Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts.These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Q And A -

View in ParlView



$50B SUBS00:15:16



A SECRET ETS?00:32:46





NBN 00:57:04

“NO DICKHEADS”00:61:26

TONY JONES: Good evening and welcome to this special edition of Q&A. I’m Tony Jones. Well, in less than six weeks, Australians will cast their votes for every seat in the House and the Senate to decide which of the parties will form Australia’s next Government. Tonight, to answer your questions - a special Q&A debate: the Coalition's Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne and Labor's Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Cities, Anthony Albanese. Please welcome our guests.


TONY JONES: Though as usual, you can watch Q&A live across Australia on ABC TV, on News 24 and listen on News Radio, and tonight, for the very first time, we're experimenting with streaming Q&A live via Facebook. So go to our Facebook page and watch and comment or ask a question. First, let’s go to our - well, our first question, in fact, is from the audience. Let’s go to Rhys Whitelock.

RHYS WHITELOCK: The latest Newspoll shows that Labor is now ahead of the Coalition and that Malcolm Turnbull's overall net satisfaction is the same as Bill Shorten's. I myself have always been an avid Liberal supporter. However, Malcolm has not lived up to expectations since taking the top job. Is it time that the far right of the Liberal Party started letting Malcolm be Malcolm to win back voters such as myself?

TONY JONES: Christopher Pyne, we'll start with you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, thank you for the question, and thank you, Tony. I think you can call me “Christopher” and Anthony “Anthony” tonight, since it's like a fireside chat rather than the usual Q&A panel, rather than, Mr Pyne.

TONY JONES: Okay, Chris. We’ll all be fine.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Thank you. That will be fine. Well, what the polls show is that it's going to be a very close election and if you vote for Bill Shorten or the Greens or Independents, you could well end up with a hung Parliament, as we had in the 43rd Parliament with Julia Gillard's Government, which was unstable and chaotic and led to bad decision making. So I welcome the fact the polls are close, because they remind people that they actually have to make a serious choice between tax and spend Bill or jobs and growth Malcolm.

TONY JONES: I'm going to just bring you to the question.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: You told me I could have one minute each?

TONY JONES: I’m going to bring you to the question, though, because you didn't answer it. The question was, is it time for the far right of the Liberal Party to start setting Malcolm be Malcolm to win back voters such as that gentleman?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, I didn't answer that because I didn't agree with the premise of the question and...

TONY JONES: Well, then you can say so.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: The premise of the question is - well, I’ll answer the questions like I - as I choose to answer them. You can answer the ones how you’d like to answer them.

TONY JONES: What you really mean is you’ll ignore the ones you choose to ignore.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, the point is that the premise of the question is not right and Malcolm Turnbull is doing exactly what he wants to do as Prime Minister and leader. He looks like a Prime Minister. He sounds like a Prime Minister. He acts like a Prime Minister. He's obviously intelligent. He's a success in his own right and he's brought that success into politics. I think he will continue to be Prime Minister and he's much more popular than Shorten in terms of the preferred Prime Ministership. But polls - there's so many polls. I think there's a bit of poll fatigue in the electorate but the important thing about that poll is that it shows that people need to really seriously consider whether they want the instability that they've had before in hung Parliaments, or whether they want the Turnbull Coalition Government to continue, and I think that that's the decision that they will make because they want our national plan.

TONY JONES: All right. We might come back to our questioner in a moment, Christopher, but first we'll go to Anthony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much. I think the premise of the question is right. I think that Australians breathed a sigh of relief when Tony Abbott left the Prime Ministership or was removed. They had a sense that he was a very negative Prime Minister and I think a divisive Prime Minister. And Malcolm Turnbull promised to treat the Australian people like adults. Now when they look at Malcolm Turnbull, they hear Tony Abbott.


ANTHONY ALBANESE: And I think the problem is that Malcolm Turnbull has decades on the record of wanting strong action on climate change, supporting marriage equality, supporting the republic, and it isn't so much that Malcolm Turnbull is in conflict with Tony Abbott, it's that Malcolm Turnbull is in conflict with himself and politicians who aren't conviction politicians, I think, will be marked down by the public. I think the public are very disappointed. They're not angry with Malcolm Turnbull. I think they're disappointed with Malcolm Turnbull.

TONY JONES: Let's go back to our questioner, Rhys. Do you have an opinion on what you have just heard from both our panellists?

RHYS WHITELOCK: Well, I kind of disagree with what Christopher Pyne said. Like, I want the old Malcolm back, the old Malcolm who was more socially progressive, the Malcolm who crossed the floor on the emissions trading scheme, the Malcolm who was for marriage equality, like scrap the plebiscite. Get rid of it.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Malcolm is still in favour of marriage equality, Rhys. He’s still in favour of marriage equality.

RHYS WHITELOCK: Yeah, but like he's still doing the plebiscite.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: That's right because we want everybody to have a vote so that their say is the same as mine and Anthony Albanese's say because that means that they'll also own the decision in the same way as elections are like compulsory voting in Australia, because it means nobody can nobody say in this country that they had nothing to do with the outcome of the election. And one of the problems with voluntary voting in the UK or the US, for example, is that a lot of people tune out of politics and the same with the plebiscite. It will be compulsory and the public will own the decision. If they vote yes for marriage equality, then there will be marriage equality. If they vote no, everyone has had a say.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, can I respond, just...

TONY JONES: Now, Christopher, I’ve just got one quick follow-up question and then I’ll throw to you, if you wouldn’t mind. If you go backwards...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: He's champing at the bit.

TONY JONES: If you go backwards - if you go backwards in this election and lost, let’s say 9 to 11 seats, would Mr Turnbull's leadership be in question?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, Tony, that isn't even a question. You know, the truth is Malcolm Turnbull is the Prime Minister. We are not even discussing, you know, post-election periods. We have to get through this election and the question is will Bill Shorten remain as leader of the opposition if the Labor Party loses the election as I expect that it…

TONY JONES: Well, we'll come to that, but that very…

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Or will this man become the leader of the Opposition.

TONY JONES: That very scenario - that very scenario was put to me by a very senior Liberal colleague of yours.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, a lot of people say anonymous things and then they get put to people like me on national television and expect me to answer. So that puts me in a rather difficult position, doesn’t it, because I don't know who might or may not have been speaking to you but I can tell you that...

TONY JONES: But you were warning about a hung Parliament. If it gets to that, will Malcolm Turnbull's leadership be safe after the election?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It's not even at issue. It is not at issue. You know, we are 100% behind Malcolm Turnbull being the Prime Minister of Australia, because we believe that we have the national economic plan that will deliver jobs and growth into the future and jobs is the number one issue in this election. Now, Labor has a different approach. They want to tax people more and they want to spend more money in the same way as they did in the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd period. We believe the better way to create jobs is with our six-point plan around innovation, defence industry, free trade, etc.

