E & EO
SUBJECTS – Belgium terror attacks, recall of Parliament, ABCC, Registered Organisations Commission
Presenter: It’s been two days since the Brussels terror attacks and of course the fallout is still being felt right around the world. Our Prime Ministers controversial comments about the attacks are also in the spotlight.
Presenter: Senator Michaelia Cash joins us now from Perth, welcome to the show Michaelia.
Minister Cash: Great to be with you.
Presenter: Malcom Turnbull has been criticised for saying security in Belgium had slipped, he has blamed the refugee crisis saying Islamic terrorists entered posing as refugees. First we are going to take a look at what he had to say last night.
Video of Prime Minister - European Governments are confronted by a perfect storm of failed or neglected integration, foreign fighters returning from Iraq and Syria, poorest borders and intelligence and security apparatus struggling to keep pace with the scope and breadth of the treat.
Presenter: So your take on this?
Minister Cash: I fundamentally agree with the Prime Minister and I think his speech to the Lowy Institute last night really highlighted why in Australia we do need to remain vigilant. It also highlighted the fundamental difference with Australia being an island nation and we are able to know who comes in and who leaves our country. But then you look at the situation in Europe any one of us who has been to Europe knows, you jump in a car, you jump on a train, you jump on a bus, you are in one country in the morning and in another country but a few hours later. That is a fantastic thing - the free flow of people - but it clearly now in particular with the crisis of millions upon millions of people now flooding into Europe it is posing a real situation for them and unfortunately, that situation is being played out. We saw it in Paris but four months ago and now in Brussels. So I think the Prime Minister really has highlighted one of the situations Europe is now facing but in particular the fundamental difference with Australia.
Presenter: How do you think he can be so sure that we are safe here in Australia because we talk to security experts on the show all of the time, particularly around these tragic incidents who are saying we are potentially in trouble here too, it’s only a matter of time.
Minister Cash: Larry, you can never make any guarantees obviously, when it comes to national security. But what you can do as a Government is ensure that it is your top priority and a Coalition Government always makes sure that the security of the nation, its people and its borders is a top priority. We obviously have information sharing at the highest level in Australia and I think when your agencies share information and they intelligence gathering, again as I have said we are an island nation, we should know who is coming in and who is leaving. We put the appropriate resources into national security, so whilst you’re right, you cannot make any guarantees, we need to be constantly vigilant. I can assure you that the Coalition Government sees national security as a fundamental priority.
Presenter: Ok, we are going to move on from Brussels now, there’s an article in the Daily Telegraph about Malcom Turnbull’s secret society. According to this article, you’re in the inner circle; do tell how do we get in?
Minister Cash: I don’t know maybe we have the Prime Minister on the show… No look, at the end of the day I don’t think it would be unusual for any Prime Minister whether they are a Liberal Prime Minister or Labor Prime Minister to seek advice from certain people. I am very lucky that when it comes to industrial relations, the ABCC, registered organisations, the Prime Minister does pick up the phone and talk to me. I’m assuming that he talks to other people in relation to other portfolios but I don’t think any Australian would be surprised to know that the Prime Minister has a core group of people, just like previous Prime Ministers have had that he speaks to, to seek advice. In fact, I would say it’s a very good thing that our Prime Minister does have an inner circle and is able to test advice but if there is one thing I can tell you about Malcom Turnbull, he is not afraid to pick up the phone and call you and say, “I need to run something past you, what are your thoughts, thanks very much”. I personally think that’s a great thing in a Prime Minister.
Presenter: It would be wrong of us to try and try and negotiate some sort of commercial arrangement with you but if you can get us into the Prime Ministers inner circle, we will get you into the Logies – that’s our deal.
Minister Cash: I like the way you’re talking.
Presenter: Now speaking of the Logies, Parliament is set to return on the 18th of April… highly controversial, how do you see this playing out?
Minister Cash: Look, I don’t think it’s highly controversial. I think that this ABCC legislation is obviously a fundamental part of our economic agenda, in particular given the building and construction sector employs over 1 million Australians. One in 10 Australians has their job as a result of this sector. We know that the sector is unfortunately inundated with bullying, thuggery, intimidation on a daily basis. Something needs to be done. The Senate does need to be given an opportunity to consider in detail this legislation. That is what the Prime Minister has now afforded the Senate, an opportunity of three whole weeks. Should the Senate choose to consider in detail the legislation, they don’t have to but if they don’t and the legislation is not passed the Prime Minister has made it clear this is important to us, we need to break the deadlock and we will go to a Double Dissolution election on the 2nd of July.
