Subjects: By-elections, Emma Husar, banks, drought.
GEORGIE GARDNER: Treasurer Scott Morrison has taken aim at Bill Shorten for not taking control of the drama that is gripping the Labor Party as explosive allegations continue to haunt Labor MP Emma Husar, who has denied claims she exposed herself to a staff member. We are joined now by Labor’s Anthony Albanese in the studio and, in Adelaide, Christopher Pyne. Good morning to you both.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning, Georgie.
GARDNER: Anthony Albanese, good to see you. Where have you been? You have been lying low since those by-elections?
ALBANESE: Not at all.
GARNDER: Where are those leadership ambitions?
ALBANESE: Well they are your leadership ambitions. I said last week that there wasn’t an issue here; that I thought we would always win the by-elections. The media, I think, have been a little caught out. And why Malcolm Turnbull talked up the chances of getting a one-in-100-year result says everything about him.
GARDNER: All right – by-elections over. Let’s talk about your current crisis – allegations of misusing entitlements and staff, workplace bullying, intimidation, verbal abuse, sexual harassment. Emma Husar is a huge liability to Labor, isn’t she? Isn’t she?
ALBANESE: What we have here is a process in place and the idea that you should have a running commentary while there is an independent investigation taking place is not fair, either to Emma Husar or to the people who have made complaints about her.
GARDNER: But these complaints are coming from within Labor ranks. They are not coming from the Government.
ALBANESE: Well, what is extraordinary, I find this week, is the amount of coverage that rumours and unfounded allegations at this point are getting at the same time as what we actually know has happened, as fact, this week, is that almost half a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money was given to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, an organisation that had six employees at the time; an organisation that had a minuscule budget; and all of a sudden, without a tender process, without anything at all, there’s almost half a billion dollars in a meeting between Malcolm Turnbull, Josh Frydenberg and the foundation. That, we know is fact, and it has had very little coverage. It should be receiving more because that is the story of this week.
GARDNER: Christopher I will give you a right of reply to that.
PYNE: Well Georgie, I’m not responsible for that particular part of the Government’s policy. It is a good attempt on Anthony Albanese’s part to try and flick the switch to another subject. Obviously all those things will come out if there are any issues around them. But nobody other than the Labor Party is suggesting that there are. I do think the situation with Emma Husar, originally of course we were saying from the Government that it needed to go through the proper investigative process and Jack Whelan is doing that on behalf of the Labor Party. But the stories keep coming internally from within Labor and unfortunately for Bill Shorten, he is the Leader of the Labor Party and I do think that he needs to take personal responsibility for solving what has become a rolling crisis.
GARDNER: And should Emma Husar contest the next election?
PYNE: That will be a matter for the outcome of this investigation and the Labor Party’s pre-selection processes. But if this was a Liberal MP, the media and the Labor Party would be demanding that Malcolm Turnbull take personal responsibility for solving it and I think we are at that point now where Bill Shorten needs to step up as the Labor Leader and deal with what is obviously a very serious series of issues, ensuring that Emma Husar gets the rights that all Australians should have to protect her own reputation. But I don’t think he can allow this to drag on as long as it has so far.
GARDNER: Time will tell and Lindsay obviously a crucial seat. Let’s move on. The Productivity Commission’s final report into our banks will be released today revealing again how loyal customers are exploited. Christopher can you guarantee we are going to see change here? I mean, banks have had it good for so long, haven’t they?
PYNE: The Government has been good to the banks – both Labor and Liberal – over a long time because they have been the foundation in many respects of the stability of our economy. Don’t forget during the Global Financial Crisis we gave guarantees to the banks to ensure they were protected and to stabilise our economy. So they have a responsibility to give back to Australia and to our economy. The Royal Commission will make a series of recommendations I am sure. The Government will consider those and I would be very surprised if we didn’t implement whatever Kenneth Hayne thought was going to be better for Australian consumers. Banks have got to remember Georgie that the consumer should be their only interest – not profit, not themselves, but it should be only the consumer and the consumer’s best interests.
GARDNER: Anthony, some of the banking customers have been farmers. There is an opportunity for the banks to help out farmers isn’t there?
ALBANESE: Well there is an opportunity to help out farmers and other customers. The Government resisted this Royal Commission on around about 20 occasions. The fact is that this Royal Commission has been vindicated by the extraordinary revelations that have come out about banks essentially misusing their power. And one of the ways it has been misused is against people on the land who have had interventions against them in ways that are quite outrageous, I think. And at a time when our farmers are suffering, they need every support.
GARDNER: They do indeed. We are taking the show out to the bush on Monday. We are highly excited about it and looking forward to it. Good to see you both. Thank you so much. Have a great weekend. See you next week.
ALBANESE: Good to be here. Go the Rabbitohs tonight!
KARL STEFANOVIC: There he is.There he is.
ALBANESE: You can watch it on Nine. That’s how to get yourself in the grab.
GARDNER: Calling the shots, Anthony Albanese.
STEFANOVIC: And it is good to see him back.