TONY JONES: We'll come to that in specifics. Anthony Albanese, you wanted to get in.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I did on the - I'm happy to talk about jobs as well but on the issue of the plebiscite, I think that's one of the issues where people are a bit stronger than disappointed in Malcolm Turnbull. In an electorate such as mine, or Christopher's for that matter, I think that probably a young person coming to terms with their sexuality, yeah, probably has a bit of a support network that's much greater than someone in some of the outer suburbs or perhaps in our rural and regional communities where you don't have that support network. And I'm very concerned that a plebiscite about marriage equality, to tell us what we already know - we already know that Australians overwhelmingly support marriage equality. Not necessarily in terms of, oh, it's a great thing but most Australians don't want to know what goes on between individuals in terms that they have respect. They might say "I don't get it but love who you love and get on with life. It doesn't bother me. It doesn't impact on me." I reckon that's where most Australians are. And, in terms of the plebiscite, for Malcolm Turnbull, representing the electorate that he does in Wentworth, having the connections that he does, and he's been quite, you know, proudly a participant in the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras here in Sydney for a very long period of time and is very genuine, I have no question about his genuine support for organisations like 2010 that deal with youth services for young gay and lesbians.

TONY JONES: We have to bring to you a close.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: For him to support a plebiscite is, I just think, outrageous because he knows better.

TONY JONES: Okay, let's move on to other topics. We have got plenty of questions tonight. The next one is from Alice Martin.

ALICE MARTIN: Not only are we expecting our younger generation to take on significant debt to finance their higher education, but we are demanding that they shoulder the burden of ballooning government debt. Is any party going to launch a credible attempt to bring the budget back to surplus or is the clamour from potential losers always too loud?

TONY JONES: I'll start with Anthony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, we've made some pretty tough decisions. If you have a look at just the budget of just a couple of weeks ago and the budget reply, we had more than - around about $100 billion of savings just in terms of positions that we were putting forward in terms of the three issues of not supporting the big business tax cuts, saying that should be just for small business, that's what it's aimed at, the negative gearing capital and gains tax changes that we, I think, have put forward in a way which has surprised people. Even people who aren't sure, I think give us credit for going out there and saying what we would do on housing affordability in an area that’s very difficult.

TONY JONES: But this was a question about what you're going to do about debt.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: And about the deficit levy.

TONY JONES: You're talking about spending right now.


TONY JONES: You're talking about the policies that you're going to introduce using the money you've saved. What about the deficit? That’s the question they ask.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: But that's how you deal with the deficit, in terms of its revenues and expenditures. That's how you deal with it. We haven't, as an opposition, we haven't committed to any spending without putting forward savings. We have more savings than expenditures and, over a period of time, we have, I believe, a path back to surplus. We must remember that the global financial crisis we were hit with, we had to respond to it. We make no apologies for the fact we kept 200,000 people in work as a result of our economic stimulus plan. Widely regarded as the most effective in the world.

TONY JONES: All right, I’m just going to quickly go back to our questioner. Are you satisfied you're hearing about debt reduction in this answer?


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, I'm not either. I agree with Alice. Can I respond to Alice now?

TONY JONES: You can respond.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, Alice, you ask a very good question and this is one of the key issues in the election campaign because Labor has promised $100 billion of new taxes. They admit that. They've promised $165 billion of new spending measures. They've got a $65 billion gap, so they’ll have to borrow that, as they did in the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd period. So Labor has given up on trying to ever deliver a surplus, ever trying to pay back the debt. When we came to - when they came to power in 2007, there was money in the bank, there was a surplus in the budget, the future fund, the higher education endowment fund, there was a health fund, there was a telecommunications fund. All they’ve got is a gong.

TONY JONES: Christopher, can I interrupt here? You're talking about Labor and, with respect, I think the questioner wants to hear what your debt reduction plan is.


TONY JONES: Because currently your Government is spending, as a percentage of GDP, more than 25% for the next three years.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: More than we did.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Over the forward estimates, Alice, if you look in the forward estimates and I'm sure you probably do because you seem to be a well-informed QandA audience member, there is a path back to surplus and a debt reduction strategy which reduces...

TONY JONES: When do you get to surplus, Christopher?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, over time but we're not going to put a handbrake on the economy. Now, Labor is not even trying to do that. Labor is trying to segment the market in the election campaign and promise every group that they meet that they're going to give them the money they ask for. Now, that is quite successful in terms of buying elections in the short term. But by election day, I think the great common sense of the Australian public is that all sounds great, all that spending, but I'm going to be the one who has to pay for it. I, the taxpayer, am going to have to pay because either they're going to borrow it and they're going to tax me. Now, I don't think the public will buy that by election day. In the short term, Bill is trying to rebuild each segment of the market and it's very cynical politics.

TONY JONES: Okay, but just on your politics for a minute, the Treasurer is not forecasting a surplus until 2021.


TONY JONES: That's how many years away? Five, six years away?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, that's only five years away. Four or five years away in terms of financial years. Labor's not even trying to deliver a surplus. They are promising $37.5 billion more spending on education, $12. 5 billion just on the lifting the freeze on the Medicare rebates. That's just to start with. They're promising $16 billion in foreign aid expenditure.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: And that's less than your big business company tax. That is less than your big business company tax cut but we’re your redefining...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: But you have to admit you’re promising $100 billion more taxes.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: ...where you’re redefining small business as being businesses like Coles.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, between 2 and $10 million. Well, Coles is a lot more than $10 million.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, they have a turnover of a billion dollars. That is what will happen over a period of time.


ANTHONY ALBANESE: Okay. I’ll tell what we’re going to do. We're going to - sorry, we’re going to listen to each other just for a moment. So let's hear what he says and then respond.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: We are. This is how we communicate. This is how we communicate with each other.

TONY JONES: I know but it’s not very useful to communicate like that so let's just hear briefly your point and then we'll get your point.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: He’s made his point.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The fact is that we’ve - we've made difficult decisions. It would be easy to say, yes, you can have a tax cut for all businesses. We've said, no, the economy can't afford that and the right thing to do is to have a small business tax cut but for businesses that are actually small.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: And the facts are, if I can respond, is that the tax cut for companies is up to businesses with $10 million turnover. Coles is a lot more than a $10 million turnover. They employ...

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Going up to a billion.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: They employ 4.79 million Australians. So we're trying help those people in their jobs to keep those jobs into the future and grow those businesses.

TONY JONES: All right. I’m just going to quickly go back to our questioner one more time because I asked you whether you thought Anthony Albanese had answered the question on debt. Are you satisfied you got an answer from Christopher Pyne on debt?

ALICE MARTIN: Not really. I feel five years is too far into the future and it's wafer thin and questionable.

TONY JONES: Okay, we will take that as a comment and we’ll move onto our next question, which is from Peter Moggach.

