Italian Radio Network

12 Aug 2013 Transcipt

SUBJECTS: Leaders’ Debate; Election 2013; Same sex marriage; E&OE............................... Riccardo Schirru: Mr Pyne, welcome to Rete Italian and to Il Globo and thank you for accepting our invitation to come over. And first of all, welcome here and I understand that you speak a bit of Italian, so… Christopher Pyne: (speaks Italian - thank you for the invitation today, I speak a little bit of Italian, it isn't enough, but I am able to hold a conversation as I have 8,000 electors with an)… Italian background, and so I have sometimes speak in Italian but it is not enough. Schirru: But you have an Italian connection as well… Pyne: Indeed. My oldest brother, Remington, not a very Italian name, Riccardo, he was born in Rome in 1958 because my father was the medical officer at the Rome Embassy, the Australian embassy when he was studying eye surgery at Rome University and they spent – my mother and father – spent three years in Italy and many years ago when he called into the Italian Consulate in Adelaide he was looking for a passport or a visa they put his name in the system and they said actually you were called up to the Italian army many, many years ago. By that stage he was much too old, but it was very amusing for us all. So we did – my family are a bit of Italafiles. My father was an eye surgeon and he spoke Italian quite fluently and we always loved all things Italian. Schirru: Well, I noticed that the Italian food is not one of your favourite things, because I saw that your favourite meal was damper with steak and mash potatoes – very indigenous Australian. Pyne: Well I try and stay away from carbohydrates, Riccardo. And the problem with beautiful Italian food is far too much pasta for me and food and politics is a difficult combination. Politicians can put on a lot of weight very quickly because everywhere we go people are offering us food. The wonderful thing about Italian households is that every time you say you have had enough, they - if you say Basta Basta, they always feed you something else! Schirru: Mangia Mangia! Pyne: Exactly. I haven’t worked out the code to tell Italian families that I have had enough yet! It certainly is not Basta. Schirru: It doesn’t exist. Pyne: No, it doesn’t exist! Schirru: Mr Pyne, second week of the electoral campaign, how’s things going? Pyne: Well I think they are going very well for the Coalition. I think that the election is centred on the economy and issues around job security, cost of living, border protection and economic management – they are the issues that people are most concerned about and I get the impression that they think the Australian Coalition has a plan for the future whereas Labor is kind of mired in the last six years of Mr Rudd’s record in government which of course is one of debt and deficit and rising unemployment and a sluggish economy and I think small business people in particular are very worried about confidence and a lot of Italian people of course are in Australia are small business people and professionals and they would be worried about the direction of the country. Schirru: The debate which we just see last night, was apparently according to the press, some people say that Kevin Rudd won, some say that Tony Abbott won. Did you see it? Pyne: Well Mr Rudd made such a big thing about debating, he was a bit like one of those 100 meter male sprinters in the Olympics who talked big before the race and therefore he needed to have a knockout blow against Mr Abbott which he certainly did not achieve. I thought he looked grumpy and rattled and for a man who weeks ago said that he wanted to rise above the negative daily petty politics, he seemed to spend most of his time talking about Mr Abbott rather than about the future of the country so I think that most people watching the debate thought that Mr Rudd was a bit of a damp squib as we say in Australia. Schirru: Well, I suppose that both of them though spoke about each other more than policies. But talking about the debate, Mr Abbott says that the $70 billion hole is fake. One wonders then how could you compensate the scraping of taxes and especially the reduction in the company tax if the $70 billion is a fake? Pyne: Well Mr Abbott in his speech to the National Press Club in January and then in his Budget-In-Reply speech in May outlined $17 billion of savings, things like reductions to the public service, cutting the humanitarian refugee intake from the increase to 20,000+ back to the 14,000 where it’s been, other measures which all together add up to $17 billion. Then if you keep the pension rises and the income tax cuts that go with the carbon tax abolition, that’s worth about $12 billion and the company tax cut is worth about $5 billion so the $17 billion that we have taken care of on the revenue side is now matched by $17 billion on the savings side. This $70 billion black hole that Labor talks about is a three year old figure which includes things like making up for the revenue shortfall by abolishing the carbon tax and the mining tax. Only three years ago the estimates for the carbon tax and the mining tax were widely exaggerated. So if Labor keeps relying on tha figure then they are doing themselves more economic damage in terms of their credibility. Schirru: So there won’t be any rise in the GST, there won’t be any bad surprises put it this way if and when you get elected? Pyne: Well if we get elected we have made it absolutely clear that the GST will not change. It is kind of embarrassing that Mr Rudd who has been the Prime Minister for most of the last six years has to resort to a scare campaign about a non-story rather than outlining his own vision for the future. Schirru: What about Mr Rudd using notes in yesterday’s debate? Is this such a big issue? Pyne: Well it is only an issue because Mr Abbott looked more like a leader and Mr Rudd looked more like a reader. The problem for Mr Rudd is that the rules of engagement of those debates don’t allow the use of notes and Mr Rudd prides himself on his apparent brilliance in debating and yet he had to rely on notes. So Mr Rudd set himself up for a fall because if he hadn’t overplayed his hand before the debate, I don’t think people would have minded as much. Schirru: The only, the only sort of surprise of the debate, put it this way, the decision by Mr Rudd to say that within 100 days of an election of a Labor government it would put the gay marriage issue. I understand that you are pro-gay marriages, or not? Pyne: I am not pro same sex marriage, no. I am in favour of civil unions but I am not in favour of same sex marriage, no. Schirru: Do you think that the Coalition as well as Labor should allow a conscience vote on the matter? Pyne: Well I think that Mr Rudd has tried to create a distraction in the campaign from the main issues. Now most people in Australia are not against same sex marriage, I think they don’t think it affects them, I think there is a very small percentage of Australians that regard it as the most important issue in the election, I think the vast majority of Australians think that job security, cost of living, border