Interview with Andrew O’Keefe and Angela Cox – Channel Seven Weekend Sunrise – Sunday 28 February 2016


SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull; multiculturalism

ANDREW O’KEEFE, PRESENTER: It’s been another turbulent week for Malcolm Turnbull who has faced a grilling in Parliament over tax reform, amid claims that he is falling short of voter’s expectations. Joining us to discuss the big issues, the Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Craig Laundy and Shadow Minister for Communications, Jason Clare. Good morning to you gents.
So former PM, John Howard has cautioned current PM to think twice about calling an early election. He said the extra time will allow Malcolm to get his policies out in the public domain, to explain better to the electorate. Is there any advantage to calling any early election at this point Craig?

CRAIG LAUNDY, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS: If you look at the timeline that’s speculated, July – I’ve got to start by saying that this is completely the PM’s call. We don’t know it’s at his leisure. If it is July or August, it’s three years in September, so you are talking two years, ten months or eleven months, somewhere around there. As Christopher Pyne said on Friday, is that early in the perception of the public? – in my electorate, no.

O’KEEFE: I guess it depends on the term you’ve had and some members of the public might say this one can’t end soon enough. We need some certainty that an election would provide. How would Labor feel about an early election?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: We are ready to go but the Libs need some policies. We’ve put policies out there, the Libs don’t have any. We’re united, they’re divided. I think people are getting pretty disappointed that after six months Malcolm Turnbull has talked a lot but hasn’t delivered much. If waffling was an Olympic sport Malcolm would win gold in Rio, but doesn’t deliver anything.

O’KEEFE: Weren’t we all crying out for governments to consider their policies more thoughtfully and not be beholden to the twenty-four hour news cycle.
CLARE: Yes but it’s been two and a half years and what has the government done apart from knight Prince Phillip, make a couple of stuff ups, and sack a few ministers. There’s not much there to count on. I think people are desperately saying, Malcolm stop talking, start delivering.

ANGELA COX, PRESENTER: Craig that’s not just from Labor that is criticism that has been levelled at the PM that he came in, everyone had high hopes but he hasn’t used that popularity to show any real form of leadership, make any changes for tax reform that’s been criticised. What’s your response to that?

LAUNDY: I obviously counter it completely. It’s good for Jas to throw in some glib lines early on a Sunday morning but the reality is working through a tax reform process that takes time. Tax is complex. Working out what you do is complex.

COX: But there are mixed messages from his own MP’s.

LAUNDY: No there is not. We are going to a budget.

COX: There was last week.

LAUNDY: We are going to a budget, we’ve always said this. It’s a process that we will take. We have got to take the public with us on the ride. The complaint from the public in the past has been that things get forced upon them, not explained. We need to work out what we are doing, explain it to the public. We will take it to the budget. That’s always been the timeline that we had in place and that’s what we are keeping to.

O’KEEFE: What about other issues that people expected to see some change, such as refugee policy, such as direct action, such as same sex marriage?

CLARE: That’s the reason that people are starting to be disappointed. They had big hopes. They thought Malcolm Turnbull would be different. They thought he changed the Liberal Party, the Liberal Party has changed him. He’s reversed his position on same sex marriage, in terms of whether the Parliament should vote for it or not, he’s not pushing the republic, he’s not pushing climate change, and he said there would be economic leadership, there’s not much of that either. This is why people are starting to say, is this bloke just Tony Abbott with a better smile and a more expensive suit?

O’KEEFE: Just before we go, Jan Albrechtsen wrote a piece in the Australian saying multiculturalism in Australia is not working, you’re the Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs, what do you think about that Craig?

LAUNDY: Good plug for tomorrow’s Australian, there is a reply from me in it. It’s absolutely working, my kids sit in classes, Jason and I are next door neighbours electorate wise, we don’t talk about multiculturalism we live it. They sit in classes every day with a plethora of nationalities, a plethora of religions, they don’t look through the prism of race or religion they just get on.

CLARE: This is where Craig and I absolutely agree, we are the best country in the world and the reason we are the best country in the world is because we are made up of people from all around the world. That’s what multiculturalism is, it’s working together.

O’KEEFE: I look forward to seeing that piece tomorrow. Gentlemen thanks very much for joining us.