PETER MOGGACH: Yes, my question is addressed to both. If both parties agree that it's a good idea to eliminate the budget deficit, why does defence spending appear to be protected from cuts? No one has satisfactorily explained to me why we need 12 very expensive submarines, while other countries can get by just fine without any submarines, for example, New Zealand. So wouldn't this money be better spent elsewhere within the economy or perhaps even saved?

TONY JONES: Christopher Pyne?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, we take national security very, very seriously in the Coalition and we have a responsibility as an extremely wealthy country in the world to do our part for international security in our part of the world in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and obviously Asia. So the 12 submarines are critical to our national security into the future and they are expensive. Now, Labor reduced spending on defence to levels of 1938 in terms of percentages of GDP. So you probably support that but we believe that we should increase the spending on defence because it's very much part of our national security. But what Malcolm has also wanted to do is use that money here in Australia to drive high-technology advanced manufacturing jobs in naval ship building and in other parts of the defence industry, because that creates jobs here and amazing spin-off effects in terms of research, development, new ideas that create jobs. So we are not exporting that money overseas, we are spending that money here in Australia.

TONY JONES: Christopher, a follow-up on that. This morning on Radio National breakfast the former Adelaide Thinker in Residence Professor Göran Roos, who is a global expert on manufacturing, said the Government has not yet negotiated with the French whether the crucial development work for the submarines will be done in Australia. Is that correct?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, no, it's not correct. We are involved in a proper commercial negotiation with DCNS as the builder of the submarine. DCNS has admitted that probably less than 10% of the work will be done outside Australia. Now, most people regard a local build as about 60 to 70%. So, in fact, that's very good news for Adelaide and Australia. And of course, these jobs and this spending will be spread all around the country: Newcastle, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Tasmania ...

TONY JONES: So critically, according to Professor Göran Roos, the development phase has not been negotiated. Are you saying he's wrong about that?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, Professor Göran Roos wouldn't know. I know Göran. He’s a very decent fellow.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: But he is not part of the negotiation with DCNS and he wouldn't know that.

TONY JONES: But you can tell us now. So is it, in fact, true that the negotiations include the development phase and you've got a deal on that already?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, of course the negotiations include the development phase for the submarine because it's a new submarine.

TONY JONES: Yeah, sure.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Sure it's the barracuda short fin submarine and therefore, but it needs to be modified for Australian conditions.

TONY JONES: But you concluded the negotiations on the development phase before you signed off on a deal, did you because he...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, Tony, there's no such thing as that, and honestly...

TONY JONES: Well, no, but he says simply...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, he's not right.

TONY JONES: can't go back to the figure you've already made a deal with and then renegotiate some section of it...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, we are in a commercial...

TONY JONES: ...and then renegotiate some section of it.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, that's not right.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Göran Roos is wrong. There is a commercial negotiation with DCNS as there would be whoever was in government, which will be concluded over the course of the next few months. But the deal with DCNS includes the - almost all the spending being done here in Australia. Of course there are some things that we don't do in Australia. There are combat systems that will be imported into the submarines that the United States does, for example, that we don't do. So nobody can say that 100% will be done here and no one expects that. But the idea that there are parts of the agreement that have been cordoned off and not negotiated or not to be negotiated is simply wrong.

TONY JONES: Okay. Anthony Albanese?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it's a bipartisan position and I think Christopher's right when he says that it is important to have the development phase and maximise Australian employment here. The other thing is that there's a spin-off outside of defence industries by having the defence build here. There's a spin-off in terms of advanced manufacturing, smart manufacturing, just like with the car industry, there was a spin-off as well and it's unfortunate that it's been in decline. But there are bonuses beyond the defence industry. The other thing is about defence spending that I think is worthy of saying, having been a minister when we were confronted with the bushfires in Victoria and the floods in Queensland, our defence forces don't just fight militarily. They play a really important critical role at times of national emergency for our country. So when we look at defence spending and building up those capacities, for a nation like ours, with the natural disasters that we have, my contact with them has been very much as the Infrastructure Minister, has been with that hat on and they have been critical.

TONY JONES: Okay. We have a number of people in the audience from Wollongong in the Illawarra. We have got a question from one of those people. It’s from Sandra Bourke.

SANDRA BOURKE: We are now living with third and fourth generation welfare and with youth unemployment in the Illawarra at 15.5%. Local industry is struggling to stay afloat and many are at risk of shutting permanently. The mines are putting people off and there's very few that have faith that BlueScope will survive. I see ageing tradesmen who are not employing people because we don't have the infrastructure there, and the craftsmanship and skills that they know, they're not passing them on to our youth. There's decades of skills that will just die with them when they go. The schools are focused on technology and they're lucky to make up about 20% of the students. What's going to happen with the other 80%? What do you plan to do about youth unemployment and securing a future not just for them but for the future of Australia?

TONY JONES: Christopher Pyne, we'll start with you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, the good news is that, in fact, BlueScope Steel announced a higher than expected profit today on the stock exchange, which mean that BlueScope Steel has started recovering quite successfully because they put in place good plans, working with the union and their workforce, with their customers as well, with their shareholders and the banks. So BlueScope Steel is reporting higher than expected profits, which is good news. So it's not about to close, BlueScope Steel. As the Industry Minister, it's a fantastic portfolio, because one of the things I've been able to do is try and support Australian manufacturing. So I have put, for example, tariffs of up to 53% on Asian steel coming into Australia. That is a very substantial support for not just Arrium in Whyalla but also BlueScope Steel in Wollongong and the Illawarra. We have committed - Malcolm committed and obviously I support his commitment to building - to using Australian steel in all of our naval ship building and that is over a $90 billion commitment to naval ship building. That's like the biggest contract in the world right now for naval ship building. Not just the 12 submarines, but nine future frigates, 12 offshore patrols vessels and 21 Pacific patrol vessels. So 54 ships that we are building into the future, using Australian steel. And I also brought forward 72,000 tonnes of steel for the Adelaide Tarcoola rail line which helps Arrium. Obviously doesn't help Wollongong but it just shows that we are actually using all the levers at our disposals, where it's defence procurement, the tariffs through the 53% tariffs and big infrastructure projects that we control, like rail, to support our steel industry because I, like a lot of Labor people - I'm sure Anthony would agree with me - we don't want to lose the steel-making industries in Australia. Sure there's a steel glut now internationally, because of overproduction from China.

TONY JONES: Okay, we’ve got to keep you to your minute, Christopher.


TONY JONES: That’s all right.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: But that won't be forever so, therefore, we want to make sure it's there after that glut has gone.

