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Transcript of interview with Lisa Wilkinson: WIN, Today Show: 4 February 2015: leadership

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THE HON CHRISTOPHER PYNE MP Minister for Education and Training Leader of the House


E&OE TRANSCRIPT Today with Lisa Wilkinson 04/02/2015

SUBJECT/S: Live interview with Christopher Pyne, Minister for Education.

LISA WILKINSON: Good morning to you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Lisa.

LISA WILKINSON: Christopher Pyne, you now have three backbenchers openly declaring their lack of support for Tony Abbott and around another 30 believed to be disgruntled, they’re leaking to the press. This can’t go on but how are you going to stop it?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Look, it can’t go on Lisa, you’re absolutely right and the Australian public don’t expect this kind of behaviour from their elected government members. We have to focus on what the Australian public want and that is jobs, they want an easier life. They want their government to make their lives easier and that’s the reason on Monday in the Prime Minister’s speech to the press club that he outlined a positive and conservative agenda for the next year. He talked about the importance of small business and how we’d have a small tax cut for business, about childcare, about making the lives of families easier and about the external and the internal threats to our national security. Politics is too serious to treat it like a parlour game and for that reason, I and the cabinet are unanimously behind Tony Abbott.

LISA WILKINSON: it wasn’t looking like that yesterday. Why do you think it took Julie Bishop, the Deputy Leader almost all of yesterday to put out a statement she would not challenge for the leadership?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Julie has been the Deputy since 2007 and I think she was insulted a little, offended a bit about the idea that she wasn’t totally loyal to Tony Abbott. I think she felt that she didn’t need to prove her loyalty. I can understand that, but

eventually she felt that she had to make a statement as she did yesterday afternoon but I don’t think it was because of a lack of support for Tony Abbott and think it was because she felt her loyalty should be unquestioned because she has always been loyal to Tony Abbott.

LISA WILKINSON: Was it a case of Industry Minister, Ian MacFarlane insisting that she had to put out a statement because you know how the ways work Christopher Pyne, if you don’t put those statements out early and kill it early; the speculation is only going to grow.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I don’t think it was because of Ian MacFarlane’s intervention, no. I meant the cabinet spent yesterday Lisa focusing on what the Australian public expect us to focus on, which is good policy to ensure our country is a great country and that their lives are better and whether this story continues to run because of various backbenchers making statements, the cabinet is getting on with the job, the Prime Minister is getting on with the job and that’s what the Australian public expects us to do. We have big challenges in the nation, the intergenerational report will be coming out soon, that will show to the Australian public that we have big challenges we have to face. We need an adult government making adult decisions and that’s exactly what I intend to keep on doing in education.

LISA WILKINSON: The problem is, the speculation just continues. It’s still dominating the front pages. It’s got to be getting in the way of good government. Shouldn’t you just have a spill on Monday, let everyone put their cards on the table and get this over and done with.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Lisa, that’s not the intention of the Prime Minister. The intention of the Prime Minister is to get on with the job. Parliament resumes next Monday, we will have legislation to be debated, we’ll have policy decisions to be announced. The job of Government is to live within our means, it’s to ensure we have external and internal security and it’s to provide for those who have little. And that’s exactly what we intend to keep doing as we have been for the last 18 months. Tony Abbott has led a very successful government, we have started to build the roads of the 21st century, we have abolished the carbon tax, therefore reducing electricity prices, we’ve abolished the mining tax, the handbrake off the mining industry which is coming off its boom and we’ve stopped the boats which the left said could not be done. So, we have been a successful government and backbenchers, frontbenchers, everybody should recognise that governments have rough times and smooth times, sure we’ve had a rather messy couple of months but mid-term governments often do.

LISA WILKINSON: And yet with all of those boxes ticked, the Prime Minister still has a personal disapproval rating of 67%. Do you believe that Tony Abbott still, in the eyes of the Australian public is the Prime Minister with the promises and the policies that Australia voted for?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I certainly do, and Lisa I would say that popularity is an ephemeral thing and the important thing about leadership is respect and effectiveness and whether it was Paul Keating, or Malcolm Fraser or Robert Menzies or John Howard, they didn’t chase popularity, they wanted to be respected and effective and that’s what Tony Abbott is, respected and effective. Chasing popularity is a short-term sugar hit that never lasts and that’s what we saw with Kevin Rudd.

LISA WILKINSON: Ok, Christopher Pyne, we will have to leave it there. Thank you very much for your time this morning.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It’s always a pleasure. Thank you Lisa.

Mr Pyne’s media contact: 0439 764 809, Department media: