SUBJECTS: Confidence in the Government; Labor leadership
JON FAINE: Christopher Pyne is Tony Abbott’s Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives he is also shadow Minister for Eduction, Mr Pyne good morning to you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Jon.
JON FAINE: There are many lines that get crossed in politics all the time, neither Mr Slipper nor Mr Thomson have been charge or convicted of anything.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Julia Gillard is talking about an imaginary line Jon, but no one can quite work out what line in particular has been crossed over the weekend. I think probably the truth is that she returned overseas and was told by the faceless men of the Labor Party that her time was up and this is her desperate attempt to cling on to power while Bill Shorten and Kevin Rudd circle her like two vultures.
JON FAINE: Well whether or not there is leadership speculation either way, going back to the original question, in government John Howard faced similar problems, any government with embarrassing problems has to deal with them as best it sees fit, does it not? This is the process that has got to be followed.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Sure and three years later Julia Gillard has done what the Opposition has been calling for 3 years which is; disown Craig Thomson but she won’t disown his vote, so in fact she’s putting David Copperfield to shame with her magicians trick because essentially while Craig Thomson will be sitting on the crossbenches he’ll continue voting with the Labor Party; so Julia Gillard is no worse off in the Chamber than she was last Friday.
JON FAINE: So you’re saying this is only about how things look rather than how they are? But isn’t that the art of politics, this is a Government that hangs by a fragile thread if Tony Abbott had of done a deal he would have been in a similar position, you do what you need to, to stay in power.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Tony Abbott wasn’t prepared to do what Julia Gillard was prepared to do which was to sell her soul to Bob Brown and the Greens for a deal and to make a special arrangement with each of the crossbenchers to secure their power and my how the country has suffered as a consequence. The last 18 months have been amongst the worst in the history of Australia in terms of the confidence of the Parliament and in the confidence of its government. It reached it’s nadir with the appointment of Peter Slipper as Speaker, a Coalition Member she suborned from the Coalition to the Speakership over the top of Harry Jenkins in order to shore up her numbers and the chickens have very much come home to roost.
JON FAINE: Well insofar as the chickens or eggs, if you nailed down what actually matters the Government still commands the support of the majority on the floor of the House of Representatives, it can survive a vote of no-confidence and has a budget coming through which is guaranteed to go through; the Government is and will still be the Government
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: What really matter Jon is the confidence the public has in their Government and how it affects the business community, employment, inflation, interest rates, cost of living and so on and this Government this Parliament has done a great deal of damage to the confidence of the Australian people and confidence in the Australian economy; that is the real rest on whether the Government is harming the nation, sure they are clinging to power with various backroom deals one after the other in their desperate bid to keep their sorry hide on the Government benches; but in terms of what is good for the Australian public a Government mandate to get on and govern is what the public are demanding and need and that requires an election and the Prime Minister should do the right thing and call one.
JON FAINE: This is really Julia Gillard’s actions yesterday, ring-fencing the problem, quarantining it and trying to get on with the business of running the country as you say, if indeed you’re concerned about confidence, you’re concerned about running the country then shouldn’t you let the Government have some clear air?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well it’s the Opposition’s responsibility to hold the Government to account, it’s our responsibility.
JON FAINE: But it’s how you do that Mr Pyne?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well we show up a bad Government making bad decisions about the Australian Network tender as just one example where people will believe in fact the Government could be accused of corruption for the way they have handled the Australian Network tender, that’s just one example of how the Opposition needs to hold the Government to account. The Government also promised it wouldn’t introduce the carbon tax, the Prime Minister said there would be no carbon tax under a Government I lead; she’s now introduced a carbon tax so it’s the Opposition’s job to hold her to account; we are doing our job and some would say we’re doing it quite effectively.
JON FAINE: Alright well here we are we’re waiting the next session of Parliament which is the budget section, what’s the strategy, what are the tactics for that?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well we’ll continue to put our best foot forward to hold the Government to account, to show that there is at least an adult in the room that is capable of governing, with a group of people who are united behind their leader; all that stands in stark contrast to the Labor where Bill Shorten and Kevin Rudd are manoeuvring for the Leadership while the Prime Minister is drawing imaginary lines saying they’ve been crossed, when everyone’s known for some time that Craig Thomson should not be a part of the Labor Party Caucus and they shouldn’t be accepting his vote and of course the Government should of never have done this backroom deal with Peter Slipper to make him Speaker over the top of a good and honourable Speaker in Harry Jenkins.
JON FAINE: Well we shall see whether or not your in fact your predictions bear fruit, it may be that the inquiries Messrs Thomson and Slipper bare no fruit and all of this turns out to be like Godwin Gretch; a dreadful tactical error the Opposition regret.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well we can only hope that the gentlemen are cleared of the allegations that are made against them because they’re very serious allegations, my hope is that they are able to be cleared and get on with their lives but I’m not confident in the case of Craig Thomson at least; there’s so many reports about to be released by Fair Work Australia, the Victorian and NSW Police investigations will soon be completed, it will all end..
JON FAINE: Time will tell, undoubtedly talk back will as well. As always Mr Pyne thank you for your time.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It’s a pleasure, thank you Jon.