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think BlueScope Steel does have a future and it's such an integral part of the Illawarra community that we need to make sure that it not just survives but it's able to grow and prosper into the future. We need to make sure we have a diversified economy and part of that is advanced manufacturing. Part of that is also is what you spoke about with youth unemployment, is investing in our people and diversifying our education base as well. The fact is, I'm very concerned about what's happening with TAFE. Now, I don't blame just the Liberal Party for this or the Labor Party. I think governments of all persuasions frankly have made some mistakes in vocational education and training. I think in terms of we went too far in terms of the private providers, cherry-picking. The Government - the current Government’s policy has led to just quite extraordinary abuses, that I don't think were intended as consequences but they're there and they need to be dealt with but the core of the sector is TAFE, is the public sector and one of the great things about TAFE - I was the Training Shadow Minister a few years ago, and going into the TAFEs, you’d see older men and women passing on the skills that they had to young people and passing on that enthusiasm as well and we need to do far better and I think there's a lot of concentration about tertiary education and universities. I think the real crisis that's going on as well as some of the difficulties there is with the TAFE sector and the vocational education and training sector.

TONY JONES: Okay. You can have a quick response.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, I agree with Anthony, we have got a lot of work to do with vocational education and training. It's grown like topsy. I was the Minister for Education and I had 41 universities. There are something like 4,000 providers of vocational education and training so it's very hard to regulate. There will be bad apples in the system and I think the previous Government, but without sort of naming any names, since we're being happily bipartisan, a previous Government opened up vocational education and training to the higher education contribution scheme which led to a massive blow-out in that debt as well. So whether we're in office or whether Labor is in office, we have all got tough questions to answer and deal with about vocational education and training into the future.

TONY JONES: All right. A certain amount of agreement on that. Now, remember, it’s an election campaign. If you hear any doubtful claims, send a tweet using the hashtags “FactCheck and #QandA.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: There won’t be any doubtful claims.

TONY JONES: Keep an eye on our Twitter account for verdicts. Our next question comes from April Brennan.

APRIL BRENNAN: Last year as Education Minister, you said STEM subjects such as maths and science are vital for our future and should be compulsory for senior students. At the same time, your Government slashed the funding for the CSIRO and, as a result, important jobs there are going, including ones in climate change. What's there for students to aspire to when they're encouraged to study science while a body as successful as the CSIRO is being decimated? Why should we think science and innovation is important if you don't?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, April, with great respect, a couple of facts I need to fix. One is I said that science or maths, not science and maths, should be compulsory in Year 12. I said science or maths subjects or a maths subject and I said that should be done over ten years so, therefore, there should be a long process of implementing that because we believe strongly in science, technology, engineering and maths. Secondly, there are no net job cuts at the CSIRO. That's not factually true. There are 275 jobs going in one division of the CSIRO and 350 new jobs being opened up in another division of the CSIRO. And what Larry Marshall is trying to do at the CSIRO is move from the measurement of climate change to mitigation strategies around climate change. So there's no change to the support for climate change at the CSIRO. The simple fact is he's moving from one part of the CSIRO to another. Secondly, funding for the CSIRO has gone up every year under this Government, as it did under the previous Government. There has been no cut to the CSIRO. And in the national innovation and science agenda, you would have seen that we put $200 million into the CSIRO innovation fund, in fact we created the CSIRO innovation fund in order for them to be able to commercialise the public research in the CSIRO and universities that don't have the capacity to do that themselves. We also put about $79 million into Data61, which is a division of the CSIRO as part of the national innovation and science agenda and about 50-odd million dollars into support for science, technology, engineering and maths from pre-schoolers right through to university students particularly amongst girls and women, so that we don't use the people who are doing science and mathematics at school who then don't go on to do it at university. So they are actually the facts of what we’ve done.

TONY JONES: I’m just going to go to Anthony Albanese straight away.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, the fact is there have been cuts at the CSIRO.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: You better check that.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The fact is people have lost their jobs at the CSIRO.


ANTHONY ALBANESE: And the fact is, one of the areas that's been targeted at the CSIRO is climate change research. You know, one of the things that we should be really proud about as a nation is how innovative we are and one of the ways that that has exhibited itself is in areas of renewable energy in terms of the response to climate change, in terms of climate change analysis, mitigation, all of those areas we're regarded - and the CSIRO is regarded as a world-leading institution. What we also haven't been good at, though, is recognising why that's not just good policy or good science, it's good economics. It's good economics as well to be able to have that research and to have evidence-based policy-making, whether it be on the environment, water, any of the areas that the CSIRO are world leading in and that's why it needs to be cherished as an institution and we shouldn't pretend that they haven't been put under enormous pressure by the current Government.

TONY JONES: Very briefly, has Labor committed to forcing the CSIRO - because it's their decision to make this change - is Labor committed to forcing them to re-employ the climate scientists?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, let's get real here. It was their decision - that's just a nonsense. Institutions which are accountable to the Government are pressured by the Government, and respond to the Government's agenda. When you have a Government that is walking away from serious action and analysis in terms of climate change, then of course the people in charge of the institutions will respond to that. When we have a - we will be a Government that takes climate change seriously.

TONY JONES: So just to go to the question: is the Labor Party committing in Opposition to come back into government, if it gets back into government, and re-employ those climate scientists?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I’m not here, as you know, Tony, to on the run make commitments on behalf of the relevant Shadow Minister.

TONY JONES: Okay. But should they do that?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: And you wouldn't expect that. Of course they should take climate change seriously.

TONY JONES: No, that’s not the question.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: And we should engage with the scientists.

TONY JONES: All right. Christopher Pyne?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Wasn't exactly an ironclad commitment, was it?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Because I'm not the Shadow Minister. Ask me for an Infrastructure...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, because we don’t control the CSIRO. They are an independent organisation.

TONY JONES: Can I just make point, however...


TONY JONES: ...that your Environment Minister was so embarrassed by the decision to sack climate scientists that he actually has been involved in re-employing some 50 of them at the Bureau of Meteorology?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, that's factually not right too. Okay, so let...

TONY JONES: Okay, sorry, well, that's what he told me so what do you say?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Yeah, well, that’s factually - that’s factually not true.

TONY JONES: Okay. What's happening then?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It's factually not true.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: He also said he doesn't support a price on carbon, even though he wrote a thesis on it so...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: What actually happened is that the CSIRO has created a centre for climate change in Hobart, paid for by the CSIRO using CSIRO staff, which will be about 40 people, some of the people who might not have been re-employed as part of Larry Marshall's decisions around moving to mitigation. Paid for by the CSIRO not by the Bureau of Meteorology. They will have a...

TONY JONES: But on the intervention of the Chief Scientist, correct?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, on the - no, not at all but what has happened is, quite sensibly, Alan Finkel, who’s a fantastic Chief Scientist appointed by me, has been working with the CSIRO and others but the Bureau of Meteorology has no role at all in the centre.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Other than to be part of the advisory board picked by myself and Greg Hunt. But the idea that the Bureau of Meteorology is funding that centre is completely factually wrong.

TONY JONES: Okay. Well, we've got the fact on the table now. Thank you very much. Okay, we got a next question. It’s from Leo Coleman.

