891 ABC Adelaide - Breakfast with Matthew Abraham and David Bevan

Transcript
  • Minister for Education
  • Leader of the House

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
891 ABC ADELAIDE, BREAKFAST , MATTHEW ABRAHAM AND DAVID BEVAN
SUBJECT/S:  South Australian Parliament, Budget 2014, Deakin University Event

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Every Wednesday we thrash out the big national issues with two heavy hitters in the Federal Parliament, that's Mark Butler, Labor MP for Port Adelaide, opposition environment, employment spokesman. Good morning, Mr Butler.

MARK BUTLER: Good morning Matthew and David, and Christopher if he's there.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: And Christopher Pyne, Liberal MP for Sturt, Education Minister and Leader of the House. Good morning, Christopher Pyne.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I certainly am, Mark. Don't worry, I wouldn't let you have 15 minutes on your own with Matt and Dave. I'm here to protect you. Good morning Matt, good morning Dave.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: You're all heart, Christopher Pyne. Thank you. Mark Butler, we might start with you because right in front of you in the front page of the 'Tiser. Splashed all over it is a story that's been all over our news bulletins as well obviously since yesterday evening, and that this this extraordinary attack by John Gazzola and Russell Wortley. Are you embarrassed by that?

MARK BUTLER: Well, of course. I don't think any member of the Labor Party or, I imagine, the Liberal Party if Chris were in the same position, likes to see its own talking in such denigrating terms in the Parliament about another member of the Labor Party. This was an address in reply. It's intended, certainly in the Federal Parliament, to be an opportunity for members of Parliament to talk about a legislative agenda, a reform agenda, and I imagine or I hope that John regrets what he said yesterday because it's a pretty destructive speech I think he gave. I understand that he would be very upset about what happened. He obviously loved being president of the Legislative Council. I'm sure as a member of...

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Is he [indistinct]...?

MARK BUTLER: Yes, he is, but I'm sure as a member of the Labor Party as well he understands for 28 years that the caucus giveth and the caucus taketh away these positions, and...

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Well, apparently the caucus is run by the right faction, and you get the impression that Gazzola thinks that they're running rough shod over the other members.

MARK BUTLER: Well, as I understand it there was a ballot and if I were in that ballot, if I were in that room I'd have voted for John, but John lost the ballot and Russell will be the president of the Legislative Council, and I've known Russell for many years...

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Would you have voted for Gazzola because you think he's a good bloke or because he's a factional man?

MARK BUTLER: Well, I think he was a fine president of the Legislative Council. I think Russell will be a fine president of the Legislative Council. I've known both of them for more than 20 years. They've both of them served in a range of different positions in the union movement in the party and now in the Parliament, but these are judgements members of the caucus make and all of those members of the Labor Party, members of the Liberal Party, we lose some ballots and we win some ballots and we have to accept that that's part of the system.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Chris Pyne, do you have some sympathy for Mark Butler? That is, that this sort of dirty linen, you can see why parties of both types want to keep it in the laundry.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, one of the great sadnesses of the state election in March is that many members of the Labor Party would rather have lost the election so that they could actually sort out the internal divisions within Labor. They won it and those divisions are now on display. Government's should after 12 years have to spend some time in opposition because they have by that stage got to their third and fourth rate team in the front bench, and that's what we've seen with Russell Wortley as the president of the Legislative Council with the ministry that they're offering to the South Australian public. And these divisions will continue in Labor because, really, they needed some time out and they won 47 per cent of the vote and snuck back into government, and I think South Australians are the poorer for it.

DAVID BEVAN: Chris Pyne, in your worst nightmares would you have expected the Budget to be going over as badly as it is going over?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, nobody expected a budget that's tough like this to be greeted with galas and boxes of Roses chocolates...

DAVID BEVAN: Of course not, but according to The Age today, the ANZ Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence survey shows that Australian shoppers are threatening to close their wallets following your budget, with consumer confidence falling at the fastest rate since before the global financial crisis.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I think in the short term, the public won't thank the Government for the tough medicine that's followed Labor's six years of binge partying on the Australian taxpayer and debt and deficit, but I think in the medium-to-long term the Government will be given the credit for fixing the budget, stopping the boats, building the infrastructure of the 21st century and getting the economy and the budget back on track.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: You won't repeat that line, will you, because you know how 7:30...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Yeah, we're not allowed to have more - not allowed to repeat the same answer twice [indistinct]...

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Okay, no, we...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: ...allowed to repeat the same question 11 times if you're on the 7:30 Report.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: And we do as well. That's...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, you never do.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: They're our rules.

DAVID BEVAN: Is it correct that you and Tony Abbott have cancelled a meeting to a carbon fibre research facility at Geelong University today on the advice of Federal Police?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Yes, it is.

DAVID BEVAN: Well, what's the advice?

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: [Indistinct]

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, the advice from the Australian Federal Police was that the students are planning a riot at the Deakin University and the advice was that we didn't want to put innocent bystanders at risk because university students want the Australian taxpayer to pick up the full cost of their education rather than make a contribution to it.

MARK BUTLER: Did they use the word riot, or is that your interpretation?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, they're planning a National Day of Action, and the last few times they've done this...

