SUBJECTS: PM’s campaign in Western Sydney
Presenter:…Christopher Pyne in our Adelaide studios
Hon Christopher Pyne MP: Good morning.
Presenter: And Mark Butler Labor MP for Port Adelaide and Minister for Mental Health and Ageing and Social inclusion, Mark Butler, Minister welcome to our studios as well.
Mark Butler: Good Morning good to be here.
Presenter: To the two of you, the Rooty Hill experiment, Mark Butler, not to put too fine a point on it. Is this a sign of a Party that thinks it’s rooted?
Butler: There are so many different sort of double entendres you can do with this place. I stay at the Penrith Panthers when I’m in Western Sydney cause I’m not sure I could check into the Rooty Hill RSL with a straight face. It just conjures up all these sort of Carry on films and Benny Hill episodes and Carry On Governing filmed at the Rooty Hill RSL.
Presenter: Which by the way is apparently very up-market. It has about seven restaurants and they have Alaskan Crab on there and all sort of gear.
Pyne: Alaskan Crab! Where do they get that from, Alaska I assume, fly it in for the Prime Minister.
Butler: Gee you’re sharp
Pyne: Yeah, maybe it’s a new menu for the Prime Minister.
Presenter: What aren’t the people of the western suburbs allowed to enjoy good food Chris Pyne.
Pyne: Well, it’s extraordinary, I’ve never even heard of Alaskan Salmon or whatever it’s called.
Presenter: Sorry Mark Butler you were saying…
Butler: I can’t remember what I, I think I was alluding to Carry On films.
Presenter: Well you were. Jump in.
Butler: I don’t think this is unusual at all. I mean I don’t think people expect their Prime Minister, whether it’s a Liberal or a Labor Prime Minister to spend their time hauled up in Canberra reading papers. I mean there is naturally Cabinet meetings every week and there are parliamentary sitting weeks for half of the year or there about and there is the sort of slog work that you do as a member of a Government either a Minister or Prime Minister. But people expect you to be out talking to people in different parts of the country. The Prime Minister was here in Adelaide for a couple of days last week and she’ll be in Western Sydney next week. I mean this is a big community about twice the size of Adelaide, 2.2 million people, a tenth of the population of Australia, Tony Abbott’s there all the time. Prime, anyone who wanted to be Prime Minister would visit Brisbane regularly, Western Sydney regularly, Perth regularly.
Presenter: So Chris Pyne, what is your view of this? Are you a little bit worried that the PM is going to the Western suburbs?
Pyne: Well we’re not worried about it because what it means is that the Prime Minister is sandbagging 12 per cent margin Labor seats. If anybody should be worried about it would be the Labor Party. The Rooty Hill RSL is 45 minutes drive from Kirribilli House. Now it took me about 35 minutes to drive here today from Wattle Park so you’d think that it’s quite obviously a stunt on behalf of the Prime Minister. It’s nice that she’s discovered that Western Australia counts.
Presenter: Western Sydney I imagine you mean.
Pyne: Sorry, Western Sydney counts, but the truth is it’s all very late in the piece. It smells to me like the campaign in 2010 when we had the declaration that we were going to see ‘Real Julia’ rather than fake Julia now we’ve got Governing days and Campaigning days , people will remember ‘Moving Forward’ was a slogan at one stage now we have ‘Modern Families’.
Presenter: The Prime Minister did say you would know the days that were governing days and the days that were campaigning days, when she announced the election date.
Pyne: It all sounds a bit trite to me and I think the people of Western Sydney will be delighted, I assume, that the Prime Minister now recognises that their votes count. I think it’s a bit like, I think it’s a bit late for her to be discovering Western Sydney.
Presenter: But is it a problem for the Coalition that essentially your agenda is a negative one. That is stop the boats..
Presenter: … stop the Labor … the Carbon Tax and stop the mining tax. It’s a negative agenda.
Pyne: No, it’s not a negative agenda, in fact, quite the opposite. It’s about reducing cost of living by getting rid of the carbon tax. It’s about protecting people’s job security by abolishing the mining tax and the carbon tax. It’s about getting the economy back under control by living within our means and it’s about protecting our borders through strong border protection. They’re the issues that people in Western Sydney care about.
Presenter: Mark Butler, whether it’s negative or positive, it’s an agenda that’s working. What are you going to do to turn this around?
Butler: Well, as I think we talked about last week, I think we’ve been shown to be competitive when we talk about policies that matter to people out in the community rather than focussing on ourselves and I was pretty frank last week when I said I think we have focussed too much on ourselves. We have allowed too many people to talk to the media about internal matters of the ALP rather than things that matter to pensioners and to families and to people out in the community. I think if we get back focussed on that, we can be competitive. We’ve shown that.
Presenter: So when you are out campaigning, you have being doing a bit of that lately – we can see that from your tweets – what are you saying that is resonating with people, that you think “Ah! I’m bringing them back on this one”. What is it? What’s the message?
Butler: Well, most of work I do out in the community is associated with my portfolios of ageing, and mental health and more recently over the last few weeks, housing and homelessness which have been added to my portfolios so you know, I’ve met with a couple of organisations this week about the way in which the National Disability Insurance Scheme is going to impact on ageing and on mental health and people are really interested in that. They don’t ask me about Leadership issues or things like that. They want to know about what the design of the NDIS is going to look like. Yesterday I was at an engineering firm with Steve Georganis and Greg Combet, in my electorate. A very big engineering firm delivering supplies to the air warfare destroyer to renewable energy projects. They want to talk about the jobs plan we announced. This is … I think this idea that you are either governing or campaigning and it’s a black and white distinction.
Presenter: You’re always …
Pyne: That’s what the Prime Minister said.
Butler: As part of governing, you’ve got to be out there talking to people about policies. That’s how you develop good policies and how you make sure that they’re best directed to achieve the objectives you want to achieve.
Pyne: That was the Prime Minister that said that you’d know the days that we’re governing and the days that we’re campaigning. So the Prime Minister’s created this false dichotomy again, in the same way she did create “real Julia” and “fake Julia”. Now, if the Prime Minister would simply focus on good government and good policy rather than fighting off Kevin Rudd all the time and looking so inwardly focussed, I think the public would be relieved and she wouldn’t need to go to have this stunt where she spend days in Rooty Hill which is 45 minutes drive from where she usually sleeps.
Butler: No the point I was making though is that this argument – the moment you step out of Canberra, you are campaigning is a false idea. I mean …
Presenter: But should the tax payers be paying the accommodation bills in Rooty Hill? If it’s a campaign matter?
Butler: I don’t think it is. To say that every time you step out of your formal setting as a Prime Minister or Minister you’re campaigning is I think a false idea. I mean, I’ve spent the last two and half years travelling the country talking to older Australians about aged care needs, talking to people about mental health needs. That is part of the job of a Minister, it’s not necessarily campaigning.
Presenter: Mark Butler, thank you for coming in to the studios, this morning. Labor MP for Port Adelaide, Minister for Mental Health. Christopher Pyne Liberal MP for Sturt, Manager of Opposition Business in the House and Shadow Minister for Education thank you for coming in to our studios.