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Transcript of interview with Kieran Gilbert: Sky News AM Agenda: 10 July 2018: Mark Latham; preselection; gun law reform

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SUBJECTS: Mark Latham; Preselection; Gun law reform.

GILBERT: A fired up Richo. Brendan O’Connor your thoughts?


WORKPLACE RELATIONS: Well what a spectacle. I think it’s fair to say that the

political fall from grace for Mark Latham is now complete. The fact that he is willing

to be used by One Nation and Pauline Hanson really says it all.

In fact, given his conduct, and given, really, his betrayal of his party and his

principles over many years I’d be worried if he was giving me a good character

reference. So we don’t really care so much about what he thinks. It is a really sad

thing to see a former Labor leader fall so far and move so far away from their

principles and values.

GILBERT: When it comes to the political reality though in Longman, does it have a

negative impact for your efforts there, given what seems like a pretty strong, I

would say core of support for One Nation, it’s almost into double figures there in

terms of polling?

O’CONNOR: Well, firstly I think we need to continue to make clear to the

electorate of Longman, and indeed the broader electorate that One Nation has

been voting with the Liberal Party now for 90 per

cent of its time in Parliament, and pretty much acts as a subsidiary of the Liberal


We need to keep arguing on just what Pauline Hanson does rather than what she

says. She says one thing in Queensland, and betrays working people down in

Canberra. That is something for us to do.

As for the role of Mark Latham, well as I say, it’s a sad thing to see someone fall so

far. I don’t believe it’s going to really have any impact. He’s been discredited now

for a very, very long time in terms of him being honest, and indeed being


By way of comparison, he led us to a terrible defeat where we lost both houses of

Parliament in 2004. By way of contrast, Bill Shorten took us within a whisker of

winning after one term, winning 14 seats. So there is no point of comparison.

I’d just make the other point about Bill Shorten’s integrity. Politically speaking, to

be honest is to make sure you outline your vision for Australia, and you announce

policies before the election. Now, many opposition leaders historically do not do

that. What you can’t say about Bill Shorten is he hasn’t been willing to lead on

policy, and announce policies before either the election we just had in 2016 or the

forthcoming election whenever it’s held.

We are very clear that we want to set out a vision about what matters to this

country, and Bill Shorten has led on that, and for that reason I think we will do very

well in the forthcoming election.

These by-elections are very tough, if you understand the circumstances in both

Queensland and Tasmania. We understand they are tough - they are winnable, but

they are tough.

GILBERT: The other tough thing that Mr Shorten has to navigate at the moment is

this idea that he would hand over the pre-selections in your state of Victoria to the

National Executive to undertake. If that happens, how would that be received by

the grassroots of your Party? Would he be basically leapfrogging that process if he

went to the national executive? Would he disempower the grassroots in that


O'CONNOR: Look, I think ideally you want to have pre-selections in each

electorate, that's what Labor tends to do. But the national executive can obviously

make a decision - particularly in relation to an election that may be called early, or

the potential of some difficulties in pre-selections - to make a decision to be

involved in that process.

We have that capacity, and it has been used in the past. That's really for the

national executive and the party to determine, not the parliamentary party, but let's

see what happens there.

Our focus, I have to tell you right now, as you can understand, is in Braddon and

Longman and of course in Western Australia, and for that matter to see how things

go in Mayo.

GILBERT: But it goes to what you were saying before - it is difficult being

Opposition Leader, it sure is. But, one of the elements is not just about policy - it’s

difficult not to create enemies in a party when you’ve been around for that long, like

he has in five years.

O’CONNOR:Well, I’d say the job of Opposition Leader is probably the toughest gig

in politics. I think everyone attests to that, and it’s true to say that it’s difficult. But,

over the last five years, Bill has ensured, not only have we led on policy, but we’ve

been coherent and we’ve been united. I haven’t seen in my 17 years, a period

where we’ve remained united for so long.

I know there’s speculation that gratuitously arises, but frankly Kieran, we have

been united. By way of contrast, we’ve got a former Prime Minister willing to cross

the floor on energy policy against Malcolm Turnbull. I mean, by way of contrast I

think we are marked up for that.

GILBERT: Now, finally the Police Commissioner in New South Wales. My

colleague Sharri Markson spoke to him last night and they’re having crisis talks

today, the Minister and the Commissioner, to try and close any loopholes that

might remain in terms of gun laws after that horrific tragedy, where teenagers were

slaughtered in their own home. Have you got any reflections on that? Obviously,

our gun laws are one of the toughest in the world already, aren’t they?

O’CONNOR: That’s true. Look, first politically I just warn - as a former Justice

Minister who had oversight of this area federally - I just warn against making

changes and transactional agreements with, say for example with Senator

Leyonhjelm, which was being considered by the federal government recently.

I would say we need to make sure that we continue to review firearms legislation

and how they’re to be accessed, and also look at the new technology of firearms -hand guns in particular. I think there has to be a very strict application of hand


Finally, I applaud the efforts by the NSW Police Commissioner and others to look

at this, and in particular intelligence provided between agencies so that, for

example, a person who may be indeed a risk to provide a license and a handgun

or a firearm should of course be avoided if you can do that, because that tragedy -

the murder of those two children by their father - is something that’s quite tragic. If

we can learn something from that, then of course we should.

GILBERT: Absolutely. Well said. Brendan O’Connor we’ll catch you soon.

Appreciate your time as always.

O’CONNOR: Thanks Kieran.



Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.