LEO COLEMAN: Last year, election - I’m sorry. Last year climate policy - sorry, last election climate policy, in particular carbon tax, was the forefront of debate, however, during this election cycle, I haven't heard much about climate policy and climate change that much. However, today, I was pleasantly surprised to be reading and discover about the safeguard mechanism as part of the Coalition's direct action approach to climate change. This safeguard mechanism, according to The Australian, is effectively a cap and trade ETS. Such a program, if utilised effectively, would deliver massive cuts to emissions to meet the 2030 targets of 28% by the Coalition. Why is the Coalition Government being so quiet about this virtual ETS during this election cycle?

TONY JONES: Christopher Pyne?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, we have a lot of different strategies in terms of reducing our emissions and they are working. We have passed - we've met and exceeded our 2020 targets which were quite modest actually and we did that without a carbon tax. Labor, as you know, introduced a carbon tax and they want to reintroduce the carbon tax at a time when obviously our economy, the last thing is needs is a new impost on electricity prices.

TONY JONES: Okay. All right. Now, you’ve made that point but that's actually not the question. The question is whether or not you're actually introducing a virtual ETS. That’s what the question was.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, well, we're not doing that, no.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I mean we have a number of different levers that we are pulling to reduce our emissions through the Direct Action policy. Of course we are continuing - Malcolm has decided to continue ARENA, which was slated to be abolished.

TONY JONES: Okay, but I'm just going to bring you to the point again. I’m sure you're aware of Alan Kohler's piece in The Australian today, which the questioner is referring to. On July 1 the safeguard mechanism within the direct action plan will come into force. 150 companies, the biggest polluters, will have their emissions capped. If they emit less than the cap, they will get carbon credits. If they emit more, they will have to buy carbon credits. That's an emissions trading scheme, isn't it?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, no, it's not an emissions trading scheme and I'm not familiar with Alan Kohler's column and nobody asked me to become familiar with it before the show, so I can't talk about Alan Kohler's column. What I can tell you is that we have a number of different measures including the auctions that we've been using for - international auctions, which have been very successful and we will, I believe, meet our 26 to 28% target, without doing what Labor wants to do, which is bring back a job-destroying carbon tax. Labor also wants to double our...

TONY JONES: So, can I just ask you, if this...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, you keep going.

TONY JONES: If this is as described - if it is as described an emissions trading scheme, would you oppose it?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, I'm not accepting the premise of your question that it's an emissions trading scheme. So no, I'm not accepting that premise of that question.

TONY JONES: All right, Anthony Albanese, let's bring you in.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, we should have an emissions trading scheme and we should stop the ridiculous, childish debate that we just saw of trying to say that Labor's bringing back a carbon tax, because we're not. We're not. We will have an emissions trading scheme and in terms of - it's a closed scheme in terms of electricity, and a sector by sector scheme that will ensure that the market can operate to make sure we reduce our emissions at the least cost. The fact is that the reason why we're meeting our targets in terms of 2020 is because of the actions of the former Government. Emissions have actually - are going up and in terms of the renewable energy sector we saw an absolute collapse. We saw a collapse of some 88% of investment, at least, disappear. And the renewable energy sector crying out for certainty and in the end, we got there and we were prepared to compromise to ensure that the sector could actually survive and be in some state to rebuild for the future. But we're very proud of the fact that we have a 50% Renewable Energy Target by 2030. That we've adopted the targets that are recommended by the Climate Change Authority in terms of the emission reductions that will be required to ensure that global warming doesn't hit that critical above 2 degrees Celsius increase in the future that's defined as dangerous climate change. And we want to once again engage with the global community. What we have, I think, is incredibly disappointing; that if there's one area people could have expected some change in from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull, it's the area of climate change. And, essentially, we don't have any change of policy in that area.

TONY JONES: Can I just make...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, CFC is not going to be abolished. ARENA is not going to be abolished.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Because you couldn't get it through the Senate, that's why.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: And the mad thing about Labor's policy, Labor is acting like the Paris convention didn't happen. Labor's just acting like there hasn't been an international agreement reached at Paris around carbon emission reduction. The truth is that Labor's policy of increasing the reductions to 50% removes all of our leverage internationally and we've already reduced our emissions per capita more than any other country in the developing world, the developed world.

TONY JONES: Okay. Christopher we've gone beyond the issue of the question. I will just simply make this point to Anthony Albanese about the question: Labor and the Greens in the last day of Parliament in December last year both voted for Greg Hunt's version of a cap and trade scheme, so you must support it?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I didn't see Alan Kohler's article, nor did Christopher.

TONY JONES: All right.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: And if you wanted us to comment on it, you might've told us in the green room.

TONY JONES: Okay. You can't be expected to read everything during an election campaign. The next question comes from Facebook. It's a response from tonight's Four Corners program. It's from Lucy Ashley. “Can both Christopher and Anthony explain why we should trust either party after the donations scandal exposed tonight on Four Corners?” Now, a lot of this has been out of the news today. So, Christopher, start with you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, I believe that people should be allowed to donate to whatever political party that they support and I've always said that those donations should be limited to individuals, not from unions and business. I've been saying that for many years but I'm also of the view that the union movement donates obviously exclusively to the Labor Party and the Greens. Actually the Greens' biggest donor is the CMFEU and the CMFEU obviously give to the Labor Party too. So the Liberal Party, if it's to actually be competitive, needs to be able to raise donations from people that support it and that happily happens to be from individuals and from the business community. There are lots of regulations around donations to political parties. They change from State to State and nationally, which makes it confusing but as a national member of the - as a member of the national Parliament, I have always abided by whatever the rules have been. If they've changed I have abided by the changed rules.

TONY JONES: Should the rules change when they relate to entities, that is money that's given to entities and then spent during election campaigns outside of the normal rules?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Look, people should abide by the rules and if they don't abide by the rules then they will get caught and they’ll get into trouble. Now, that should apply to the business community. It should apply to the union movement. It should apply to cosy sweetheart deals that are made by, you know, various current political figures to have staff on their campaigns that don't appear on the register of interests and don't appear on the declarations after the elections. All of those things. You know, if people want to take risks they will get into trouble. My view is I have more than enough support to run a decent campaign. If that support is smaller I run a smaller campaign and if it's larger I run a larger campaign.

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Transparency is the key and that's why we support declaration of any donation above $1,000. That was what we had. It was then increased under the Coalition. We've tried a number of times. The Coalition and the Greens voted against that during the debate about Senate reform. We thought that was one of the things that should've occurred in terms of electoral reform. And that is - but I think people need to know where it's going. The problem that has happened - I assume the Four Corners program would've indicated what happened in New South Wales, which was essentially money being funnelled through entities in order to either hide the donations where they were coming from or, in some cases, the Liberal Party received donations from entities that weren't allowed to donate because of what Labor did here in New South Wales under Nathan Rees, which was to...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Which was a State issue.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Which was to knock out - that's right but it went through the Federal party, flushing funds through, back in to be used in election campaigns. I think that creates a lot of anger in the system. People should know where the money comes from and people should be able to be held to account for it. I mean, I hold functions in my electorate. I did a big dinner with Bob Hawke for my 20th anniversary. That's been my major fundraiser. We took ads out in the local paper, clearly indicating it was a fundraiser.

