Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Shadow Minister and former Minister discuss pensioners and 2020 Summit; wealth distribution; Rudd government performance; and party fundraising [excerpts]



Download PDFDownload PDF

Hon Christopher Pyne MP

Shadow Minister for Justice & Border Protection Shadow Minister Assisting the Shadow Minister for Immigration & Citizenship Federal Member for Sturt

ABC 891 SA Radio

Excerpts of “Two Chrisses” 28th April 2008, 10am (CST)

Journalist:

(Raises yesterdays Sunday Mail Column, claiming that some would find criticism of the Rudd Government not including issues that mention Pensioners in the 2020 Summit as being a bit rich.)

Pyne:

The statistics will tell you that the greatest income distribution under the Howard Government was from the most wealthy to the least wealthy over that ten year period, so in fact, the statistics about the Howard Government are not that the redistribution went to the highest echelons, it actually went to the lowest, and that is irrefutable statistical evidence from the Australian Bureau of Statistics…

Journalist:

(Mentions Natasha Stott Despoja saying that the gap between rich and poor has grown, but concedes he is aware of contrary evidence.)

Pyne:

It’s an easy thing for people to say, but actually the facts and the statistics indicate exactly the opposite, because what the Howard Government actually did through Family Tax Benefit part A and B, through the maternity allowance, and the baby bonus through to raising the tax free thresholds all the time - that redistributed income to the poorest Australians - to the extent that a lot of the self funded retirees weren’t paying any tax at

all until they were earning $21,000 a year by the time we left office. For those people who are unable to make more money because they’ve retired, or are pensioners - we’ve redistributed income to these people over that ten year period.

Journalist:

Well there are some people who would say that was just a lot of middleclass welfare?

Pyne:

Well it depends what you regard as the middle class, I think people earning less than $20,000 would regard themselves as being those amongst the community with the least.

Journalist:

A lot was handed out to people earning more than $20,000…

Pyne:

I think one of the things about a successful government is that if you can run a budget surplus, not raise taxes and redistribute money back to most Australians, that is a very successful government, and I think economically we were a very successful government.

Journalist:

Chris Pyne, you did write about the Rudd Government as being mean-spirited, but they haven’t even had their first budget yet which will be the test and they’ve only been in office a few months?

Pyne:

What I was saying in my column yesterday were a couple of things. The 2020 Summit was essentially about getting together Labor fellow travellers and supporters and talking about their biases for the future. Where was the debate about pensioners and self-funded retirees, older Australians, carers and the disabled? The Labor Party holds itself out as the party for the most disadvantaged Australians, but there weren’t too many disadvantaged Australians at the Summit two weekends ago, and what they came up with was the sort of things you’d expect from, not being disparaging, the café latte set that now support the Labor Party. My column was about the fact that the people doing it toughest in Australia are the pensioners, and the self funded retirees, carers and the disabled, but if you read the communiqué out of the Summit it was all about things like the republic, exercise for sedentary workers and these type of things. Where was the

meat on the bones for the people who are actually doing it tough? It just wasn’t there. I think the Summit will prove to be a great milestone around Kevin Rudd’s neck, and I’ve noticed how some of the commentators and columnists have started writing that the Summit was all feathers and no meat… Six months into the new Government and

they’re so busy talking, and I think people are going to get very frustrated that this Government’s not doing anything to improve their life, they’ve put up taxes on alco-pops, these things are easy, George Megalogenis describes Kevin Rudd as the Federal Premier where everything is all spin cycle, marketing and PR, and it’s true! Australia has

a 20 million population, 13th biggest economy in the world, 11th biggest defence spender in the world, it’s a serious country.

Caller:

(SA regional caller attended Summit and found it inspiring.)

Pyne:

As I said last Monday, criticising the summit inevitably leads people to say you’re against new ideas. I’m glad the (caller) enjoyed the summit, and I’m happy she has rain.

I’m fascinated that in the (Summit) communiqué there was nothing about the Murray-Darling basin. I would have thought drought and fixing the water for the Mallee and Adelaide would have been a high priority… On the wider issue (of how representative the Summit was), I’ll give you an example, there were 100 people in the governance section of the Summit, of that 99 voted in favour of a republic and one voted against it - George Brandis - I don’t think that really represents Australian thinking. I’m a republican sure, but I don’t think 99 out of 100 Australians are in favour of a republic.

Caller:

(Asks why the only news out of the Summit seemed to be the republic and asks why there weren’t more things mentioned.)

Pyne:

Well there was a column in the Australian on Friday, by a senior public servant from New South Wales, very brave and courageous I thought….definitely a CLM (career limiting move), she wrote a column about the Summit, she works in a Labor Government obviously, she actually listed all the things they said about children and the things that came out of the Summit about looking after children and it was all complete “beaurocratese”. She made the point that the one of the things that was important about children today was trying to protect them from sexual exploitation and abuse, and it was not even mentioned in the communiqué out of the Summit. I think that underlines why people say I am being churlish, actually I’m just frustrated that people are saying all these things came out of the Summit when even a NSW Senior Public Servant…wrote a scathing column about child sexual exploitation on the weekend in Friday’s Australian saying what about the obvious thing (of child sexual abuse)? And that’s why I wrote my column for the Sunday Mail. If the Summit was going to achieve anything then surely it would have had representatives there from pensioners and self-funded retirees, I mean what about Jay Weatherill’s decision last week to charge the disabled for their equipment? These people are really doing it tough, the carers and the disabled.

Journalist:

(Raises fundraising issue in the media about Labor Ministers being used as drawcards for $1000 plus per head functions.)

Pyne:

I think it is very clear what should happen with political donations. The public are thoroughly sick of seeing tens of millions of dollars being spent on election campaigns. Politicians and candidates are spending too long pouring over direct mail letters rather than getting out door knocking and meeting people. I think we should ban all political donations from individuals, corporations and the union movement, and the political parties should be required to rely on the $2.10 they get per vote at the election campaign. It means there would be a lot less money spent on election campaigns.

Journalist:

It would also entrench the existing parties wouldn’t it?

Pyne:

Well there would have to be a mechanism for new parties, which I’m sure isn’t beyond the wit of legislators, but it would mean, rather than spending large amounts of money,

you would only be able to spend what you had and you’d be able to get out a lot more and meet a lot more people. I’ve already started doorknocking in my electorate. I enjoy doorknocking and meeting people, going to supermarkets and public meetings, old fashioned campaigning, and then we won’t have to worry about it being raised on Matt and Dave on a Monday morning because it won’t be allowed to happen at all.

Media Contact: Adam Howard

Media Adviser

0400 414 833