SUBJECTS: Julia Gillard’s speech to the NSW Labor conference; Community worker pay rise; next election
Christopher Pyne: If the Prime Minister’s speech last year to the ALP National Conference will be remembered as the “we are us” speech, this will be remembered as the speech of “great nothingness”. It was a speech that contained nothing of any substance. It was drivel and unfortunately the Australian people would have been expecting a great deal better. When the Australian people are struggling with cost of living pressures, dealing with the carbon tax, concerned about our open border policy the Government is presiding over, they expect a lot more from the Prime Minister than reminding the party faithful that Labor is a cause, not a brand. I think when you get to the point that you have to remind your colleagues they’re not a brand then you are in deep political trouble.
The Prime Minister managed to avoid the one subject that everyone else has been talking about for the last week. Even Tony Burke joined the conga line of Ministers heaping abuse on the Greens this morning on television and yet the Prime Minister managed to get through an entire address without dealing with the issue of the Labor Party’s relationship with the Greens. The Prime Minister can’t have it both ways. She can’t be in alliance with the Greens in Canberra and breaking with the Greens everywhere else. The public have a right to know where the Prime Minister stands on the issue of the alliance with the Greens. They have a right to know where she stands on the issue of the preferences with the Labor Party and the Greens at the next election.
She entirely failed the leadership test today. She squibbed it. She had a choice; she could either stand up for the Labor movement or stand with the Greens. She chose to do neither. She isn’t a leader’s bootlace. That is why half a dozen of her senior colleagues think they would do a better job than she would and is it any wonder given today’s speech to the ALP Conference, which completely failed to address the issue that everyone in the Labor Party wants to know about and that is – will they be continuing their close relationship with the Greens or will they be breaking with the Greens? I think the answer is the Prime Minister has so little authority she was incapable of answering that question today.
Pyne: Look, this Prime Minister has a habit of running a million miles from the key issues the public want to know about. When there is a crisis in the Labor party, this Prime Minister disappears. As John Faulkner said to the Labor Party conference, at a time when the public want to know about Labor’s views on things like the cost of living, electricity prices, border protection, they are mired in a controversy about their relationship with the Greens, and their Leader is incapable of addressing it. This isn’t the first time Julia Gillard has run a million miles from the key issue of the day.
Pyne: Look the next election will be a referendum on the carbon tax. I think everybody in the Australian public knows that. The issue about industrial relations was an election fought five years ago. The public are not concerned about industrial relations; they are concerned about cost of living pressures, about electricity prices and about open borders. The next election will be a referendum on the carbon tax and it will be an election on who is best to defend our borders from what currently is a deluge of asylum seekers.
Journalist: So you’re not concerned with a battle on industrial relations come the next election?
Pyne: No not at all, the Prime Minister can if she wishes try and make the next election about every other subject other than the cost of living, carbon tax and open borders, but as a local Member of Parliament, I can tell you travelling around my electorate, they are the issues people are interested in and the Prime Minister needs to address those issues.
Pyne: Well the Liberal Party has a record of putting the Greens after Labor on our how to vote cards. We have done it in Victoria, we have done it in New South Wales and Labor on the other hand automatically preferences the Greens ahead of the Liberal Party. We’ll make a decision about our preferences at the next election. It is Labor that have put the issue of Greens preferences on the agenda, it’s Labor that have been debating it all week. Paul Howes, Joel Fitzgibbon, Tony Burke amongst others, yet the Prime Minister is incapable of addressing this today because she is incapable of showing any leadership. That is why the Labor Party are facing political oblivion.
Pyne: I believe Labor will preference the Greens at the next election ahead of the Liberal Party, in the way they’ve always done… The motion that they passed yesterday was not a motion to put the Greens last on their how to vote cards, it was simply a motion that they shouldn’t automatically be placed ahead of the Liberal Party, so it was a watered down, faceless men deal like all the other deals that Labor always does. The Coalition is the only party with any history of putting the Greens after the Labor Party, but again, we are not the issue here, the issue is the Prime Minister’s inability to show any leadership, which is exactly why six of her colleagues think they’d do a better job than she is doing.
Pyne: No, the Liberal Party has supported extra salary for community welfare workers.
Pyne: Well I’m not responsible for the state Liberal governments; they are decisions for the state Liberal Governments and state Labor governments to make. The federal Liberal Party has supported higher salaries and contributions made by the Federal Government for community welfare workers.
Pyne: Well the next election is not due for twelve months – I think the point I was trying to make was that the Liberal Party isn’t the issue about Greens preferences, the Labor Party put that issue on the agenda because they’re having a confected stoush with the Greens and the proof of that is the Prime Minister couldn’t even bring herself to comment on it today, because she doesn’t want to put her alliance with the Greens at any risk. She’d rather be friends with the Greens in Canberra and allow her henchman and faceless men to attack the Greens everywhere else and if I was the Greens I wouldn’t put up with it.
Journalist: Warren Truss has come out and said the Coalition shouldn’t take winning the next election for granted.
Journalist: Do you believe there is still work to be done?
Pyne: Of course, it would be mad for the Coalition to assume victory at the next election, every election can be won or lost and we are doing everything in our power to ensure that we have the confidence of the Australian people on Election Day. The poll that matters is the poll on Election Day and we won’t stop the pressure on a bad Government until we have had that election and we will hopefully, if the public give us the opportunity, perform a lot better in Government than this terrible Government.