Subjects; Citizenship; marriage equality; Newspoll; foreign donations.
OLIVER PETERSEN: One very senior Liberal Cabinet Minister, the other part of the set-up of course of the Opposition frontbench, who has been a Cabinet Minister in the past. Christopher Pyne, first to you. Good afternoon. Welcome to Perth Live.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good afternoon. It is marvellous to be with you for the first time in a coupling with Anthony Albanese in Western Australia.
PETERSEN: And Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for making sure that we got the two of you together – The Odd Couple once again.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Absolutely. I look forward to continuing to have these discussions next year.
PETERSEN: Indeed we do. Let’s start first of all with the citizenship declarations that have been made today. And I will ask you first Anthony Albanese, David Feeney has become the first Labor MP who has says he is prepared to refer himself to the High Court. Now, should the others do the same?
ALBANESE: David Feeney has said that he is prepared to do that in terms of if there is a doubt, if he can’t find some of the documentation or the evidence of it by Thursday then he would be prepared to do that.
I haven’t had the opportunity to examine all of the documents obviously that have been put in place just this morning, but it’s clear that there are some issues from people across the Parliament and no doubt the Parliament will be considering this once we get through the marriage equality issue in the next couple of days.
PETERSEN: OK. Does this put egg on the face of Bill Shorten and Labor, because he certainly and constantly said that all Labor MPs had crossed their t’s and dotted their i’s on the citizenship issue?
ALBANESE: Not at all. What we have argued for very clearly is for transparency and for the process that is happening. We argued that this should happen from the very beginning.
It has been difficult clearly for some people who have just said, my understanding is, some people have said from Christopher’s side of politics, that we have renounced our foreign citizenship but haven’t been in a position to produce any documentation.
So I think there is a need to look at this objectively. Where there is genuine doubt as to eligibility then of course people should be referred.
PETERSEN: Okay. Christopher Pyne, we also saw here on our home front West Australian Labor MP Josh Wilson might have a few questions around his citizenship. How do you view the way that Labor has handled the declaration process?
PYNE: Well there are a few grey areas. There’s no doubt about that and between now and Thursday they’ll be considered.
But there’s no grey areas when it comes to David Feeney, your own Josh Wilson from Fremantle, Justine Keay, who is a Labor MP from Tasmania and Susan Lamb, who is a Labor MP from Queensland.
So there are four Labor MPs, all of whom were citizens of another country when they nominated for the 2016 federal election.
Bill Shorten has been harbouring these people for the last six months. We did the right thing. Barnaby Joyce has had a by-election and been spectacularly re-elected in the best result since 1911 for a Government.
John Alexander is currently involved in a by-election in Bennelong. He resigned. He did the right thing. I think Bill Shorten thought he could skate under the radar and nobody would notice that these people had this problem.
He has been shouting from the rooftops like an angry rooster every morning about the failures of the Government but in fact it has turned out he has got quite a canker in his own side with these four MPs all of whom are London to a brick heading for by-elections.
PETERSEN: Yeah, well the reset button Barnaby Joyce, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as well said was set on the weekend with Barnaby Joyce’s by-election.
Do you feel that the mood is changing there in Canberra, both Anthony Albanese and Christopher? Do you think that the Government is starting to get the upper hand?
ALBANESE: The fact is that the polls showed this week a 53-47 lead for Labor. It does say something that the Coalition was celebrating getting to 47 per cent of the two-party preferred vote.
PYNE: We’ve had a bit of a messy month and the Labor Party …
ALBANESE: You’ve had a messy term.
PYNE: The Labor Party should be miles ahead and yet we gained two points two-party preferred in the Newspoll and Malcolm pulled further ahead of Bill Shorten as the preferred PM. The truth is, as we all know it, and as your listeners know it, Bill Shorten is toxic in the electorate.
PETERSEN: Interesting you say that Christopher Pyne because if you look at the Ipsos poll yesterday it does indicate that on the two-party preferred question here in Western Australia, it is actually the Coalition that leads Labor 57-43.
When we polled Perth Live listeners here yesterday on 6PR, on our talk-back number, 92211882, eighty-two per cent of 6PR listeners said they would prefer to vote for Malcolm Turnbull over Bill Shorten.
So there certainly is a problem in Western Australia, Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese that Labor in particular is not cutting through here in WA at a federal level.
PYNE: Bill is about as popular as a pork chop in a synagogue and Anthony Albanese quite frankly is going to be the big winner from that and it is not going to last on the Labor side. They’ve got real problems with Bill Shorten because people just don’t trust him. They think he is shifty.
ALBANESE: Well it’s very brave of Christopher, with respect here. He has raised the issue of synagogues. I mean, talk about chutzpah. You have Coalition chaos here. You’ve got people openly defying the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
You’ve had the New South Wales Deputy Premier call for him to go and give Australia a Christmas present. You’ve got absolute chaos on their side.
We can never take WA for granted. WA historically has been very difficult terrain for Federal Labor, particularly since Kim Beazley left the leadership.
That’s why I am a regular visitor to WA. That’s why I was very pleased to be able to get a regular spot on your program.
PETERSEN: Well I was too, Albo and it was great to see you here standing here opposite us a few weeks ago.
ALBANESE: I’ll be back there in January.
PYNE: Albo thinks WA is difficult, I think it is quite nice.
ALBANESE: I think it is lovely.
PYNE: I quite like it.
ALBANESE: Well, you should visit it more. Malcolm Turnbull should visit it.
PYNE: I do.
