Subjects: Childcare, Budget, Indonesia, same-sex marriage conscience vote
KARL STEFANOVIC: Welcome back to the program, it is time now for a look back on the week in politics and a little look ahead too. Joining me is Education Minister Christopher Pyne, good morning Chris and Shadow Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese’s back from holidays folks. Get ready.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Back and firing Karl.
STEFANOVIC: I hear that. I do hear that. Let’s go to you first Chris first of all the Budget’s not far away now, thank goodness. Working parents to get a boost they say in the Australian today, but stay at home mums to miss out. Is that true?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well good morning Karl, and welcome back Anthony, it’s nice to have you back in the country after your lovely long break. I hope you are feeling very rested.
STEFANOVIC: Are you having a crack?
PYNE: No, no, I’ve been here keeping the shop, keeping the shop you while you’ve been away.
ALBANESE: How did Fitzy go mate?
PYNE: I’m glad you’re back. He wasn’t too bad. Better than you in some respects and not as good as you in others. It’s a backhanded compliment. Working families, yeah, it is very important, the IGR, the intergenerational report set out how important it is for us to build our workforce over the next 50 years, we have to get as many people as possible participating in the workforce. We have to be as productive as we can, so where people want to work and can work we need to get them the skills but also we need to get them the support in childcare that allows them to work, so there will be in the budget some major package for families, and for small business, and the childcare announcements Scott Morrison will make with the Prime Minister at the appropriate time but they’ll be designed to make the system simpler to put more resources in the hands of families, and to give them the freedom to be able to get into the workforce if they want to.
STEFANOVIC: So what you’re going to do is you’re going to subsidise childcare to get mums out of the house, working mums will get payback as well in the system. But those mums who stay at home and choose to stay at home and look after the kids, they’re going to lose out?
PYNE: Well Karl, wait and see. Every Budget has a surprise. I’m sure this Budget will have a surprise. So wait and see about that side of the equation, but I can tell you certainly that the childcare reforms that the Productivity Commission handed down – a report about childcare a few months ago – Scott Morrison has been beavering away making sure that we can have a good announcement in the budget that will support Australian families, support productivity and support participation.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, quickly on that one Anthony?
ALBANESE: Childcare is one of the issues that have been the subject of cuts through the previous actions of this Federal Government. One hopes that any changes are fair. We do want to encourage people back into the workforce. Childcare is absolutely critical for working parents, and so we’ll judge any proposals on whether they are fair as well as whether they achieve the objective of encouraging people back into work.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, when you see the details we’ll talk more about that obviously. On to the executions this week, very sad news obviously, across the board. But Indonesia doesn’t seem too bothered or concerned about Australia’s decision to withdraw our Ambassador. Chris, your thoughts?
PYNE: I think they are concerned because it’s a very important step and withdrawing an Ambassador sends a very strong message to Indonesia in diplomatic language. It’s one of the strongest actions we can take. In fact Bill Shorten himself has said that he thinks the Government has handled this matter as well as can possibly be expected in the circumstances. The Indonesian Ambassador is talking soothingly today about the need to make sure our bilateral relationship is a strong one and gets back on an even keel. That is important, obviously the whole country is in shock that these two men have been executed, but there is a wider issue, and the wider issue is a strong bilateral relationship with Indonesia. We have done the things that are necessary and important to express our dismay. I’m pleased to see the Indonesian Ambassador talking this morning about the importance of the relationship.
STEFANOVIC: That’s all well and good after the fact. As you know, whether we like it or not Indonesia choose to ignore us, and more pointedly you as a government. Even after the lads were executed they didn’t tell us what had happened. Was it arrogance or incompetence?
PYNE: The Indonesian President made the decision to execute the Bali two, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, that’s the Indonesian law and Australians who travel overseas need to make sure that they maintain all the laws of the countries into which they go. Now I’m opposed to the death penalty. The Australian Government is opposed to the death penalty as is Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party. But at the of end of the day this was a decision of the Indonesian President, we couldn’t have been more clear in our –
STEFANOVIC: – Christopher, with respect, how good is a relationship when they don’t even bother to ring you and tell you that the executions have taken place? It’s not a great relationship.
PYNE: Well obviously this matter has not been one that has pleased the Australian Government. We have expressed real disappointment to the Indonesian Government throughout the entire process. That’s part of the continuing disappointment that we have had with this matter, we didn’t want Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran executed, we wanted them to come home to Australia and do a prisoner swap. We tried everything we could to get them back to this country. At the end the day the Indonesians have made several mistakes along the way. But now we have to continue with a strong relationship with Indonesia for a whole host of reasons.
STEFANOVIC: In relation to Bill Shorten, his stance, he says he wants that he wants strong retaliation for all this. And then Bob Carr came out and said removing the Ambassador was going too far, so where does Labor stand on all of that?
ALBANESE: It is critical that there be bipartisanship on this issue. I think the Parliament was at its best when we stood as one in opposition to the death penalty. That was the Parliament at its finest. What we have seen from the Indonesian government unfortunately, is not government at its finest, far from it. It is hard to see how anything was achieved from the death of not just these two young men, but the six other people who were executed as well. Yes, they committed a crime. They should have remained in jail for that crime, but I do not support the death penalty nor does any other Australian Parliamentarian.
STEFANOVIC: Finally, quickly as we are out of time but Tanya Plibersek took over for Bill Shorten for a short time this week, were you surprised or disappointed by her comments on gay marriage?
ALBANESE: No, she is entitled to put forward views. We’ll have a debate in the lead up to the National Conference. There are two issues here. One is the issue of principle. Do you support marriage equality or not? I certainly do, and have campaigned for it strongly. The second issue is how should that best be resolved. I’ll talk with Tanya and others about what the strategic point –
STEFANOVIC: – You were that surprised she came out and said that as Acting Leader?
ALBANESE: In terms of vote a conscience vote, a conscience vote has been seen up to this point, I think, as being the best way of getting it through this Parliament.
STEFANOVIC: So you were surprised?
ALBANESE: I was not aware of it Karl, it didn’t make news in South America, I’ll let you in on that.
STEFANOVIC: What about in Australia?
ALBANESE: I wasn’t here – so I could get away from Australian political news, Karl, and have a proper break with my family.
STEFANOVIC: And you deserved it too. Thank you very much for being with us. Christopher, make sure you’re back good in the studio next week too.
PYNE: Indeed. Good to see you.
STEFANOVIC: You too mate.
ALBANESE: See you Christopher.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.