East Torrens Primary School, SA
21 March 2014
National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence; Harmony Day; South Australian election; Australian Water Holdings; Operation Sovereign Borders; Assistant Treasurer
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well good afternoon everyone, and can I thank Meredith Starkey, the Principal of East Torrens Primary School and the East Torrens Primary community for having me here today at their school in my electorate, in the Eastern suburbs of Adelaide.
I’m here, of course, to be part of the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence in schools and to mark Harmony Day. Harmony Day is a national day, of course, to celebrate our diversity as a nation and in schools particularly we have a National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence.
Today the Federal Government can announce that we are moving to stage three of the Safe Schools Hub that can be found on the Students First website, with of course links through to Education and other websites.
That website contains very valuable information about how to make schools safer, to make school communities safer. But also to help parents to pick up the warning signs about their children being potentially bullied at school and to show parents how to talk to their children, how to probe them for information to find out if they are happy at school and if they’re being mistreated and that if they do find that they’re being bullied, how to react to that, how to deal with it, how to talk to the school, the principal, the teachers about ensuring that their children are not being bullied, and not bullying others, of course, because it takes a bully to create a bullying situation.
I’ve just spoken to the beautiful students here at East Torrens Primary School – there are 40 different nationalities, so it was a marvellous place to choose for Harmony Day, and I’m sure that the teaching staff here, the parents, [the] community are very attuned to the importance of not having bullying in their schools and their classrooms.
I have four children, aged six to 13, so I’m well aware – I’m at that stage of life where we are very well aware of issues like bullying and drugs and alcohol, etcetera, so as a parent I would really encourage other parents to go onto those websites to have a look at the information that’s available to make sure that their children are being properly protected and looked after in their school communities.
Are there any questions?
JOURNALIST: I have some questions on the state election [inaudible].
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Sure. I imagined you would.
JOURNALIST: Has anyone from the federal government spoken to the independents regarding the position they’re in at the moment?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Not that I’m aware of, no.
JOURNALIST: If they were what would be the message that they would be saying, like what would be your message be to the independents, say hoping for a Liberal state government or..?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I’m very much hoping for a Liberal state government.
My message to the independents would be that they will make a considered decision, and they’ll weigh up who had the majority of the votes in the election where the Liberal Party achieved 53 per cent of the two party preferred vote. We achieved at least 78,000 more votes than Labor and there are still several hundred thousand votes left to count.
I know Bob Such very well. I’ve known him since I was the Young Liberal President in 1988. I’ve a very high regard for Bob Such and I’m very sorry that he’s not still a member of the Liberal Party. And I feel that the way he was treated over the years was wrong, and I would welcome him back into the Liberal Party. But he knows that because I’ve said it to him many times before.
I don’t know Geoff Brock well, in fact I’ve only met him once. But I’d say to both those gentlemen, the Liberal Party won 53 per cent of the two party preferred vote and therefore the South Australian public voted for change.
They voted for change in 2010, they voted for change in 2014, and I think Steven Marshall has the right plan for the South Australian economy, for growing jobs, for reducing taxes, for reducing regulation and red tape to giving business the opportunity to grow. So I hope that they’ll choose the Liberal Party to support. At the end of the day it’s a decision for them.
I’ve been in a hung parliament situation before in the 43rd Parliament and it's a testing time. But it can be managed with goodwill, and I'm sure those two gentlemen have enormous wellsprings of goodwill within them. And I know that the Liberal Party does for them.
JOURNALIST: Are you concerned that there may still be some bad blood between Bob Such and those as he calls them, the “big L Liberals” that remain [inaudible]?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I'm not going to comment on the relationships between Bob Such and other members of the Liberal Party. But I would say that I've always had a good relationship with Bob Such. I hold him in very high esteem. I think he deserves to be respected as should all people, particularly on the National Day of Action against Bullying, it's well to remember that bullying doesn’t just occur amongst children. It can occur amongst adults, and people should treat each other with the respect that we all would like to be treated, that includes Bob Such and Geoff Brock.
JOURNALIST: In terms of Federal politics, there was a Fairfax media report this morning that Joe Hockey has actually put out a statement declaring that those claims were false, there were claims that he had received money from the Australian Water Holdings and repaid it, and he's flat out denied that. In your position have you or any charity that you are aware of, received money from Australian Water Holdings?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No.
JOURNALIST: Okay, no worries. And also, just quickly, the latest update on Operation Sovereign Waters...
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: [interrupts] Borders.
JOURNALIST: Sorry, Borders. Shows that it's been quite successful. 92 days now without any boat arrivals. What do you have to say to that?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well the Labor Party said that our borders couldn’t be protected. Under Labor, they changed the laws that John Howard had in place, and 50,000 unauthorised arrivals came in a five year period. And they said it couldn’t be helped. What we've shown, what Scott Morrison's shown, is that with the right mix of policies, with the will to make changes, that we can protect the sovereignty of our borders and ensure we have a humanitarian process for taking refugees that is orderly and that we are in control of.
He’s proven that now for 91 or 92 days I think it is, where there’s been no successful arrival in Australia. We’ve done it by turning back the boats where it’s safe to do so, by trying to introduce temporary protection visas, by having a genuine off-shore processing programme and making sure those who did come early in the piece were quickly transferred to Manus Island and Nauru. He’s proven that the laws can be implemented to work.
JOURNALIST: Just on another matter, is Mr Sinodinos still a member…ah sorry, still a minister?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Arthur has stood aside from his responsibilities. He’s not being paid as a minister, which means he can’t receive superannuation as a minister. He’s leaving his ministerial office and has been allocated a back bencher’s office in the Senate side of the parliament in Canberra. His staff, of course, are still in place and they are answering to Mathias Cormann, the Minister for Finance. So he’s stood aside from being minister.
JOURNALIST: So he’s not a minister at present?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: He’s not a minister at present, he’s stood aside from being a minister. He’s followed exactly the same precedent as Mick Young, as Ian Sinclair, as Phillip Lynch when they were in similar situations over the years.
And I think what is most noteworthy of course is that Labor is criticising us for maintaining ministerial standards. When they were in power they had not even a passing association with high ministerial standards, and I certainly am not going to be lectured or judged by the Labor Party, which is the party of Craig Thomson and Mike Williamson and Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi and Ian Macdonald. I don’t think they’re in a position to be judging the Liberal Party.
JOURNALIST: Did the Government receive…seek advice from a solicitor in regard to Mr Sinodinos stepping down?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: That’s a question you’d need to put to the Prime Minister’s office.