Subjects: Peter Dutton, NEG, Aretha Franklin.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is reportedly considering resigning from Cabinet over the NEG, sparking wider leadership speculation this morning. Either way it is a big problem for the Government. We are joined now by Labor’s Anthony Albanese and in Adelaide, Christopher Pyne. Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning.
STEFANOVIC: Christopher to you first of all, is Peter Dutton going to have a crack or not?
PYNE: Absolutely not and Peter Dutton hasn’t said that he is going to resign over the NEG. He has outlined what ministers have to do if they don’t support a Government policy. At the same time he said that he does support the Government’s policy and I can tell you that the Cabinet is 100 per cent united behind Malcolm Turnbull and in the party room on Tuesday only four people said that they reserve their right not to vote for the NEG. Only four others had criticisms of the NEG and about 26 supported it. So there is a lot of hyper-ventilating going on, but we are listening to the party room and that is why the Prime Minister and the Cabinet will propose a big-stick approach to electricity prices next week, because we want to bring prices down too. That’s what we did with the gas companies and that is what we will do with the electricity companies.
STEFANOVIC: Have you laid your eyes on the NEG legislation yet?
PYNE: No. I haven’t seen the legislation. I am not the Minister for the Environment. That is Josh Frydenberg.
STEFANOVIC: Hang on, you haven’t seen the legislation, but Labor has seen the legislation?
PYNE: Well the legislation was shared with the states and territories on Tuesday night I believe.
STEFANOVIC: Hang on a second. Hang on a second. You haven’t seen the NEG legislation, but Labor has?
PYNE: Well, I could ask Josh Frydenberg for the legislation if I wanted to and he would give it to me.
STEFANOVIC: How can you vote for something you haven’t seen?
PYNE: Because it has been through the Cabinet. It has been through the ERC. I have read the submissions that have come …
STEFANOVIC: That’s a startling admission.
PYNE: Don’t be ridiculous Karl. I don’t read every piece of legislation. Nobody does. That is absurd. That is why we have Cabinet ministers.
STEFANOVIC: Have you seen the legislation?
ALBANESE: Well I haven’t seen it but certainly Labor has and the fact is…
STEFANOVIC: Before Christopher? That is absurd.
ALBANESE: This is a Government in absolute chaos.
PYNE: Karl, that is complete nonsense. You read the submissions …
STEFANOVIC: You haven’t read the legislation, but Labor has. That is extraordinary.
PYNE: No, its not. You read the submissions in the Cabinet and you respond to those submissions. As everybody knows, the idea that I read every piece of legislation you know is complete nonsense and I don’t know why you are taking the interview in this direction.
STEFANOVIC: It has been pretty topical, the NEG, this week. I would have thought you would at least throw your eyes over it.
ALBANESE: He’s the Leader of the House.
PYNE: I know what the legislation does. I know what the NEG is. I support it 100 per cent. We are toughening it up with a big-stick approach to electricity companies and I certainly didn’t read every piece of legislation that went through the Parliament this week. Six pieces of legislation went through the Parliament this week.
STEFANOVIC: If you are not annoyed there are members of your own party who certainly are. Inside Parliament they are furious that they haven’t seen the legislation but Labor has.
PYNE: Well I am sure if they ask Josh Frydenberg for it he will share it with them.
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that Christopher has just come on national TV and said it’s all OK because only four people are going to definitely cross the floor and only four others might cross the floor. They don’t know what they are doing. Peter Dutton went on radio yesterday and outlined the path that he is considering – resigning from Cabinet to go to the backbench to challenge Malcolm Turnbull. That now has been laid bare for all to see. This is a Government in absolute chaos and of course we know the Peter Dutton is just a glove puppet for Tony Abbott, who is back there, back there on the backbench causing all of this chaos.
STEFANOVIC: You haven’t seen the policy or this legislation either yet, but is Labor going to back it?
ALBANESE: Well we haven’t had consideration of it yet. We don’t know how it will end up. It hasn’t been properly approved by the Coalition. The states were asked to sign up to something before they knew what it was. This is chaos. We are waiting for these guys to get a semblance of their act together before we finalise our position.
STEFANOVIC: Christopher, this is the thing – you could very well lose five seats in Queensland alone at the next election You are on the ropes right now.
PYNE: No we are not. We are not on the ropes Karl. The polls are about 50-50 and there’s a lot of hyper-ventilating going on and there’s a few people I think who are trying to put the band back together from the late 2000 and noughties.
STEFANOVIC: Who’s that? Who’s trying to put the band …
ALBANESE: They are in your party room, mate.
PYNE: I think we know who they are but the reality is the Government is getting on with the job of putting the energy policy together. We have to work with the states, the territories, our party room. We are listening to our party room and we will ensure that electricity prices keep coming down. And if we need to use a big stick to do so, we will introduce the penalties, just like we did the gas companies when we said we would have export controls on gas and gas prices came down. We aren’t afraid to take firm action.
ALBANESE: The problem with the big stick is that the Coalition Party room have got it and they are belting themselves in the head. This is self-flagellation from the party room.
STEFANOVIC: I think you have gone into a territory that we can’t go into on breakfast TV and as much as I love you …
ALBANESE: You can show it after nine maybe.
STEFANOVIC: We can show it after nine for sure. Thank you gentlemen and just before we go Aretha Franklin passing – it is very sad news, but also we are celebrating her life. It’s a shame people in the Senate didn’t have a little more R-E-S-P-E-C-T this week, but what’s your favourite song Chris?
PYNE: Well definitely R-E-S-P-E-C-T is my favourite Aretha Franklin song.
STEFANOVIC: Sing it.
PYNE: No I’m not singing it.
STEFANOVIC: You know you want to.
ALBANESE: You do.
PYNE: Well I like singing. I can sing. I can sing.
ALBANESE: Lighten up Christopher. This is your chance. Start a new career.
PYNE: You are the cool DJ.
ALBANESE: You might need one soon mate. I am trying to help you out.
PYNE: Well, you can get me a job as a DJ.
STEFANOVIC: And how the wheel turns. It’s DJ Albo. What’s your favourite?
ALBANESE: This is great, but Sisters are Doing it for Themselves is pretty cool too.
STEFANOVIC: Beautiful stuff. I think that might have been the Pointer Sisters.
ALBANESE: Was it? No it wasn’t. They did it in the movie.
STEFANOVIC: Yes. Beverley Hills Cop.
ALBANESE: Yes. Or one of them.
PYNE: Brush your hair Karl.
STEFANOVIC: You are so knowledgeable for a DJ. Thanks Albo. Thanks Christopher. See you soon.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.