ALBANESE: During the last campaign he dropped in for about five minutes.
PYNE: You should go down to Henderson where we are building all these ships. You’ll find I am actualy quite popular down in Henderson.
PETERSEN: You would be, Christopher Pyne, if you –
ALBANESE: Well you’ve got to be popular somewhere, Christopher. You know the chances are if you pick random areas there has got to be somewhere in Australia, in our vast country you’re popular.
PETERSEN: Now, gentlemen let me ask you this afternoon as well, foreign donations will be banned by the Prime Minister and I see he used Question Time today to attack Anthony Albanese. Your colleague Sam Dastyari saying that he sold Australia out. Should Sam Dastyari resign?
ALBANESE: No, he shouldn’t. He should resign from the positions that he’s held and we should ban foreign donations.
That’s been Labor’s position for some time and we shouldn’t have people from overseas political organisations donating – essentially trying to influence Australian political parties. That’s my view. It’s the Labor Party’s view, and I’m pleased that the Government has now come on board.
PYNE: If you look at the register of foreign donations, of donations to political parties, Labor has had twice as many foreign donations in terms of value than the Liberal Party in the last election. So if any political party is getting foreign donations, it’s the Labor Party.
So we are banning foreign donations. Labor had a completely inadequate bill. We have we have fixed it and put in a real regime around foreign donations and goodness knows who is going to pay the Labor Party .
ALBANESE: You haven’t even introduced the legislation yet.
PYNE: Who is going to pay the Labor Party’s personal accounts now because that’s what Sam Dastyari had donors doing in NSW before he resigned for the first time.
The only way that Bill Shorten can prove that he is not in hock to foreign donors is to say to Sam Dastyari you can’t sit in the Labor Caucus and until he does that he’s not really serious about foreign donations just the same as he’s not serious about getting the union movement like the CMFEU out of politics.
PETERSEN: The same sex marriage debate is obviously on in the House of Representatives. Christopher Pyne, I see that you just spoke to it a short time ago.
Will any of the amendments that are being moved by some of your colleagues in regards to religious freedoms have any chance of passing the lower house of the Parliament?
PYNE: Well that’ll be a matter for whether the people who are opposing the amendments can gather the numbers on a private member’s bill which is a conscience vote on our side of the House to actually agree to those amendments.
I’ve just spoken in the House of Representatives. I made it clear and I think the protections in the bill as they stand now for religious ministers for Defence pastors, for religious institutions are quite adequate. I don’t believe in putting superfluous amendments into a bill.
I think the bill should reflect what they need to reflect and they shouldn’t be based on what I think is a misnomer that somehow religious freedoms are not protected in Australia. We have other laws in place to protect religious freedom.
We don’t need to put those in this bill and I won’t be voting for any amendments to this bill. I’m quite satisfied that the the protections that came down to us from the Senate in the bill will do the trick in protecting the religious freedoms in this country that we’ve cherished since Federation.
PETERSEN: I see Fairfax is reporting this afternoon that with your statement today it does appear as though the numbers are there to block any of these changes so the bill should go through the lower House as it is proposed by obviously Senator Dean Smith.
ALBANESE: I hope that that is the case. This is an area where Christopher I agree and it is very clear that.
PYNE: We both agree on Bill Shorten too I’m sure you know.
ALBANESE: I voted for Bill Shorten as Prime Minister. You voted for Malcolm Turnbull.
PYNE: That’s true.
ALBANESE: But with regard to this issue, it’s important that people know that the Dean Smith bill, of course a WA senator, went through a whole process in the Senate, so already compromise has occurred. The protections were included in the bill. Indeed the title of the bill is about marriage and religious protections.
Because of that I think Christopher’s quite right and I’ll also be opposing amendments – both sides. All sides of Parliament have a conscience vote on these issues.
But I think Dean Smith deserves a great deal of congratulations for getting this right and I think once this occurs as well people will really wonder what the fuss was about because for most of your listeners it will have no impact of course on their lives, on their marriage, on their relationships, on their family.
All it will do is just give some people who currently don’t enjoy what myself and Christopher did with our respective wives, Carmel and Caroline, the opportunity to celebrate that relationship in front of their family and friends.
One of the things that will happen – I’ll put my Tourism Shadow Minister hat on here – this is a huge boon for the economy. There will be a big economic boost for Australia as an international destination.
So I would hope that WA will certainly get more than their fair share of that because it is such a fantastic tourist destination. We’ll see people coming.
PYNE: Anthony and I love a wedding. It’s the only place that my children are prepared to allow me to dance on the dance floor. Anywhere else would be completely unacceptable.
ALBANESE: I was MC at a wedding a couple of weeks ago and it was fantastic.
PYNE: You would have been boogieing the night away.
PETERSEN: Were you DJ as well?
PYNE: Anthony loves the DJing.
ALBANESE: I did a whole range of things as well. It was actually for someone who Christopher knows, Alan Griffin who was a minister.
PYNE: I thought he married again. Yes.
ALBANESE: Married just a week ago and it was a fantastic celebration. I mean it really is an occasion when people come together and just are able to celebrate essentially a couples relationship but also you run into people who you – this wedding was in Melbourne I ran into people I hadn’t seen for years. It’s a great thing.
PETERSEN: It certainly is. Anthony Albanese, Christopher Pyne we will wrap up our first edition of The Odd Couple here on Perth Live on 6PR.
PYNE: Great to be with you.
ALBANESE: Thanks for having us.
PETERSEN: There you go. Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne on 882 6PR.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.