ABC NewsRadio with Marius Benson

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The Hon Christopher Pyne MP

Minister for Defence Industry

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9 August 2016

SUBJECTS: Senate; Defence Industry; Census Privacy Concerns

MARIUS BENSON: Christopher Pyne, good morning.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Marius

MARIUS BENSON: Could we sum up the situation confronting the government and particularly yourself as the Leader of the Government in the House at the moment as being bad news and good news. The bad news is you don’t have the numbers to get your program through with any ease in the Lower House and then the Upper House particularly in the Senate, the good news is you don’t have a program?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No Marius, you’re wrong on both counts, we do have a majority in the House of Representatives, we have 76 votes and will elect a Speaker which will mean we’ll have 75 votes, Labor has 69 votes which means we have a clear majority over Labor and over half of the cross-benchers have pledged their support to the government on supply and confidence matters which means we do have a clear majority so you’re wrong on the first point…

MARIUS BENSON: Could you go to the Senate before you resolve those numbers issues?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well the good thing about the Senate is that everybody in the Senate has now been legitimately elected, there are no lottery winners in the Senate in this Parliament because we changed the voting rules which means the public have received the Senate that they voted for and therefore I respect every one of the Senators on the cross bench as having been legitimately elected and we will work with them. And I’ll just let you on in a little secret Marius, most of them are centre right or right Senators so they will be not as difficult to work with as some people are claiming that they will be, in fact I think they will be very supportive of the government’s program. In terms of the government’s program you’re wrong again unfortunately because we have a jam packed program when we come back to Parliament. We have the Australian Building and Construction Commission Bill, the Registered Organisations Commission Bill, we will have a savings bill to encapsulate those savings that at least the Labor Party supported in their own pre-election policies.

MARIUS BENSON: That’s the budget you’re talking about there?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: We have savings measures that are not just in the budget but go back some period of time that Labor has previously opposed and now supported during the election campaign. We have tax cuts for personal income tax, the company tax cuts, we have the plebiscite on marriage equality, we have the legislation to deal with the Country Fire Association in Victoria, so in terms of not having a program you’re sadly wrong again.

MARIUS BENSON: On the program that you have been pursuing in government can I ask you about, particularly in relation to your own responsibilities in defence industries, you took some tough decisions in Tony Abbott’s terms of government in terms of closing down the car industry, withdrawing subsidies there and that was taken a couple of years out from the election, but closer to the election you took a decision to pump $50 billion, or to back a $50 billion subs program, now the Productivity Commission says that subs program represents about a third of it is subsidy and that actually involves providing a greater subsidy from the government involved in automotive and textiles combined, a policy contradiction whereby you took away subsidies far from and election and returned them close to an election.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well look Marius you’re having a rough morning because you’re wrong again. The car industry didn’t close down because of any policy action taken by the federal government. Holden made it absolutely clear that they would not stay in Australia producing vehicles and in fact said so. They actually said, the National CEO said that there was no amount of money the Commonwealth would give them that would entice them to stay so you’re wrong about the reason the car industry was in Australia was because of subsidies. And of course the submarines, the Productivity Commission’s 30% figure is wrong, it’s a very ancient figure, has been disproved time and time again by other reports and is not the information that was available to either the NSC or the Cabinet so that figure is wrong. Of course the submarines are not a subsidy, the submarines are a vital part of regional security because they’ll be regionally superior submarines, they’ll be a vital part of our armoury in our defence forces, they’re critical for our strategic future and they make us a serious player in the international relations in our region and beyond and they have a massive impact, economically of course through defence industry in jobs and in growth for our economy but they are certainly not a subsidy.

MARIUS BENSON: Christopher Pyne can I ask you about Eric Abetz. He renewed a call that he’s made before last night on Four Corners for Tony Abbott to return to the Ministry, I’ve heard a suggestion that you did disastrously in Tasmania in the election, you got four out of twelve Senators. Zero out of five House of Reps seats in Tasmania, the suggestion put to me was the conservatives were so angry with Malcolm Turnbull they ran dead.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well look Marius the election is well and truly over, the Coalition won it, and I think speculating about something that’s now in the past and we are looking forward to three years of good government and commenting on conjecture, anonymous or otherwise, is really not the job of a Cabinet Minister on the ABC radio. I’ll let other people speak anonymously about the election, I’m happy to talk about policy and get on with the job of delivering defence industry in Australia.

MARIUS BENSON: And just quickly are you happy to put your name and address on the census form today?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Absolutely I am, and I think Senator Xenophon is engaging in somewhat of a tinfoil hat kind of policy when he says he’s raising doubts about the census, and he’s damaging South Australia, because of course if people follow his lead in South Australia and they are not counted in our population and South Australia will be underrepresented and we could well lose a seat in the House of Representatives in the next redistribution. So in fact Senator Xenophon in gaining political points and creating an issue that isn’t there is actually damaging the very state that he represents in the Senate.

MARIUS BENSON: Christopher Pyne thank you very much.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Great pleasure, thanks Marius.

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