Sunday 10 February 2019
SUBJECTS: Banking Royal Commission;Border Protection; Climate Change and Energy Policy
BARRIE CASSIDY: The Leader of Government Business in the House and the Defence Minister Christopher Pyne, I spoke with him just an hour ago.
Christopher Pyne, good morning, welcome to the programme.
MINISTER PYNE: Good morning Barrie, good to be with you again.
BARRIE CASSIDY: Are you open to the idea of extending the sittings of the parliament so that you can deal with the findings of the Royal Commission into the banks?
MINISTER PYNE: No we won’t be doing that Barrie, and we won’t be doing it for a very simple reason. To change the laws around financial services and respond to the banking royal commission in the way that we wish to, will take about forty different pieces of legislation, so trying to do that in a rushed job to fulfil a political stunt that the Labor party is trying to pull is no way to govern and what we’ve tried to do in the last five years of course, is to be sensible and methodical about the way we govern and that’s what we’ve done. So no we won’t be calling the parliament back for another two weeks of feverish, rushed, lawmaking for something that’s far too important for political stunts.
BARRIE CASSIDY: But why is it, but why is it, putting before the parliament, why is that rushing it?
MINISTER PYNE: Because it will take time to draft those forty pieces of legislation, to get them right and so many times over the years we’ve seen legislation introduced into the parliament to try and fulfil a, unnecessary schedule, delay- requirement that’s apparently been set by someone and then only a few months later, having to come back to fix that legislation because we got it wrong, so we’re not prepared to do that, we want this to be a proper response we’ve said that we will take action on all seventy-six of the recommendations of the Royal Commission, we will tread carefully on mortgage brokers because we don’t want to smash competition in the banking sector, ironically Labor is taking the side of the big banks by removing competition of the sixteen thousand mortgage brokers. We won’t be doing that, we’ll be trading more carefully and this is exactly why we won’t be rushing legislation into the parliament for a feverish two week sitting just to please Bill Shorten and the Labor Party.
BARRIE CASSIDY: So there won’t be any response in the Parliament for at least six months, maybe August/September?
MINISTER PYNE: Quite possibly, it’ll be after the election, yes.
BARRIE CASSIDY: And, what do you say to the customers who, they saw the Government reject this twenty-six times, and now you’ve got the recommendations in front of them, no action for seven or eight months?
MINISTER PYNE: Well, we are taking action and that’s exactly what we’ve done. We've said that we will go back ten years and allow consumers to, to go through AFCA, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority and to give them the support that they need to be compensated for bad treatment by the banks, we’ve given the federal court more power to act against those who’ve done the wrong thing in the banking sector, that will all happen and we’ve also done a great deal already in the last few years, much more than the Labor party ever did when Bill Shorten was the Minister for Financial Services in the previous government, and there’s legislation sitting in the Senate right now that the Labor party could vote for to reform superannuation, to support consumers and introduce regulations that’ll protect the sector, and yet Labor’s not voting for that because they’re conflicted by their union dominated industry super funds.
BARRIE CASSIDY: On the Medivac bill, um it does seem as if the Government has all but conceded defeat, the Prime Minister said that if Labor supports it then it is likely to pass. You setting yourself for that? For a loss on the floor of the parliament?
MINISTER PYNE: Well Barrie, the Labor Party lost sixty-four votes on the floor of the parliament in the 43rd Parliament which was the last time there was a minority government, sixty-four votes. It really is not the biggest deal in the world that some people in the media are making it out to be, and if Bill Shorten wants to turn the green light on for people smugglers, wants to roll out the welcome mat for the people smuggling trade yet again like they did last time they were in government, well that will be on his head. And if any boat arrives, between now and election day, we’ll be able to say, that’s here because of Shorten’s law. If Bill Shorten wants to pass this legislation, Shorten’s law will weaken border protection in Australia, there’ll be more people smuggling boats arriving, we’ll have to re-open Christmas Island, that’ll cost $1.4 Billion dollars to do so it’s back to those hideous days where there were 50 000 unauthorised arrivals on 800 boats, and at least 1200 deaths at sea, that’s Labor’s policy and they want to re-implement it and if they vote that way this week, that'll be the second time they’ve tried to dismantle our border protection laws, the first of course being the abolition of temporary protection visas.
