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Friday, 25 January 2019
Transcript

Interview with Deb Knight and Anthony Albanese, Today Show, Channel Nine

Subjects: Warren Mundine; Australia Day; Anna Wintour

EO&E

DEB KNIGHT:

The Government's Peter Dutton joins us now, along with Labor's Anthony Albanese for our regular Friday pollies chat. Good morning to you both.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

Good morning.

PETER DUTTON:

Good morning.

DEB KNIGHT:

I think that you've brought the Queensland heat with you. It's extremely warm here today, isn't it?

PETER DUTTON:

I'm going back to Queensland to escape the heat.

DEB KNIGHT:

Well exactly. It's a bit like that, isn't it? Now Peter I want to start with you. The PM's managed to infuriate local Liberals. The former candidate in Gilmore is now going to run as an independent and Warren Mundine doesn't even live in the local electorate. Why would Scott Morrison intervene in this like he has?

PETER DUTTON:

Well Deb, Warren Mundine was good enough to be the President of the Labor Party. He's an Indigenous leader in our country and I'll think he'll do a great job as a local member. So I think there's many reasons as to why he's a natural pick.

Obviously if you look back to 1996, John Howard made decisions about candidates in particular seats. Bill Shorten has done the same in the run up to the last election. There's been changes on the Labor Party's team to run on to the field. So look, you'll see this in both parties.

In the end though, I think Warren Mundine would make a great contribution to indigenous affairs, talking about Indigenous kids that are suiciding and all the rest of it….

DEB KNIGHT:

….well there's no doubting…

PETER DUTTON:

….I think he'll do a good job.

DEB KNIGHT:

No doubting the quality of the candidate, but the local Liberals are quitting in disgust and really doesn't this just open up the fault lines? Isn't there enough division and infighting within the Government as it is?

PETER DUTTON:

Well Deb, I think that the Government wants to have its best team to run on the field come the election in May and…

DEB KNIGHT:

….regardless of the consequences?

PETER DUTTON:

Well, Warren Mundine is somebody who I think will be an accomplished member of parliament. He was good enough, as I say, to be leader of the Labor Party, Albo's party. Albo probably voted for him so….

DEB KNIGHT: …well Albo, you'd have to endorse him, wouldn't you, as a local member? He almost became a Labor senator and he was your party president. He's got to be the guy, doesn't he?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

He was a failure and that's why he was never preselected by the Labor Party. Someone in Queensland said to me earlier this week that this bloke is the only rat who's ever run onto a sinking ship. And that's what we have here with Warren Mundine. This is a disastrous decision by Scott Morrison that exposes his lack of judgement.

Labor has Fiona Phillips in the seat. She ran last time and she's been running hard for five years as a candidate to get into parliament to represent her local community and they won't accept this blow in.

DEB KNIGHT:

On the issue of female representation, we know that the Government does have a problem attracting and keeping female candidates. Gilmore is open because the sitting MP Ann Sudmalis is standing down. The PM called for a female candidate when Kelly O'Dwyer announced her resignation on the weekend. If it's good enough for Kelly O'Dwyer's seat, why isn't it good enough to have a woman in Gilmore?

PETER DUTTON:

Well Deb, as I say, Warren Mundine's a man of Indigenous heritage and we want more Indigenous people in parliament as well as more women. So we want diversity. I mean, he is somebody who knows Bill Shorten as well as Albo does and he's made a decision that he doesn't want Bill Shorten to be the prime minister of this country. So I think he has a lot of merit on his own. He's successful in business. He's obviously immersed himself in ways in which we could advance the cause of Indigenous Australians, getting kids into education, better health services in regional areas etc…

DEB KNIGHT:

…are you getting the feeling that women maybe just don't want to enter politics on both sides?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

Well not on our side because what where we're heading towards is 50 per cent female representation which we will have after the next election, which properly reflects the Australian community. And that's what we want – a parliament that reflects the people who vote for it.

DEB KNIGHT: Well, let's see if that plays out at the next election.

