Standing up for Canberra

Transcript: Interview with Mark Parton

SUBJECTS: Q&A, Killing Season

MARK PARTON: We’re joined by Gai Brodtmann who is the federal member for Canberra, for the Labor Party. Hello Gai.


PARTON: And Liberal Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja. G’day Zed.

ZED SESELJA, LIBERAL SENATOR FOR THE ACT: Good morning Mark, morning Gai.

PARTON: Zed, they must have lost your phone number or your email because I’ve got a request here from the ABC’s Q&A program and they want you to appear on next Monday night’s program. So I may as well just ask you, are you up for that or not?

SESELJA: That’s very good Mark. I think that Q&A – look my view is that it’s generally stacked with lefty audiences and quite often lefty panels.

PARTON: So you could balance it. You could balance it. And you know, if indeed hypothetically?

SESELJA: I’m waiting for the call mate, I’m waiting for the call.

PARTON: So if you did get the call hypothetically would you say yes?

SESELJA: Well look I think it would depend on the scenario Mark. I think it would be much better if we saw more balance on Q&A. I thought that what they did this week was disgraceful. I don’t really understand why there was such a determination to give such a platform to people who hate this country. I think that’s what most Australians would be scratching their heads about. This gentleman is now saying that he’s been in the audience a number of times. They gave him a platform which I don’t think was a reasonable one. I think they’ve acknowledged that now but this isn’t the first time and we do tend to see a pattern of a lot of people who don’t tend to like Australia very much getting a pretty strong platform on the ABC and on Q&A in particular. Those are some of the questions that need to be asked, as well as the general balance of the ABC.

PARTON: Alright Tony Jones and co if you’re listening, Zed Seselja hasn’t ruled out appearing if you do run out of options. We note that Kevin Andrews has stated he doesn’t wish to. Gai, you’d be up for it though wouldn’t you?

BRODTMANN: Actually it’s funny you should say that Mark because I got an email from someone yesterday saying ‘why haven’t you been on Q&A?’ Well I haven’t actually been asked yet but I will carefully consider it, should I be asked. But it is interesting that Kevin Andrews has knocked back the request, although I understand that Christopher Pyne has said that given the opportunity, that he wants to get out there and air the Coalition’s view on issues. So there’s a bit of a mixed response in the Liberal Party room.

PARTON: Zak Mallah, should he have appeared on that program? Should he have been given the opportunity to ask that question of Ciobo? Should it have happened?

BRODTMANN: Well the ABC provides an important and highly valued service and our view it that editorial decisions are a matter for the individual outlets. But I think the ABC made a mistake on this one.

PARTON: Alright. You heard the little bit that we were talking about prior to coming to you about Bill Shorten and him conceding to Neil Mitchell that perhaps he hadn’t told the whole truth back in 2013. Is this a big deal? Because a lot of people seem to think it is a big deal, Zed?

SESELJA: Well I think what we’ve seen in the Killing Season is obviously the grave dysfunction that existed in the previous government and the deep hatred I suppose coming to light and I guess that’s never a great reminder to the Australian people, or perhaps it’s an important reminder about what went on before. Look, Bill Shorten, who knows exactly what he was doing in terms of each of these plots? He backed one then he backed the other and then he changed his mind several times. I think there are much bigger questions around Bill Shorten and his judgement at the moment. Obviously there’s history with the AWU, I think there’s the policy direction he’s taking the Opposition in. It seems that the left of the Labor Party now has more say than they’ve ever had and that’s why they’ll bring back the carbon tax and that’s why they won’t support any sensible fiscal repairs. So I think Bill Shorten hasn’t had a very good few weeks. Obviously this stuff is compounding that and compounding the views of many in the Australian public about him.

PARTON: Is it a real big deal, Gai Brodtmann?

BRODTMANN: Well Bill has corrected the record and as he said this is history. But if you want to talk about broken promises and lying – I mean what did the Prime Minister say before the election – that there would be no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to the ABC and SBS and no changes to the pension. And we’ve seen all of that and more since this Government has been elected -

PARTON: And as far as you’re concerned, that’s worse?

BRODTMANN: It is history. I can tell you now that the Caucus that I’m in is vastly different from the Caucus of my first term. It’s inclusive, it’s consultative. Bill is an inclusive and consultative leader. He takes advice from Caucus members, he seeks their advice and he mines their skills and expertise. It’s vastly different from last term.

PARTON: How much longer do you think he’s got Zed?

SESELJA: Oh look it’s hard to know. I think there would be many in the Labor Party who are probably wishing they hasn’t imposed these difficult rules on themselves that makes it so difficult to remove the leader. I’m sure those conversations are taking place within the Labor Party. But I think the real, biggest issue to the leadership of the Labor Party is the kind of policies they’re still advocating. Bill Shorten would bring back a carbon tax, Bill Shorten would tax peoples super, raid peoples super and Bill Shorten would blow out the Budget even more than when they were last in Government. So that’s what they would be weighing up. Do they have an alternative leader who actually might change the policies so that the Australian people get a genuine political force on the Labor Party side.

PARTON: We’ve seen some theatrical people up in Parliament over the years. But when it comes to theatrics, Sam Dastyari, he takes the cake, doesn’t he?

SESELJA: They call him Dasher, but I thought Prancer would be a better term for Sam. And I think some of his colleagues have made very similar comments to me privately. Sam does like the limelight and obviously does like reenacting things. I liked, I think it was this week, where Sam Dastyari said that Bill Shorten has his full support. So I’m glad that that’s all settled.

PARTON: Gai is thinking - are they going to get me to comment here. I still love it when listeners call in and say, I didn’t hear what was said at the press conference but whatever it was, he has my full support.

BRODTMANN: Sam is actively engaged in a range of committees and is interested in a number of issues. Most recently he’s been involved with credit card interest rates and the fact that the cut in interest rates is not being passed on to consumers -

SESELJA: I think that’s a very diplomatic answer from Gai.

BRODTMANN: He’s engaged in a number of ways, positive ways and constructive ways.

PARTON: Gai I can always guarantee you’ll tow the party line and you’ll do it well. Thanks for coming on this morning Gai Brodtmann.

BRODTMANN: Thanks Mark, thanks Zed.