TONY JONES: Was that an ad on the front page of The Daily Telegraph that said "Save our Albo"?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, that wasn't paid for. That was a decision that they made and one that surprised me as much as many others.

TONY JONES: Okay, let's move on. Our next question is from Joseph Faggion.

JOSEPH FAGGION: Mr Peter Dutton's comments last week regarding illiterate and innumerate refugees being a drain on Australia's welfare system and economy set another example of a government that is out of touch and, furthermore, is the Liberal Party just generally super-embarrassed whenever that guy talks?

TONY JONES: Christopher Pyne, as to Peter Dutton?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, I do thank you for the question, because it's important to really nail this canard. What Peter Dutton was asked about was whether he agreed with the Greens' policy to increase the refugee intake from about 14,000 to 50,000. So Labor's policy is to double it. The Greens' policy is to essentially quadruple it and he was making the point that settlement services for refugees, if you're going to have a refugee program - which we should have, and we should have a generous one, and we do have a generous one, but I think it should be generous - you actually have to bring refugees to Australia and then settle them successfully, and that's a very costly business because, as he pointed out, most of them don't have English literacy and numeracy skills. Most of them come from broken countries, because they're escaping war-torn situations usually and persecution, where they haven't necessarily gained the kind of work skills that we would like them to have. So, therefore, it costs a great deal of money to have those settlement services and he was making the point that if you increase that to 50,000, someone has to pay for that. He wasn't in the least bit trying to talk down refugees. We've had a very good and decent refugee system in Australia since the Second World War, the second most generous in the world, one that I strongly support and refugees have made a fantastic contribution to this country. In my electorate, I have a lot of Italian - second and third generation Italians here and first generation still. Since the Second World War, they've made a magnificent contribution to our country.

TONY JONES: But is it a problem, as Mr Dutton seemed to be suggesting, that they will take Australian jobs?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, I think that the media reacted and sort of spun that into something that was an anti-refugee statement when, in fact, it was simply responding to the Greens' call for a 50,000 refugee intake.

TONY JONES: I'm talking about what he actually said.



CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, I think it was spun out of context.

TONY JONES: He said they'll take Australian jobs. Is that a problem? I mean, I thought if they become Australians as refugees they'd be in their right to have an Australian job. In fact you'd probably want them...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, we want...

TONY JONES: You’d want them to, wouldn't you, have Australian jobs?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I believe that - I believe that refugees - I'm a high-population man, right, so I'm in favour of a higher population so...

TONY JONES: But, just quickly, do you want refugees to have Australian jobs?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, I believe that refugees and other migrants, skilled migrants, have a about a 4 point factor on themselves for creating jobs and work. So I think the higher population we have, the more skilled migrants and refugees we have, the greater the economy will grow, which means jobs and growth.

TONY JONES: Okay. All right. I’m going to bring you in in a second. We’ve just got another question on this subject. It’s from Fred Speer. Go ahead.

FRED SPEER: With many of our veterans suffering and being living on the streets that have been chucked aside by the defence forces, Mr Albanese, how do you intend to pay for the refugees that are coming to this country when we're suffering in massive debt and the debt has been quoted at $316 billion?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, can I say this in response to both questions: if Peter Dutton had given the answer that Christopher Pyne just gave, there wouldn't be an issue. There wouldn't an issue. There was an issue because he was dog-whistling. He was dog-whistling in order to seek political advantage and in order to change the conversation of the federal election campaign, because there are some people on the conservative side of politics who say if you talk about migration and asylum seekers, then it will advantage the Coalition, regardless of the content of the conversation, the conversation itself. There would be people in the Liberal Party brains trust who'd be suggesting that that's the case and Peter Dutton did it quite well. With regard to your question, the problem is it assumes that it's just a cost. If you look at refugees who've come to this country to give a couple of big examples, Frank Lowy and Victor Chang, but there are many others as well, who come to this country and make a contribution, don't just assist themselves and their families, but have assisted our national economy. I look at the extraordinary contribution that people who came here from Vietnam just a few decades ago, most of them, post 1974-5, and the contribution that they are making as doctors, as dentists, as teachers, as parents, as community leaders, is extraordinary in my electorate and it's extraordinary around the country. That is the country that we are, and unless you’re an Indigenous Australian, you're the son or daughter or grandson or granddaughter of a migrant and migrants have built this country.

TONY JONES: Okay. You get a brief response to the allegations it was a dog-whistling event?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, you know, I go back to my previous answer. I think Peter Dutton was much maligned. I think the press leapt all over his statement and twisted it. I think the truth is that he was simply responding to a call by the Greens to massively increase the refugee intake. I agree with Anthony that, of course, we're all migrants except for Indigenous Australians and migrants have built one of the greatest countries in the world and Peter Dutton would agree with that.

TONY JONES: Okay. Let’s go to our next question. It's from Nicola Dowse.

NICOLA DOWSE: It's been suggested that in in election, the Greens will present a major challenge to Labor seats. While I’ve traditionally supported many of the policies of Labor, a key issue for me and many other young people this election is asylum seekers. Why should I vote for anyone but the Greens, when the alternatives of Labor and the Coalition both support the cruel, essentially indefinite and UN-condemned policies of offshore detention?

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I believe that you can be tough on people smugglers without being weak on humanity. There were issues - when I became a minister, I thought that the issue of pull, as well as push, factors when it came to asylum seekers - I underestimated that. I got it wrong. I got it wrong. We had a position that was simply unsustainable. And we could not sustain the fact that more than 1,000 people were coming, risking their lives by boat to try to get to Australia towards the end of our term in office. So we want to stop the people smuggling trade. We don't want it to start up again but we want to also treat people humanely, which is why we want to remove the incentive by doubling the intake, by engaging with the UNHCR. We will increase funding to $450 million. That will make us the fifth largest donor in the world as the 12th largest economy. We want to engage to make sure that people don't have to - that people have - people want hope. If you give them hope of going through orderly processes and being processed in Indonesia or Malaysia or in Afghanistan or Africa, where they are, without risking their lives, then you will have a process that I think, through the UN, by engaging with the UN, will produce far better outcomes. And when people have to actually sit down and go through the issues of how they will solve them - I mean, Sarah Hanson-Young wrote a piece in October last year on the Mamamia site where they spoke about people being processed in Indonesia and Malaysia. There were a range of things in that article that I agree with, some I don't, but it's a complex area. It's a complex issue and it's one that Labor would deal with, but we wouldn't deal with it...

TONY JONES: Okay. I’m going to interrupt you just to put you back to the question, which was about the people in indefinite detention as...

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, people should not be in indefinite detention.

TONY JONES: Okay. So you talked about hope. Now, the people on Manus and Nauru effectively have no hope.