protection, economy management are the most important issues in the election. And if Mr Rudd thinks that the highest priority for a new government is same sex marriage, then I think he is out of touch with the reality of most peoples’ lives in Australia. Schirru: Yeah, but do you think that the Coalition as well as Labor should have a conscience vote on the matter? Pyne: Well if it comes up in the next Parliament, which it may or may not, then the Coalition party room will reconsider the stance that we took to the 2010 election which is that we wouldn’t change the Marriage Act. In reconsidering that we would also decide whether to have a conscience vote or not. Schirru: Mr Pyne, you spent quite some time criticising the Gonski report. In the election when Tony Abbott actually said that, announced that the Coalition, a Coalition government, will honour the agreements that Labor did sign with the states. Were you under pressure from the state premiers to actually say that because I understand that the states governments thought that the Gonski reform wasn’t such a bad thing for them? Or were you trying to remove something that was damaging or could have been potentially damaging for the election campaign? Or did you just oppose as a matter of principle whatever the government says? Pyne: The truth is that so long into the school year and with a new school funding model due to start on the 1st of January next year, I made the assessment that we had to give schools, states and territories and non-government systems certainty of funding from the 1st of January next year. So while we have concerns about the way the government has managed this issue and they now have seven bilateral agreements with seven different jurisdictions. I thought it was important for us to put the uncertainty to one side and give a commitment that we would fund Labor’s promises dollar for dollar in terms of funding which we have done for the next four years and that we would then be able to move the debate on to issues like teacher quality, principal autonomy, parental engagement and the curriculum. And so that’s why we made that announcement. Schirru: If the Coalition will win the next election, you would be the Minister for Education I assume? Pyne: I hope so. (repeats "I hope so" again in Italian). Schirru: Do you have any other aspiration? Pyne: Well if we win the election I hope to be the Minister for Education and the Leader of the House - because I am currently the Manager of Opposition Business - I think that would be more than enough to keep me busy for the next few years. Schirru: Mr Pyne, your role in Parliament is the one of an attacking person. You have been called several, several names during the years. Do you feel it is in that role, or are you someone different and you just put it on when you…. Pyne: Well Riccardo, I have been debating since I was in year six at school at St Ignatius in Norwood and I am always very keen to put our side of the argument and to critique the other side’s debate and if that places me in that role as the spear tip of the Coalition’s attack I am very comfortable in that role. I do think that in a robust democracy it is very important for both sides to put their view and to put it powerfully as possible and people make their own assessment. And I enjoy the parliament, I really enjoy the cut and thrust of the chamber and so I naturally have ended up in that role. Schirru: But after Question time, I mean, is all forgotten, I mean is that part, that’s part of your job? You attack the government, the government attack you and so on and so forth. Once you come out of the chamber, what does it happen? I mean is there a more civil type of relationship? Pyne: I mean there is a certain amount of theatre in the chamber, there’s no doubt about that. And I try and maintain a good relationship with my opposite number who is Anthony Albanese and we try and enjoy each other’s company while also disagreeing. But I have always been o the view that you don’t have to agree with people to necessarily like them and outside of politics I try and be as warm and charming as any other human being but in the political debate there isn’t a lot of room of that kind of relationship but outside politics I have tried to be straight and honest with my opponents and I have always found Anthony Albanese at least honest back. Schirru: You should probably debate him in Italian, Anthony Albanese. Pyne: Anthony Albanese’s Italian is probably better than mine because he is a native speaker. Schirru: No, I think he was born in Sydney. Pyne: Sure, but… Schirru: But I found out recently, I interviewed him some time ago, he actually goes back to Italy every year. Pyne: Does he? Schirru: So there. Maybe you should. How about you, you going to Italy? Pyne: I have been to Italy many times. I took my family to Rome and my wife and I took a country house, a farm house in Tuscano many years ago before we had children, we now have four, been to Milan and all sorts of places but a lot of my electorate come from the Campania region and my ambition is to get back to the Campania region and see some of the towns from which my electorate come like Altavilla and San Giorgio La Molara, and of course I have got a number of processions in my electorate, Santa Maria del Monte Virginia, San Rocco, San Pelegrino, etc, St Anthony’s. So I have a great relationship with the Italian voters in my electorate, they have always been very loyal to me and I hope that they remain that way. Schirru: You say that four kids. Pyne: Si. Schirru: Two boys and two girls. Pyne: Yes. Schirru: Obviously your family life must be as busy as your campaigning life at the moment? Pyne: At the moment it is very tricky, I am trying to spend the weekend with the children as much as possible. In fact my youngest child’s name is Aurelia and that would be very well known to Roman listeners. Schirru: Of course. Pyne: Yeah. Schirru: And I understand that your two boys are keen football supporters. Pyne: Si. I have Barnabas - Barnaby, Felicia - Felix, Elanara - Eleanor and Aurelia. And the boys follow AFL, the Crows and the Redlegs, the Norwood Redlegs, but they did in fact, Felix played for the Azzurri Blue Eagles for a year in Payneham which he enjoyed. Schirru: And given that you have been following the football as well and I understand that when you were recently at the football what they were thinking about (inaudible) what can you go on with? Pyne: Well that’s true. I was yesterday, I was at my child’s football and I said to the blokes gathered together so how do you think things are going? And the response was that they should either get on charging Essendon or not, and sort of brought home to me that the public are not that switched on to the election as they are to what’s going on in the AFL. It brings all politicians back to the ground pretty quickly when they actually hang out with the voters and find out that that many people have made up their minds about the election and just want to get on with good government. Schirru: Well good luck with the election. Pyne: Grazie. Schirru: …with the future and thank you very much again. Pyne: Grazie. ENDS