. Good morning.


ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

STEFANOVIC: Nice to see you, okay, let’s start with Christopher, have you spoken to Tony Abbott this week?

PYNE: Yes, of course I have, I have spoken to Tony Abbott. Several times.

STEFANOVIC: About the leaks?

PYNE: Well, I wouldn’t talk to him about that, no, because there’s an AFP investigation into the leak of classified national Security Council documents and that needs to serve its course, obviously.

STEFANOVIC: Pretty simple, despite something like that happening it’s pretty simple to ask somebody if they leaked the document.

PYNE: There are only very few people who had access to that document. We’ll see how the investigation goes, no, I wouldn’t be raising matters like that with him, and I wouldn’t immediately assume it was him.

STEFANOVIC: So how many people would hand have known about that document?

PYNE: A handful of people.

STEFANOVIC: So you know who those people are?

PYNE: Well, I’m not going to prejudge the AFP investigation, they know who they are…

STEFANOVIC: No, but you know who they are, this is you ridiculous, you know who they are, you just go and see who leaked the document.

PYNE: You can’t accuse all of them of leaking the document, can you?

STEFANOVIC: No, but you know exactly who it was, yeah?

PYNE: Karl, I don’t know who it was, no.

STEFANOVIC: The point is that this is continuing to destabilise Malcolm Turnbull. Have you had a word to Tony Abbott about just keeping his mouth shut?

PYNE: Well, we don’t feel in the least bit that the Government’s destabilised, in fact we’ve been getting on with the job as we always have. Issues like the Defence White Paper, the defence industry policy statement, the innovation agenda, we’ll be preparing now for a tax package and the budget.

STEFANOVIC: So you don’t think Tony Abbott is destabilising the Government?

PYNE: No, I don’t, and we had good news this week on the economy, 3% growth last year. We are doing the things that the Australians want us to do, focused on jobs, focused on growth.

Next week there will be more announcements around this. On the other hand on the Labor side we have a negative gearing policy which will smash housing and push down prices for existing houses and push up prices for new houses.

STEFANOVIC: You continue to have problems with that, is it down or up?

PYNE: No, no, no, Karl, there’s no problems, there’s  two types of housing, new housing and there’s old housing, so existing the prices will be pushed down, new housing the prices will be pushed up.

ALBANESE: What you aren’t talking about is what his policy is for housing affordability.

PYNE: I’d rather have no policies than your terrible policies.

ALBANESE: You concede you’ve got no policy. Good concession, Christopher.

PYNE: No, I’m just saying there’s no point having a bad policy.

STEFANOVIC: I want to finish off on Tony Abbott before we move on. You’ve got no dramas with Tony Abbott in your party?

PYNE: No, I don’t have any dramas with Tony Abbott.

STEFANOVIC: You won’t be talking to him? The PM doesn’t have any dramas?

PYNE: No Karl. We’re having a circular discussion.

STEFANOVIC: Because unless you get your house in order there’s going to be big problems for you.

PYNE: Well, that’s an opinion, I feel the government’s doing very well and I think the public think the government’s doing well too.

STEFANOVIC: How do you see this? You’ve got experience in this sort of thing.

ALBANESE: We were promised new politics, what we’ve got is an old vendetta. I have seen this movie, I know how it ends. What we see from Christopher there was a big concession that they have no policy. When he says better no policy than the policy that we’ve got. That is the position that he has put.

PYNE: You’ve got bad policy.

ALBANESE: I put a challenge to Christopher last week which is to work out in the last seven days that he’s actually the Government and we’ve had another week of drift, another week of conflict, this is like watching the Sharknado movie as they eat each other on the other side.


PYNE: That’s rubbish.

STEFANOVIC: Have you seen Sharknado? That’s exactly what happens, Chris.

ALBANESE: It’s a terrific movie, Christopher. Fully recommend it.

PYNE: I haven’t seen Sharknado.

STEFANOVIC: Maybe you should. You could learn some lessons. Scott Morrison make had an appalling week, didn’t he?