TONY JONES: In fact to such a degree that several of them have self-immolated and 13, I think, have committed suicide. So your response to that? What would Labor do about that?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, that's a tragedy, and no one could not be affected by that but what you need to do is not have people in indefinite detention. In terms of Manus and Nauru, the people who've been found to be refugees need to be settled in third countries. The way that you do that is by engaging with the UNHCR to ensure that those proper processes can occur.

TONY JONES: New Zealand is a third country. Would you accept New Zealand as a location? They've already said they would take some of these people?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, there are a range of countries that are possibilities. Canada, for example, is an obvious one.

TONY JONES: And New Zealand or not?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, Canada is an obvious one.

TONY JONES: Is New Zealand an obvious one?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, New Zealand might be as well but that would be up to the migration minister of the day to negotiate those arrangements through.

TONY JONES: All right. Christopher Pyne, I think we know most of your positions on this, but briefly?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, I will try not repeat previous answers but I will try to answer your particular question. The reason you shouldn't vote for the Greens on this issue - there’s two reasons you shouldn't vote for the Greens. One, because we don't need the kind of instability that we had under the previous Government in the Gillard era, where the Greens were part of the alliance with the Labor Party; and we know the Greens have already said that they're going to go back into alliance with Labor, which means a carbon tax, higher taxes, open borders. But the second reason you shouldn't vote for the Greens is because we tried the Greens' policy before, and it didn't work, when Labor was last in office. So the people smuggling trade was reopened again and there's nothing humane about 50,000 people coming here by boat in the dangerous position that they put themselves in, some of them dying at sea, paying people smugglers. There's nothing humane about that. So I hear the Greens and their compassion about the asylum seekers but, honestly, the most compassionate thing you can do is have a generous refugee system that is orderly, has a process, and looks after everyone in the world, not just those that can pay people smugglers, and stops the people smugglers from putting people in that kind of danger.

TONY JONES: Okay, I’m going to move on. The next question is a video. It’s from Steve Kelly in Carlton, Victoria.

STEVE KELLY: Why has the Coalition adopted the socialist welfare state Labor ideology? Why has it lowered itself to the same level? Why has it taken the executioner's axe to the superannuation savings of older Australian citizens, people without a voice, people you can sacrifice and dispense with, people that are - or should I say were - your most loyal, conservative supporters, and the greatest contributors to the growth in wealth across this nation?

TONY JONES: Christopher Pyne, you can't underestimate the anger of this small group of superannuants that you're taxing?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, 96% of superannuants are unaffected by the Government changes. 96%. 4% of people are affected. They are very high wealth individuals. 96% of superannuants have no change at all to their incomes. There will be a 15% - one five per cent - increase in tax on future earnings for that 4%. So we're talking about high wealth individuals. Now, there has been some scaring of self-funded retirees and I represent a lot of self-funded retirees in my electorate but when I explain to them that you actually have to have over $1.6 million of assets in your superannuation fund, and you really effectively need to be earning over $80,000 to pay any tax, they suddenly realise that they might've been sold a pup. So you have to have $1.6 million of assets. Above that you pay 15% on the income from it. Now that is not a lot to ask at a time when we need more revenue.

TONY JONES: But just obviously on this question of retrospectivity or otherwise, how do you explain to someone who has more than that - we're talking about a tiny group of people true but they're a very angry tiny group of people, as you can see - how do you explain to people who have more than $1.6 million in their superannuation that it’s going to be taxed at 15%, everything above that? Now that is not - that is retrospective?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No it's not. That’s a...

TONY JONES: Because presumably they believed that the amount that they had been able to amass was going to be tax free?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, retrospectivity would've been - would have been charging them 15% on past earnings. That would be retrospectivity. Now, you’re mangling the English language if you say that it is retrospective to increase tax on future earnings. It's like saying if they have an income tax cut, which we have in the budget for middle income earners, that somehow that shouldn't apply to current income taxpayers, it should only apply to future income taxpayers.

TONY JONES: Okay. All right. Let’s go to Anthony Albanese. You’ve made the case it's retrospective. Do you want to essentially support the richest 1% in super?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, our concern is that changes shouldn't be retrospective. So it's not in terms of - if we were doing it again and we every been saying for some period of time that this issue needed to be addressed. Indeed, much of what the Government has done is our policy, both at the high end but also at the low end of the low-income superannuation contribution, which we welcome the fact that the Government, having cut it, after we established it, is putting it back.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: You mean the LISTO, the low income superannuation tax offset.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Is putting it back.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: We're bringing it back.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Of course, Labor's policy too by the way, Tony, is to actually tax people on both the accumulation and the retirement phase. So if you vote Labor and you put Bill Shorten back in, you’ll be taxed at both the accumulation and the retirement phase.

TONY JONES: Whereas you’re only going to tax people once after they've retired.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: After $1.6 million of assets.

TONY JONES: Okay, fair enough. Next question is from Sarah Riley. A very different subject.

SARAH RILEY: Last week's AFP raids once again brought the delay of the NBN to the forefront. So with the delay of the roll-out of the NBN, with the money paid to Telstra and also with the less than desirable technical outcome of the hybrid copper solution, does the Government regret the political decision that it's made not to persist with the original fibre to premises roll-out?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Absolutely not. And there has not been a delay of the NBN. If Labor's policy was - if Labor was still in power, the NBN would not be being delivered for four years longer than it would be under Malcolm Turnbull's management. When we took office in 2013, there were 55,000 customers of the NBN. There are now 955,000. We are - Labor had missed their targets by 83%. They had no idea how much it was costing. Because of Malcolm Turnbull's management of the NBN, it will all be finished by 2020, not 2024 as Labor was promising, with speeds that people want and need. They simply didn't need the speed that Labor was promising but it was costing an absolute bomb. This will cost $30 billion less but it will be cheaper to consumers, it will be cheaper to the taxpayer, it will be delivered faster to the Australian consumer, and at speeds that they want and need.

TONY JONES: So they didn't need the speeds Labor was promising?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, they didn't.

TONY JONES: What speed do they need?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, the speed that they will have, you’ll be able to watch five full-length movies in the same household if you all want to at the same time.

TONY JONES: Okay, now the...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Which is a lot of movies!

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: That's a lot of television ...(indistinct)...

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The NBN isn't about movies. It's about our economy and how it functions.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: But I'm just demonstrating how big it will be.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: And Malcolm Turnbull's fraud-band is double the cost of what it said - what he said it would be, it is half the speed of what he said it would be and the delay is extraordinary. He promised - I was the minister before the election. He promised that in 2016 everyone in Tasmania would have the NBN in their home. If you're watching this on Tasmania - in Tasmania and next time your little device is buffering, blame Malcolm Turnbull. Blame Malcolm Turnbull because he made a very clear and unequivocal promise. And, you know, in the 21st century, surely we can do better than what the Government has had to do is go out there and purchase 1,500,000, or 1,800,000, I think it is, metres of copper, in the 21st century. This is 19th century stuff. And, you know, when we said that he was going to produce copper to the home, we didn't think it was literally, but that's what happened last week. The police raids, as a result of the NBN complaints - complaints - trying to hide what was going on, information that every Australian has a right to know.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, this opens a new front. And that is, of course...

