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Pyne urges ALP to name Speaker -

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Pyne urges ALP to name Speaker

Broadcast: 19/09/2010

Reporter: Barrie Cassidy

The manager of Opposition business in the House of Representatives, Christopher Pyne, joins

BARRIE CASSIDY: We go to our program guest now and that's the manager of Opposition business in the
House of Representatives Christopher Pyne who joins us from Adelaide.

Good morning, welcome.


BARRIE CASSIDY: Can we just be clear from the start about your position regarding Rob Oakeshott as

Are you opposed to that happening?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Look it's up to the Government Barrie to provide the Speaker for the House of

And I guess the question is: has the Government dumped Harry Jenkins? And Julia Gillard hasn't been
asked that question.

We don't provide the Speaker from the Opposition. That comes from the Government.

Robert Oakeshott has run his flag up the pole and asked for support. The Government has not yet
indicated whether they've dumped Harry Jenkins.

We've said that we would prefer Harry Jenkins. We think he's been a good speaker. He's been fair
and reasonable.

And of course it's much easier if the speaker comes from the Labor Party as they are the

BARRIE CASSIDY: But is that because you want to deny the Labor Party a vote?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Look it's because the Government provides the Speaker Barrie.

In terms of the constitutional aspects of the speakership we've asked, I asked Anthony Albanese
last week to get some very watertight constitutional advice about exactly what can be done in terms
of the speakership.

And I assume he's getting that advice because we need to know that by the time we go back on
Tuesday week.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Tony Abbott says part of the reason why Rob Oakeshott wants the job is because he
wants to avoid voting on individual pieces of legislation so that he doesn't alienate his
electorate. Do you think that's what's motivating him?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Look I don't know what exactly is motivating Robert Oakeshott. He has indicated
he's a candidate.

Julia Gillard is yet to indicate whether Harry Jenkins has been dumped. I think that's a good
question to ask her as the Government does provide the Speaker.

We've indicated we support Harry Jenkins remaining in the speakership. It's up to the Parliament at
the end of the day. But the Speaker comes from the Government side.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But in your discussions though before the group hug when you came up with this deal
about parliamentary arrangements, didn't...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I wasn't so keen on the group hug Barrie...

BARRIE CASSIDY: No I noticed that at the time.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I can tell you.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But were not those discussions predicated on the possibility that an independent
might be the Speaker?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No they weren't predicated on that possibility. The negotiations went for some

And in those negotiations we assumed that the Speaker would come from the Government side.

And as far as the Opposition is concerned if it is Robert Oakeshott then the, that is part of the
non-Opposition if you like, the non-Opposition side of the House.

So he'll be regarded as a member of the Government side. So the deputy Speaker would then be from
the Opposition.

But having an independent as Speaker brings with it a whole lot of complications in terms of how
that person if they are provided with a pair how that would work.

And that is the constitutional advice that Anthony Albanese and Julia Gillard have to get.

We cannot have a situation Barrie where in this Parliament every piece of legislation can be
declared invalid by the High Court because of an invalid pairing arrangement of the Speaker.
Otherwise the 43rd Parliament will be ground to a halt.

And it's the Government's responsibility to make sure that's not the case, not the Opposition's.

And these are questions that Anthony Albanese and Julia Gillard need to answer, starting with: have
they dumped Harry Jenkins or are they prepared to support him as Speaker?

Because I would have thought a lot of members of the Labor Party would be very concerned if Harry
Jenkins was being dumped in this embarrassing public way that so far it seems he has been.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But you're saying that in your discussions with Rob Oakeshott not at any stage did
he give an indication he might be interested in the job?

Because he talks about it now as if it's such an obvious thing, that he needs to put his hand up to
break the deadlock.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, in none of my discussions with Robert Oakeshott or Anthony Albanese did he
ever indicate that he wanted to be the Speaker.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Okay well you also talk about the High Court might have to get involved in this.