Now we're heading into the Australia Day long weekend. Of course, Warren Mundine actually wrote an opinion piece two years ago calling for the date of Australia Day to be changed. It's a big issue, a controversial issue. Will Labor Albo, back any laws guaranteeing that Australia Day remains on the 26 January?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

Well, no one in Labor is calling for Australia Day to be changed …

DEB KNIGHT:

…but if a private members bill gets up, will you back?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

Well, a private members bill won't get up. That's not the way that the parliament works.

So we don't want to change Australia Day. What we do want though is to recognise First Australians in our Constitution, to give them a voice as they've called for through the Uluru Statement. What we want also is to move towards a republic. We want serious changes that make a difference rather than engaging in culture wars.

DEB KNIGHT:

Peter you have backed the calls for the date to be protected in law, you said that on radio when you were asked about it yesterday.

PETER DUTTON:

Well, I'm a supporter of the celebration on the day. I think there's a lot that we can celebrate. It's not a way in which we show disrespect to Indigenous heritage in this country, quite the opposite. I mean, we all celebrate our Indigenous heritage and at the same time though, we should celebrate the fact that modern Australia, the cities that have been built here in Melbourne, around the country, have been done off the back of that first settlement. The First Fleet that arrived, established communities here that went on to be governors and people that drew up the architecture of these great cities.

So I don't think we should be embarrassed about it and from my perspective, I think it's a great day of celebration. People have come here from the four corners of the earth to escape all sorts of poverty, of war, whatever it might be, to celebrate the democracy and the freedom we have in our country and I think we should be very proud of it.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yeah. I called last year Deb, in my Australia Day address in my local community, for the referendum to recognise the First Australians in our Constitution to be held, to have that vote…

DEB KNIGHT:

….on Australia Day?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

….on Australia Day. Because if we did that, then truly, we could have a recognition where Australia Day is a day that celebrates our past, our present and move to a republic on the same day, recognise our future as well as an independent, sovereign state with an Australian as our head of state.

DEB KNIGHT:

Well, it could be worth considering. Now we are here at the tennis …

PETER DUTTON:

….feels like an election pitch.

DEB KNIGHT:

Well, it could. Are we in election mode?

PETER DUTTON:

I thought your leadership days were over. What happened?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

I gave a speech last Australia Day …

DEB KNIGHT:

….and you stand by it.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

I stand by it.

PETER DUTTON:

And Bill Shorten's still leader.

DEB KNIGHT:

I want to ask you about Anna Wintour because she is a tennis tragic, the head of US Vogue of course, and she did slam Scott Morrison yesterday, singling him out in particular for not defending the rights of gay people in schools. Is it embarrassing? She is influential on the global scale.

PETER DUTTON:

I liked her better in The Devil Wears Prada really.

DEB KNIGHT:

Well, but I mean, in all seriousness …

PETER DUTTON:

I thought it was a bit tacky actually, to be honest. I think somebody coming here to criticise, to make a statement, frankly, that wasn't factually correct anyway, is pretty shabby. I mean, she thrives on media and attention, good luck. But I just think it was a little tacky and she can explain herself.

DEB KNIGHT:

Well Julie Bishop says she had some pertinent points, so she disagrees with you on that. But what do you reckon Albo? Should she butt out?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

No, she has a right to make comments and she's done it. That fact is that right around the industrialised world, we've had a move towards equality on the basis of people's sexuality. And what Anna Wintour was pointing out was just that fact and that the Prime Minister needs to address issues like kids in schools being discriminated against and needs to do it in a way that I think has the support of the Australian public.

DEB KNIGHT:

Well, it certainly got people talking and we appreciate you both coming along and hopefully you'll have a chance to see some tennis while you're here as well.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

Good to be here.

PETER DUTTON:

I won't, I'm going straight back to Brisbane.

DEB KNIGHT:

Oh look at you, on the hustings.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

I'm off to Sydney.

DEB KNIGHT:

Oh, good on you. Alright, well gentlemen, thank you so much for coming in.

PETER DUTTON:

Thank you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

Thanks.