Presenter: Just on that, Larry did only get through his second year of political science; we would like you to explain to us if you could please help Larry out. In one sentence, what a Double Dissolution is?
Minister Cash: Ok, every single one of us, Senators and Members of the House of Representatives gets to apply for our job again and if we are lucky enough for the Australian people to give us our job for another term, we get to vote on the important legislation that we could not get through this Parliament, the ABCC and the ROC.
Presenter: Hopefully they never introduce that to television. Thank you for clearing that up because a lot of people are talking about that. Malcom Turnbull’s campaign buzz phrase has become a bit of a joke after it was revealed there is a striking resemblance to a show called Veep, in the political comedy the Vice Presidents campaign is continuity with change. Malcolm Turnbull’s buzz phrase is continuity and change. Now the show’s star, Julia Louis – Dreyfus has spoken out as well as the show’s creator saying, in season 4 of Veep we came up with the most meaningless election slogan we could think of. Michaelia, over to you.
Minister Cash: Life does sometimes imitate art and I think the reality for us all is when you are trying to distil something down to what people understand continuity and change actually does send the message to the people. There is continuity whether it’s a Labor Government to a Liberal Government, a Liberal Government to a Labor Government there will always be continuity and there will be change. Certainly in terms of transitions from Prime Ministers of course there is continuity. Malcolm Turnbull is a member of a Coalition Government; he was a senior Member of Cabinet. Certainly a number of the policies we will continue with because we fundamentally believe in them. But also a Prime Minister brings his own personal stamp, so there is change in that regard and I think certainly I think if you had to ask me what’s the number one thing that Malcom Turnbull is obviously is in terms of the change side of the equation, is innovation. A $1.1 billion investment in innovation. I don’t think anyone could argue that when it comes to innovation and the transition to the new economy, Malcom Turnbull is well and truly the man to do that because his entire life he has lived and breathed innovation.
Presenter: Michaelia, Michaelia, nice try but you cannot tell me that behind the scenes someone didn’t go “Bugger, bugger, bugger, we didn’t check Veep” this show would be watched by every single member of the parliamentary gallery by every single staffer there in Canberra. You cannot sit there and tell me that someone is not going “we stuffed that up, now we have Julia Louis- Dreyfus tweeting about it”
Minister Cash: I have to say, it certainly highlighted the issue, if nothing else it’s got everybody talking. But I think it’s again, life does sometimes imitate art.
Presenter: There has been a review of entitlements after Bronwyn Bishop’s chopper scandal. The changes will see pollies banned from using limos, from Canberra airport to get over there to Parliament House. They will have to catch a shuttle bus instead, that’s a lot of hundred green bottles going on their back and forth, what’s your take on this?
Minister Cash: Look, at the end of the day obviously there was a review of the work expenses of Members of Parliament, that review has now been made public and the Government is obviously considering some of the recommendations in terms of the one we have been asked to personally look at. I believe Mathias Cormann has issued a statement that we basically accept the recommendations. We spend taxpayer’s money, we need to do it carefully and efficiently and if there are ways we can be more efficient and more careful, then we should certainly have a look at them. I have a basic rule for myself – is it going to pass the pub test? That’s it and if it doesn’t you don’t do it. Very simple and we saw what happened unfortunately with Bronwyn Bishop. I’ve never caught a helicopter I have no intention on catching a helicopter but certainly we spend tax payers money and it does need to be spent appropriately and wisely.
Presenter: Well said, the pub test I’m taking is if two people are sitting in a bar or in a pub discussing it, can it be justified. Is that what the pub test is?
Minister Cash: Yeah, basically. You’re sitting in a bar you’re having a chat with people and they tell you what they really think.
Presenter: Oh, I thought it was two Politicians driving past a pub in a limo seeing what time happy hour is. Thank you for that. Michaelia, lovely to talk to you as always thank you.
Minister Cash: Fantastic to be with you guys, have a great day.
Presenter: We will see you in the inner circle.
Minister Cash: Thank you.