MARK BUTLER: Did police use the word riot?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, I did, but Julie Bishop of course was assaulted by the Sydney University students and Sophie Mirabella was assaulted by the Sydney Univer... by the university students here in Melbourne, so I think it's not too fine a point to say that the students have been rioting when you assault ministers of the Crown and members of the academic staff.

MARK BUTLER: Well, I think that's an extraordinary slur on students who are intending to protest today. They're understandably incredibly angry about the changes that the Government are making to university education, particularly a very big hike in the fees that future students will have to pay to get a start in life, and to say that those protests are going to be a riot is an extraordinary slur. I mean, the right to protest peacefully is a very important part of our democracy. It's important that those protests be peaceful and sometimes protesters, including students, in the exuberance of youth, step over the line.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Did they step over the line with Julie Bishop [indistinct]...?

MARK BUTLER: Look, I haven't seen footage. All I've seen is print reports about that, and it appears that security staff and police were worried about that, and I would...

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: She was being pushed around.

MARK BUTLER: ...certainly encourage protesters to keep away from public officials and from Members of Parliament and Ministers and the Prime Minister, but...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: And you condone the behaviour of the Sydney University students [indistinct]...

MARK BUTLER: No, I just said I haven't seen it, and to the extent they were physically jostling Julie Bishop or Sophie Mirabella or even you, Christopher, then that....

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: [Indistinct]...

MARK BUTLER: ...should be condemned. Protests must be kept peaceful, they must be kept peaceful, and people should stay away from the - you know, physically stay away from Members of Parliament. But to say that students who, across the country today, are protesting against the cuts to higher education and the lift to fees are rioting - to use your term, Christopher - I think is a real slur on students who are deeply worried about their future.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: If that's the end result of their actions, however, if the protests turn violent, then it doesn't matter what you call it. It is a riot, is it not? And why would that...

MARK BUTLER: No, no, what Christopher said was that students at the Geelong campus of Deakin University were intending to have a riot today, intending to have a riot. Now, I've seen lots of reports, and I've seen lots of reports about...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, I think you should check out the Twitterverse and the Facebook, Mark...

MARK BUTLER: ...I've seen reports about why...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: ...and you [indistinct]...

MARK BUTLER: No, you have a go. You have a go.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: ...just like the Socialist Alternative, you don't want anybody else to have a say. The truth is, if you check out the Facebook and the Twitter, you'll see that the students are, in the most inflammatory language, are describing the Prime Minister, myself, Julie Bishop and others and, quite frankly, I agree with you entirely. Peaceful protests are entirely a part of our democracy, but the students so far and the Socialist Alternative have proven themselves incapable of doing that. Last Friday they tried to...

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: It's not quite John Howard turning up in front of the gun lobby wearing a bulletproof vest but at least turning up, is it, Chris Pyne?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, last Friday - well, so you think we should ignore the advice from the Australian Federal Police?

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Well, I'm sure the advice to John Howard was that you could get shot, wear a bulletproof jacket.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, you think that's better television for us to put ourselves in the line of danger and wear bulletproof jackets. Is that what you're asking for us to do?

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: No, I am saying to you I'd be interested to know what the Federal Police advice was to John Howard when he was attempting to cull semi-automatic weapons after the Port Arthur massacre to address an angry crowd.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, the AFP advice to us was that they didn't want to put innocent bystanders at risk of angry students in a mob, and I think the Prime Minister...

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Christopher Pyne...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: ...made that decision that he didn't want to...

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Christopher Pyne, if we can...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: ...[indistinct] other people [indistinct]...

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: We've only got a couple of minutes before 9 o'clock, but the issue which has upset them so much is the changes you've made to higher education. We...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: They don't want to contribute more.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Well, we received a text yesterday from a mum who is very worried that her daughter, who is partway through her studies, will be hit by these changes. They are, in effect, retrospective, aren't they? If you're partway through a degree, you don't continue your degree and have to pay it back under the terms that you signed up to at the start. These changes kick in right now for you. Is that correct?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, it's not correct. So...

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Okay, well, what can you say to reassure that mum and students who are already partway through their degrees?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, the first thing I'd say was that this new system will apply from 1 January 2016, so to new students, unless students change their course. So if that student stays in the course that she's doing, she'll continue under the rules that she started. If she changes course, then quite rightly she will face the new measures. Secondly, I'd say that her mother has absolutely nothing to worry about because that student can borrow every single dollar upfront from the Australian taxpayer and pay it back when they earn over $50,000 a year at the lowest rate of interest [indistinct]...

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Well, why should she have to pay it back when she reaches 50,000? The justification for HECS was that if you have a degree, you earn more than the average. Fifty thousand is well below the average.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, it's not. The average [indistinct] earnings is $32,000.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Well, according to The Australian, the paper that the Coalition is very fond of, the average weekly earnings was about $72,000.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, the $32,000 is the average weekly earnings and $50,000 is well above it...

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: It's not, Christopher. That's the median earnings. The average weekly earnings is...

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, the Audit Commission...

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: ...well over $50,000.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: The Audit Commission suggested it be dropped to $32,000. We are keeping it at $50,000.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Chris Pyne, and I know you want to know what Ian Henschke is doing, as does Mark Butler. Thank you both. We'll catch you next Wednesday, if not before. Thank you. Chris Pyne and Mark Butler, thank you for coming into the studio.

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