PYNE: No. You can’t just make assertions Karl and pretend that they’re questions.

STEFANOVIC: What do you then? How would you rate his week then?

PYNE: He had a very good week, we actually exposed the fact that the Labor Party’s negative gearing policy is to abolish negative gearing on everything other than new houses delivering a massive shock to the economy, pushing down house prices, pushing up rents…

ALBANESE: He’s got his talking points.

PYNE: …pushing down house prices for existing houses, I mean Labor’s negative gearing they have done no modelling on it, Karl, and they have no idea the damage it would do to the economy. They think that’s better than having a considered policy.

ALBANESE: This week they’ve relied upon a document which the authors of it said themselves had nothing to do with Labor’s policy.

PYNE: Well you ought to wish that the BIS Shrapnel was your policy, because it was a lot better than your terrible policy.

STEFANOVIC: Well, your Treasurer…

ALBANESE: It was a train wreck, it modelled New Zealand, mate. New Zealand. We’re Australia, we’re bigger.

PYNE: You ought to wish that the BIS Shrapnel policy was your policy.

ALBANESE: Put a policy out and we’ll have a debate about it.

PYNE: Labor’s policy is actually worse, because it reduces the discount on capital gains tax by 50%. The BIS Shrapnel policy is the only modelling which is better than yours.

STEFANOVIC: We’re going to finish on this one because it’s been a long week also for the Catholic Church. How do you think George Pell went, Anthony?

ALBANESE: I think it was very disappointing and it would have been very disturbing to the victims. I think the problem here is that it’s very obvious that for so many years, senior people in the church put what they saw as the institutional interests of the church before the actual parishioners and when you are talking about young kids it is very disturbing and the Catholic Church needs to come out and just say sorry, and make recompense and show a lot more humility than we have seen up to this point.

My old principal from my old school this week plead guilty to multiple charges. This is just very disturbing, and I felt sorry for the victims this week. And I’m quite pleased that one of the tough things we did in government was to establish that Royal Commission. That was a tough decision that former Prime Minister Julia Gillard deserves absolute credit for.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Christopher Pyne, Cardinal George Pell was not good in the witness stand. It was a revelation I guess for many people that he had not focused any attention on those victims at all and tried to ignore it.

He knew about it but he ignored it. That was a revelation to a lot of people. Should he go? What should happen to George Pell?

PYNE: Well Karl, I don’t think that Cardinal Pell admitted that he knew about it and did nothing. I don’t think that’s what happened at all.

STEFANOVIC: Yes, he did. Yes he did.

PYNE: Well, he said that it wasn’t of much interest to him, because he wasn’t the Bishop at the time. Look, I’m not here to defend Cardinal Pell.

STEFANOVIC: Well, you are. You just said he didn’t say that, he did.

PYNE: I’m not here to defend Cardinal Pell or the Catholic Church’s handling of paedophile priests. But I just think it needs to be clear what happened. I do think it’s good that Cardinal Pell met with the victims yesterday.

I hope that they get an audience with the Pope. I think it’s important for the victim’s sake that there is closure in this matter. Because obviously it’s a tragedy for them and their lives. Not to mention those people who have not made it this far, those who have committed suicide over the years, because of their treatment at the hands of paedophile priests and paedophile, and anyone who has been a paedophile.

This is a very awful part of our society, which we have to face up to.

I think it’s good that the Royal Commission has put these issues on the agenda, that people are getting the chance to air their terrible experiences, but I hope for their sake that they get to a point where they can say, I feel like I’ve had a chance to talk about this, I’ve got some closure and I can move on, because it’s obviously a very tragic area.

STEFANOVIC: Okay Chris, thank you for that and thank you Anthony. We’ll see you next week at the Rocks in Sydney, can you make that?

ALBANESE: With bells on.

STEFANOVIC: That is going to be scary.

WILKINSON: Pollies on the rocks! Thanks Karl.