Jan 29, 2016

Transcript of television interview – Today Show, Nine Network

Subjects; Labor’s education package, Tony Abbott, FebFast

LISA WILKINSON: Joining at us now on our regular Friday look at politics it’s good morning to Christopher Pyne who is in the studio in Adelaide for us and here in the studio Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you gentlemen.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

PYNE: Good morning Lisa, happy new year, welcome back.

WILKINSON: And to you, good to see you two back together as well. Now, Anthony, Bill Shorten has also pledged to reverse the government’s $30 billion reduction to school funding that was announced in the 2014 Budget. So, how are you going to pay for all this?

ALBANESE: Well, we’ve already announced $70 billion of savings through measures such as closing the loopholes that are there on superannuation concessions at the high end, in terms of cutting down on multinational tax avoidance.

In some of the measures that we’ve announced such as not proceeding with the government’s new baby bonus scheme, in getting rid of its Emissions Reductions Fund that we don’t believe is effective in tackling climate change.

We’ve announced all this which has given us the space to make this very significant announcement because nothing is more important for our future than making sure that every Australian child has the best opportunity to succeed through a good education.

WILKINSON: Well, Christopher you were the former education minister. Here is what Shadow Minister for Education, Kate Ellis had to say to you yesterday.

KATE ELLIS: This is about restoring accountability and transparency that Christopher Pyne ripped away when he was Education Minister.

WILKINSON: How do you respond to that Christopher?

PYNE: Well, Kate doesn’t really know what she’s talking about, unfortunately. What’s really important is the outcomes for students. It’s not huge, unfunded spending commitments that Labor are trying to do to try and get the agenda back from Malcolm Turnbull. What we need to focus on in school education is teacher quality, parental engagement, the autonomy in schools and the curriculum. That’s what the government’s been doing federally for the last two years.

The States and Territories deliver education through schools, because they are responsible for it. Now, Labor has come up with a $37 billion policy over 10 years and are using the same savings they have announced for a whole lot of other spending measures as well for this one, too. Now, it would be nice if you could use the same dollar over and over again to do the same thing, to do different things as well but you can’t.

Now, Labor has no economic credibility. What I want to see in education is not a focus on throwing money at the problem. We’ve already spent 50% more on education in the last 10 years than we did in the previous 10 years. What I want to see is a focus as the government is on the things that really matter, teacher quality is preeminent amongst that.

That’s what I was doing when I was Education Minister.

WILKINSON: But when you cut that much money out of the 2014 budget –

PYNE: We didn’t cut any money out of education.

WILKINSON: You cut $30 billion out.

PYNE: No, no. We didn’t cut any money out of education, Lisa. Spending on education increases every year. What we did was we went back to the four year funding agreements with the states and territories, the Catholics and the independents and so that’s why it looked like there was less money but in fact over time there is much more money going into education. Labor is trying to pretend they have $37 billion. Now, that’s not real world and the public know it isn’t.

ALBANESE: It looked like was there was less money because there was. Christopher Pyne and the Coalition went to the election with every polling booth having billboards saying every school will get the same amount of money whether Labor or the Coalition are elected.

PYNE: And they are.

ALBANESE: They got elected; they stopped the funding for years five which and six for the Gonski formula which is the $4.5 billion that the states and territories had signed up to. And then they said, oh, we’ll just renegotiate it all for years five and six, took it as a massive saving in the budget and walked away from the important formula that had been worked through. This wasn’t something just thought up overnight.

This was an extensive process about how we get that long-term certainty for education funding that values every single child regardless of their background.

PYNE: Lisa, Labor always thinks that if you throw more money at a problem it will solve it.

ALBANESE: They said they would do exactly the same thing. They lied to the electorate. They said one thing before the election and another after.

PYNE: That’s not true.


PYNE: As a parent myself I know than there’s a lot more to education than just spending money.

ALBANESE: There is, but I tell you what, it helps if a kid has a problem with numeracy and literacy if they’ve got that one on one teaching. That’s what this formula provides for. That’s why the states and territories, including right here in New South Wales, to give credit where credit’s due, Adrian Piccolo has called out Christopher Pyne and the Federal Coalition Government on this from the time the cuts came in.

WILKINSON: NAPLAN are certainly saying that our standards are falling. Let’s move on. Tony Abbott is currently in the US where he will address a conservative body that opposes abortion and wants to end gay marriage. it’s called the Alliance Defending Freedom. Christopher, the PM has said that Tony Abbott can talk to whoever he wants to. But Tony Abbott’s clearly taking a stand here, isn’t he?

PYNE: Well Lisa, it’s a democracy in in Australia and Tony Abbott can say whatever he wants to whomever he wants. That’s called freedom of speech. I’m happy for him to do that. I don’t necessarily agree with the views of that organisation. Obviously I don’t but it’s a free country.

ALBANESE: Tony Abbott can certainly talk to whichever group of right-wing nut jobs in the United States he likes. Whichever one. ‘Cos there’s lots of them as we’re seeing at the moment with the right wing of politics in the US.

WILKINSON: Alright. Finally now Christopher we hear you are taking part in FebFast this year.

PYNE: I am.

WILKINSON: To support disadvantaged youth. Tell us, what are you giving up for the month?

PYNE: Alcohol.

WILKINSON: Simple as that?

PYNE: Simple as that. After the Christmas and new year period I think it would be good to spend February doing something good for myself and other people. So FebFast raises money for addiction amongst young people whether it’s alcohol or drugs. I’m spending the month without drinking any alcohol at all.

And Parliament is sitting for three weeks of that so hopefully I don’t start over eating instead. So I’m going to give up alcohol, so we need people to sponsor me so that we have lots of support for young people who have addictions of their own.

WILKINSON: And I gather you have a challenge for Albo.

PYNE: He should be joining me. Why doesn’t he join me? I join you every Friday morning. That’s enough. Give me a break!

WILKINSON: He needs a drink after meeting up with you on a Friday, by the sounds of things Christopher.

PYNE: Exactly.

WILKINSON: Well, well done.

ALBANESE: Yes, good on you Christopher.

WILKINSON: That is a really good cause. Thanks very much. Good to see you Albo. Thanks Christopher.