But it's not really a case, can't you make informal arrangements agreeing to a pairing arrangement
whether it be with an independent or with a major party?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well the Opposition doesn't want to be part of any kind of contrivance that
circumvents the Constitution Barrie, whether it's informal or formal.

And that is why I've asked Anthony Albanese to get some watertight constitutional advice about how
the speakership can be handled.

That's the responsibility of the Government as they are forming Government. It's not really the
responsibility of the Opposition to get that advice.

And it's not really the responsibility of the Opposition to ensure that the legislation we are
passing is valid.

And we don't want to get into this peculiar situation where the Opposition is being blamed for the
Government's failures. They have chosen to govern.

They have sought and received a commission. This new idea that the Opposition could be responsible
for failure in the Parliament is quite ridiculous.

It's of a piece with the Government's new claim that because they haven't got majority status they
don't have to keep any of their pre-election promises, whether they're the carbon tax, whether
they're the Curtin detention centre.

This new detention centre at Cape York which they bald facedly said before the election would not
happen, since the election they're now saying well all bets are off, we want a blank cheque to
break all our promises including the Opposition might be responsible if the Parliament doesn't

Well look you know fair crack of the whip. The Government is responsible for the Parliament. They
want to be in Government.

If they can't stand the heat they should hand over the Government to the Opposition. We'd be quite
happy to make the Parliament work if they can't.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Well just finally on the question of Speaker then. You're saying that you'll only
operate on the pair arrangement if it's a major party involved. You won't put that into place for
an independent.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Look we've indicated we're happy to keep our agreement with the Government. But
that agreement obviously has to be constitutionally valid.

And hopefully we'll hear this week what the advice from the Government is in terms of
constitutional validity.

It is much easier to pair a member of the Labor Party with the Liberal Party. It's very hard to
pair an independent because who do you pair them with?

If they vote with the Government do we pair them with the Opposition? If they vote with the
Opposition do we pair them with the Government?

They are, it is a much more complicated arrangement. And the Opposition doesn't want to be part of
any arrangement that might be constitutionally invalid.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Alright on the Malcolm Turnbull now, he's been given communications, shadow
communications minister. How much flexibility will he have to rework the Coalition's policy?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well the Coalition's policy was the right policy for the election. It was $6
billion using fibre optic cable, using wireless and satellite to ensure that Australians were
connected to broadband.

So Malcolm Turnbull's job will be to do two things:

Number one to expose the fact that the Government's National Broadband Network is without a cost
benefit analysis, without a business plan, $43 billion of taxpayers' money to build essentially a
white elephant.

And in comparison he'll be promoting the Coalition's policy. And I'm sure that there will be
refinements to all Coalition policies over the coming months and if necessary years.

We did take a good suite of policies to the election and a good team. And that's why we did
extremely well in the election.

Let's not forget - we went from being, looking like losing 22 seats nine months ago to having more
seats than the Labor Party and more primary votes than the Labor Party.

So there's no point in junking all our policies now Barrie. We need to refine them of course and
improve them with ongoing circumstances. And that will be one of Malcolm Turnbull's roles.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Yes but you say that you took the right policy to the election but now you'll
refine it. What's happened in the meantime?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well policies, circumstances change. I mean you wouldn't expect...

BARRIE CASSIDY: But what has changed? What has changed in four weeks?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well nothing's changed in four weeks except that the Government has decided to
break all its promises, whether it's the citizens' assembly, the Curtin detention centre, the Cape
York detention centre, the carbon tax, etc. We haven't changed...

BARRIE CASSIDY: But how does that then entitle you to break one of your promises and change your
broadband policy?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: We haven't. What I'm saying Barrie is in 2013 if the election lasts that long you
wouldn't expect our policies in 2010 to be precisely the same in 2013.

So refining means ensuring that our policies remain fresh, up to date with existing circumstances
and picking up the aspirations and hopes of the Australian people.

Now they haven't changed in four weeks but that's not to say they won't change in three years. And
any other suggestion would be quite absurd.