BARRIE CASSIDY: Alright well let’s have a look at some of what you’ve just said, if this bill passes, and you’ve said that it would virtually open the flood gates, the Minister yesterday said it would mean substantially all of one thousand people on Manus Island and Nauru will come to Australia, how is that? Why would almost all of them come to Australia simply because of ill health?
MINISTER PYNE: Well because two doctors in Australia would be able, maybe Bob Brown and Richard Di Natale, could sign a certificate saying that they think they’re suffering from mental health issues and they need to come to Australia-
BARRIE CASSIDY: [interjecting] but you know that's not true, it’s the two doctors do not determine this, they can put the name up but then the Minister can reject that, then it goes to a full advisory panel, appointed by the way by the Government, by Border Force.
MINISTER PYNE: And then it goes right through the appeal process, back into the administrative appeals tribunal, the federal court, this is exactly the model Labor set up last time they were in power and that’s why we were spending millions and millions of dollars paying people’s legal fees, to take the government on to appeal the Minister’s decisions.
BARRIE CASSIDY: But you’re saying then that almost all of the thousand people involved would end up in Australia because this advisory panel appointed by the government would find that they’re all ill?
MINISTER PYNE: What they’ll find is that they’ll be able to appeal the Minister’s use of his discretion, Labor knows that, they’ll all be caught up in the courts system, they’ll be coming to Australia one way or the other saying that they have a need to because of ill health, and quite frankly there are now most, there’s nobody in Manus Island, Manus Island doesn’t actually operate anymore as a detention centre, it’s been closed down, those people are in the community. There’s nobody in detention on Nauru, they are all part of the community and there are no children left on Nauru, and the last few have got a process to come to Australia, the last four-
BARRIE CASSIDY: [interjecting] But that’s not relevant to what we’re talking about at the moment, how is it that almost all of them, would qualify to be in Australia on the grounds of ill health?
MINISTER PYNE: Well they could all qualify, and the bottom line is that-
BARRIE CASSIDY: [interjecting] They’re all ill? You’re suggesting that they’re almost all of them are ill?
MINISTER PYNE: The bottom line is Barrie, we’re not prepared to weaken Border Protection -
BARRIE CASSIDY: [interjecting] That’s not the point -
MINISTER PYNE: It is the point.
BARRIE CASSIDY: Can you explain to me how it is that it’s got to the point that almost all of them are ill?
MINISTER PYNE: The point is Barrie, because of this Government’s policies we’ve stopped the boats, because of temporary protection visas, because of offshore processing, because of boat turn backs, we’ve had this debate before and there’ always people that want to weaken border protection, now it’s not easy being tough on borders, it’s not easy for governments to have to make these tough decisions and that’s why you need a Coalition Government doing it because if Labor’s in power, every time they’re in power they’re too weak to stop the boats coming to Australia.
BARRIE CASSIDY: Ok, this would come down in the end to an advisory panel, appointed by Border Force’s chief medical officer, are you saying they would game the system to the extent where they would allow a thousand people to qualify on medical grounds?
MINISTER PYNE: We’re saying the system that we’ve put in place has worked. It has worked. And the vast majority of Children are now out of detention -
BARRIE CASSIDY: [interjecting] -That is totally irrelevant to what this bill now says.
MINISTER PYNE: Well I’m not prepared to sit here and go through line by line through the bill, but I’ll tell you this much, the advice from security agencies, which we’ve declassified, is very clear. The advice from security agencies is this will weaken our border protection laws, it’ll lead to more people coming to Australia, we’ll have to re-open Christmas Island, at a cost of $1.4 Billion to take into account the number of people that’ll be brought to Australia, and we will lose control of offshore processing. That’s what happened last time under Labor and we’re not prepared to let it happen again.
BARRIE CASSIDY: You talk about that security advice, Peter Dutton said that it, that basically the security agencies said that if this bill was to pass, that would be a disaster. Was that your reading of it as well? It would be a disaster? Was that what the security agency said?
MINISTER PYNE: Well I think he was making the point that the advice from the security agencies is that it would reopen the people smuggling and he said it would be a disaster, and he’s quite right, it would be.
BARRIE CASSIDY: How, how was this classified information leaked in the first place? As Defence Minister does that concern you?
MINISTER PYNE: Well leaks always concern me Barrie, no doubt about it, and I don’t know how it got into the hands of The Australian, I just haven’t the faintest clue and that’s why the AFP are investigating it.
BARRIE CASSIDY: The only people at the meeting of course were the security agencies and government Ministers, that’s a fairly narrow field?
MINISTER PYNE: Well, as I said the AFP, well it’s actually quite a large number of people, it’s about thirty people, sit on the NSC, either as member of agencies, departments, or the government itself. And the AFP’s been asked where that might have come from and we’ve now declassified it to take the mystery out of it -
BARRIE CASSIDY: [interjecting] Yeah that’s interesting, how does that happen? Who classifies it in the first place and then who can declassify?
MINISTER PYNE: Well the Minister responsible I think, was the person who can either classify or declassify on the advice of his department.
BARRIE CASSIDY: It’s a loose arrangement, you have this classified stuff and then it leaks and you can just suddenly declassify it.
MINISTER PYNE: Well I think the assessment was made Barrie that it would be better for everyone to see what the advice was rather than to be second guessing it.
BARRIE CASSIDY: Alright, just one other issue before we go, on climate change, Tony Abbott said yesterday the government has a satisfactory climate change policy going into the next election, that’s not what Julie Bishop recently said in a speech in Hong Kong, where do you stand on this, do you think that you need more substance around climate change between now and the election?
MINISTER PYNE: Well we need to keep going with our three pronged strategy and that is essentially, trying to bring prices down for consumers for their energy bills, which we’ve done; ensuring that we are reducing our emissions into the atmosphere in order to fulfil our international obligations for which we are entirely committed; and making sure that the energy supply is secure. Now we are doing all those things through Snowy Hydro 2, through having an agnostic all-of-the-above approach to all kinds of energy transmission, and prices are coming down and that’s a fact.
BARRIE CASSIDY: There are some in the party though, surely you'd concede, who would like to see more substance put on the climate change policy between now and the election?
MINISTER PYNE: I think we have a very substantial policy as I’ve just outlined, and we’ve done a lot in the area of climate change in the last five years and that’s why we’ll meet our international targets, our Paris targets, Kyoto of course, we are getting on with the job and we are getting the outcomes. Now we’re not getting into the weeds of some of the hysteria in the debate but we are making sure that we are doing the policies that we promised to do and they are having the outcome that they intended. We’re fulfilling our international obligations, bringing down prices, and securing the energy supply.
BARRIE CASSIDY: Is Julie Bishop getting into the weeds of hysteria when she says that she would like to see bipartisan support with Labor on energy policy?
MINISTER PYNE: I don’t think she’s sounding in the least bit hysterical, she’s been part of the Government -
BARRIE CASSIDY: [interjecting] It’s a good idea? That would be a good idea? To reach out and have bipartisan support with Labor? On Energy?
MINISTER PYNE: She’s been part of the government for the past five years that has implemented exactly the policies that I’ve just outlined. Look Labor’s not interested in bipartisanship Barrie, Bill Shorten’s always writing letters saying he wants to be bipartisan and then within twelve to twenty-four hours he’s demanding that the government change its policy entirely and refusing to cooperate, so he’s just inside the Canberra bubble, wanting to fight on every issue. We know that and the public know it too, that’s why he’s so miserably unpopular. Because he’s just a politician in the Canberra bubble, whereas Scott Morrison is seen to be, because he is, someone who wants to make the country better.
BARRIE CASSIDY: Thank you for your time this morning.
MINISTER PYNE: It’s always a pleasure.