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Transcript of interview with Keith Conlon and Jane Reilly: 5AA Radio: 26 August 2013: negative campaigning; Coalition launch; election costings

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The Hon Christopher Pyne MP Coalition Campaign Spokesman Shadow Minister for Education, Apprenticeships and Training

Monday 26 August 2013

5AA Radio with Keith Conlon and Jane Reilly

Subjects: Negative campaigning; Coalition launch; election costings



Good morning Keith, good morning Jane.


You are a regular on that. I suppose it’s because you give?


I don’t know why Q&A asks me on so often. I’ve been on about 18 times or 16 times or something. I think it’s because I have a bit of fun with it. I enjoy it and I like to spar a bit with the audience and get my message out to the public, because as you know Keith, that’s what politics is all about.


Yeah, and with the election launch yesterday by your leader, Tony Abbott, he was followed by, Julie Bishop the Deputy, and she came on pretty strong. Here she is:

JULIE BISHOP: The trouble with Kevin is he’s a fake! All these multiple personalities! He’s cool and funky Kevin - he’s cooking with gas. He wants you to think he’s ocker Kevin. He wants you to think he’s nerdy Kevin. He wants you to think that he’s pious Kevin. But then there’s bad tempered Kevin. You see there’s arrogant Kevin. There’s abusive Kevin. He reminds me of the Incredible Hulk.


That made me feel very uncomfortable watching that yesterday afternoon. I thought this campaign was not meant to be about being negative. That was a very negative statement that the Deputy Leader, Julie Bishop made. What do you say to that?


Well Jane, it was the warm up speech before the main event, which of course was Tony Abbott outlining part of our vision for the future and I think it was supposed to be light-hearted, and it was pretty light-hearted, but I think there was a serious point there and that was that Kevin Rudd would have people believe that he is there for them, but the truth is that Kevin Rudd thinks the election is about him - he thinks it’s all about his re-election and his vengeance against Julia Gillard. It’s quite a dark story and I think that’s the message she was trying to convey.


It does probably invite something similar, from their side about Tony Abbott though doesn’t it?


Well what Tony Abbott tried to do yesterday, and what he has tried to do throughout the last three years, is highlight the failures of the government, which are hurting people through cost of living increases, through losing their jobs, through the fact that our borders are basically porous under this government. But outline how we would fix it. So we will abolish the carbon tax, abolish the mining tax, reduce the company tax and of course bring back firm border protection measures. So of course Labor has already been running a negative campaign against Tony Abbott and Labor has thrown everything including the kitchen sink at him and Kevin Rudd said two weeks ago that he wanted a positive campaign, it’s been wall to wall negative for the last two weeks.


With the launch yesterday we saw some more promises, the apprentice scheme for instance, changes to the senior’s card, some money for Alzheimer’s, it raises the question again though, where does the money come from?


Well these policy announcements yesterday are, and the HECS plan for apprentices of course, is a very good idea about getting Certificate 3 and 4 apprentices finishing their jobs because at the moment only 48 per cent of apprentices get their Certificate 3 and 4 finish (inaudible)… it’s not grotesquely expensive but it is a very important measure because of course the apprentices will have to pay that back over time, just like university students have to do with their higher education contribution scheme. So we recognise that apprentices and university students should be a put on a par together and apprentices should be given exactly the same kind of support that university students are given.


To the big picture still, independent analysts think that your short fall at this stage is at least $30 billion, where does the money come from? What cuts have to be put in place to, the realist fact of the matter is that you are going to have to cut aren’t you?


Well between now and probably mid next week, certainly we’ve said we will announce our costings, well before the night before Election Day, so by next week people will see our full bottom line. What we said yesterday is that over the next 10 years we want to deliver one per cent of the GPD being a surplus budget so that we can pay back debt. Labor has left us with a massive debt, almost $400 billion gross debt. The five biggest deficits in Australia’s history our record under Howard and Costello, Keith, is that we paid that back, that we put money in the bank and we left it there for Labor and they spent it.


When we go back through history, we know don’t we that sort of, that they are words that can be splashed around and used to scare people. How many years did Bob Menzies run a deficit? Almost every year of his career, and he is regarded as one of the great conservative Prime Ministers.


Well deficits are not good budgeting now, and what was good in the 50s and 60s is not necessarily good in the 21st century and what is very important is that we take pressure off the economy by stopping the government from competing against the private sector for borrowings in the market and we need to reduce government spending. Especially because, and you’ll be shocked to hear that we spend $11.2 billion a year on interest alone on the debt that Labor has racked up. That would be 10 full teaching hospitals, if we built 10 more hospitals, which would cover the enormous interest alone on the debt that Labor has racked up in just six years.


Mr Pyne what is the strategy in leaving the costings till the last minute. It makes people think that it’s going to be very bad news.


Well Labor released their costings in 2007 and 2010 at five o’clock the night before the election, Jane. Now we are not going to do that, but nor are we going to be lectured by the Labor Party about this issue, they have absolutely no credibility on it whatsoever. But what we have said, is that we will release all of our policies and then we will release all our final costings. Because you can’t obviously cost things that haven’t been released. So the costings are almost always the final document that is released during an election campaign and it will be no different in this election.


Christopher Pyne where to for you today?


Well I’m happily here in Adelaide, Keith. I’m in Sturt campaigning in my electorate as I was on the weekend when we announced the Campbelltown Leisure Centre $7.5 million contribution from a future Coalition Government which would make that centre happen. It would be fantastic for the eastern and north eastern suburbs and that will be welcomed by basketballers and netballers and swimmers and squash players and seniors across my electorate. So I’m very happy to be home today campaigning.


Thanks very much Christopher Pyne, who was speaking for the Liberal campaign as we face 12 more days to go.

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