BARRIE CASSIDY: And that will apply to climate change as well I presume because Malcolm Turnbull is
saying that he still thinks there should be a carbon price, there should be a market based

How much support is there in the party room for his approach?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well we haven't changed our policy on a carbon tax. We don't support it. And we
don't support a sneaky...

BARRIE CASSIDY: No but neither has Malcolm Turnbull changed his approach.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: And we don't support a sneaky arrangement through the emissions trading scheme to
tax the Australian people.

We support a direction action plan which we took to the election which would have achieved the same
cuts in emissions as the Government non-policy which was junked of course for the citizens'

Malcolm Turnbull supports our direct action on climate change. And we have not changed our policy
in relation to a carbon tax.

Because the Government is now in alliance with the Greens they've done a number of things. They've
announced that they will have a carbon tax.

They have removed Penny Wong from the environment portfolio because the Greens demanded it and put
her in finance. They've also junked other policies.

I'm not sure the Greens would necessarily be supporting the massive expansion of the detention
centre at Curtin which the Labor Party lied about before the election or at Cape York which the
Labor Party lied about before the next election.

But they're some of the things that will test the new Green-Labor Government.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Yes but Malcolm Turnbull, I go back to Malcolm Turnbull's position. He said it
hasn't changed. He still supports a carbon price.

Is he just being stubborn, sticking with a policy that effectively lost him the leadership?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Look they're questions you should probably put to Malcolm Turnbull who's more
than capable of answering them.

He crossed the floor on the emissions trading scheme. That's his right within the Liberal Party.
We're not governed by faceless men and factional bovver boys.

But the Coalition has not changed its policy. We will not support a carbon tax. We will not support
the mining tax.

The Labor Party wants to have a mining tax. The Greens want to increase it. They want a carbon tax.
And the Greens want to ensure that that occurs.

They're junked their citizens' assembly policy and they think that being in minority Government
somehow means they don't have to keep any of their promises.

But they did want to seek a commission to form a Government and Julia Gillard is responsible for
ensuring those policies that she took to the election are implemented.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Tony Abbott said yesterday there's a lot of anger and disappointment within the
party still about the way the election was decided. Is it time to move on from that?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Barrie it wouldn't be human nature for us not to be disappointed.

But of course we will now move on to being an effective Opposition and an alternative government.

As Michael Stutchbury points out we could at any time form a government through by-elections or
through independents changing their mind. And therefore we have to present an alternative
government through our policies and our team.

But we also have to do our job. And our job is to hold the Government to account.

And if we weren't doing that, if we weren't pursuing the Government for its failures as we have for
the last three years then the losers from that would be the Australian taxpayers.

The Australian, the democratic system works on the basis of an adversarial Parliament.

And of course Julia Gillard wants to usher in an age of Aquarius which I used to think was a song
but apparently she wants it to be a Government policy.

But we are not going to buy up to some consensual Parliament where the taxpayer is the loser.

BARRIE CASSIDY: And just finally Bob Brown said this morning that he wants to overturn Kevin
Andrews' bill on euthanasia and give the territories the same right as the states to decide for
themselves on that issue of euthanasia.

How do you think that will go down in the Opposition?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well the last time we had a vote on euthanasia we had a conscience vote Barrie
and I voted in favour of Kevin Andrews' bill which meant that I voted against euthanasia.

And I haven't changed my mind. I assume that we would continue with a conscience vote on that

And Bob Brown raising the issue of euthanasia of course is exactly the kind of issues that he will
be raising. I assume he will raise death duties, another Greens policy; inheritance tax, another
Greens policy; as he has raised euthanasia.

And this is the shambles that will be the 43rd Parliament.

Rather than focussing on the economy, rather than focussing on Australian standard of living the
Greens will ensure that in their alliance with the Labor Party we are pursuing rabbits down every

And I will be very concerned if the 43rd Parliament means that Australia is worse off in three
years rather than better off because of the Labor Green Government that we now have which appears
to be going from bad to worse under Julia Gillard.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Christopher Pyne thanks for your time this morning.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It's a pleasure.