TONY JONES: Coppers to the home.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: ...Labor's response to this was to actually attack the integrity of the Australian Federal Police.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: That was Labor's response, to attack the integrity of the Australian Federal Police, in spite of the fact the AFP had said that there was absolutely no government involvement whatsoever. Bill Shorten went on the attack and said actually - he attacked the AFP.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That's rubbish. Let's be very clear here.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: The Australian Federal Police.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The excuse here was that the NBN made the complaint but Malcolm Turnbull, when he came in, sacked the chairman of the board, sacked the majority of the board...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: But it wasn't working.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: …sacked the CEO, sacked....

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: You missed 83% of your targets.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: ...sacked most executive.


ANTHONY ALBANESE: How's it working for you?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It's working very well.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s a disaster.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: 955,000 customers.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That's why you're having to raid people.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: You had 55,000 customers.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That's absurd.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It’s disastrous.

TONY JONES: I think we’ll have to leave it up to people to decide whether they're happy with the NBN.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I think they’re ...(indistinct)...

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Whether they want first rate...

TONY JONES: Or not happy with the NBN.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: First-rate fibre or second-rate copper.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: You’re in Conrovia with Stephen Conroy. I thought you weren't on his team!

TONY JONES: Okay. There’s time for one last question. It comes from Damien Huxley.

DAMIEN HUXLEY: America is in an election cycle and Donald Trump is coming out with things like "We're going to build a wall around the country. We're going to get rid of the”...

FEMALE SPEAKER: Fair trade agreement.

DAMIEN HUXLEY: Fair trade agreement. Our politicians, are you going to be like that? Are we going to - are we going to end up with politicians that are going to just play this game of being negative all the time? We want someone that's going to actually be a positive and be a statesman.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, can I just say that Malcolm Turnbull is not being a populist. There are people in this election campaign who are being populists and they are promising people absolutely everything that they want to hear. I'm not talking about Bill Shorten on this occasion when it comes to money. I'm talking about a whole lot of other issues, and Anthony might want to comment on that as well. The point is Malcolm Turnbull is saying we have to live within our means. We have to have a jobs and growth focus with innovation, with defence industry, with the free trade agreements, sustainable budgets, small business tax cuts, income tax cuts for families and still support health, education, so nobody is behaving like Donald Trump ...(indistinct)...

DAMIEN HUXLEY: It’s not - it’s not...

TONY JONES: I’m sorry, he’s got - I’m sorry, he’s got his hand back up again.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, nobody is behaving like Donald Trump in the Liberal Party.

TONY JONES: Just let our questioner get back in.

DAMIEN HUXLEY: Sorry, you're taking that the wrong way. What I'm saying is that I want the politicians to work together to build a solution. At the moment, we're all fighting each other and not actually working together to build a government. That's why we end up voting for people like Donald Trump.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Anthony and I have been working together tonight. This is working together.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, I think it's a good point that you make. And one of the criticisms that will come up occasionally of myself and Christopher's appearance on Friday mornings on another network...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Ha, ha, ha, ha.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Is it seems like you talk to each other and you like as other, as if that's a problem. I actually think that politicians need to engage with each other, need to try to find common interests, need to move away from slogans and simple solutions. In terms of - I think that was one of Malcolm Turnbull's appeals, where his popularity went through the stratosphere. Let's be clear. I mean he was extraordinarily popular, because he said he'd treat Australians like adults, to go back to the first question. And I think Australians are looking for that. Are looking for substance and are looking for as much unity as possible rather than people trying to come up with other things.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Sounds like a leadership pitch.

TONY JONES: So, Anthony, can I ask you this, since you're on this...

ANTHONY ALBANESE: See what happens when you're nice to him?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Caught you. I caught you out.

TONY JONES: Since you're on a working-together kind of binge here, what about the Greens? Can you work together with them because they want more than just an alliance with the Labor Party? They want a Coalition and they're talking about having ministries in a future government.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, they don't.

TONY JONES: Will you - yes, they do. That's what they say.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, they don’t. They want to replace us. That's what they say and when you look at the Greens and the things that they represent, they don't have to actually ever deliver anything. They can promise the world, because there's no dollars attached. There's no fiscal responsibility. And, in terms of their objective, I think have a look at where they're concentrating their campaigns. They launched their campaign in my electorate. You know, maybe most people I think would think if you wanted to move the Parliament to the left, I'm not the most right-wing person in the Parliament, but that's who they're targeting. Spending very little time attacking the Coalition and because that's their objective. They're objective is to try to take over a few inner-city seats but that won't change things. So the best example is, which is relevant for my electorate...

TONY JONES: We're over time, so keep it brief.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Okay. Airport. We support a second airport at Badgerys Creek. That's an area whereby Government and Opposition are together, supporting jobs and economic growth in Western Sydney. The Greens support closing down Kingsford Smith but they oppose Badgerys Creek as well.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: We can parachute in.


ANTHONY ALBANESE: We can parachute in but I don't know how you get out.

TONY JONES: Christopher Pyne, I will give you the last word here and I’ll ask whether maybe you're on a kind of an alliance ticket with Anthony Albanese on this question of ‘Saving Our Albo’, which is what The Telegraph said on their front page.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I think Anthony makes another good point. I mean, he really has made some great points tonight. One of the best points that he’s made is that only the Liberal Party and the Labor Party can deliver. We're the only people that can form government so Independents, minor party, Greens, populist politicians, they can promise the world because they know they never have to deliver it and so I would be advocating a vote for the Liberal Party every day of the week. But I'd ask people to think very carefully about whether they want the chaos of a Greens/Independent/Labor Government formed like there it was in the Gillard period. We really need to have stable, consistent government into the future and that means supporting one of the major parties.

TONY JONES: Okay. I will make the point very briefly that those Independents in the Senate did stop a lot of your policies which proved to be quite unpopular.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, they stopped us keeping our promises.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: So that wasn't actually keeping the bastards honest, which is the point of Don Chipp and the Democrats. It was actually stopping us from keeping our promises.

TONY JONES: Okie dokie.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: So if that’s a good thing, that’s not the idea.

TONY JONES: We’ll...

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I'm not sure you promised to cut education and health though so...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: We didn't. We didn’t cut them. See, now you have gone off the railings again.

TONY JONES: That's all we have time for tonight. We'll end on a sort of almost note of agreement. Please thank our panellists, Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese.


Thank you very much. Next Monday, we will be broadcast live from the Brisbane Powerhouse, when Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will face your questions. Last year he was written off as a man who'd never make it but now, with the election in sight, he's a genuine contender. Next Monday on Q&A you will have a chance to test the man who wants to lead the nation. Until then, goodnight. 00:38:24