Transcript: Sky News

1.45pm | December 04, 2018



SUBJECTS: Coalition leadership, Encryption Bill
KIEREN GILBERT, HOST: Joining us now for a discussion of that and other issues of the day, Jenny McAllister for the Labor Party and Tony Pasin of the Liberals. Great to see you both.
Thank you.
GILBERT: Well, all the focus is around the Liberals now, it's hard not to Tony. Given the rules which were adopted late last night. What are your thoughts on this? It does seem in the sense too little too late after the events of the last couple of years.
TONY PASIN MP: Well, Kieran it's never too late. The reality is we've responded to what is clearly public sentiment. The public are mightily sick and tired of this, which of course, began a long time ago under Labor, continued under us and we want to adopt some rules which make it clear to the Australian people that we have heard them and we know they're sick and tired of this and we are denying ourselves effectively, what is one of the strongest instruments in this place and that is the ability of the Party room to choose its leader.
So, we will choose that leader and we will present them to the election. If they are elected Prime Minister then it’s nigh impossible for that to be changed.
LAURA JAYES, HOST: Tony Pasin, you denying the Party the gift of the Party room, that being the Prime Ministership. Is this something that John Howard has always argued for? Why the need to go against that?
PASIN: Well, Laura quite frankly we need to do this because we need to re-establish trust with the Australian people. This is a very serious measure as you point out, but one that we've taken very seriously and for good reason.
GILBERT: Let's get Jenny McAllister's thoughts on this because I guess imitation is the best form of flattery isn't it?
SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES: I think the Liberal Party may understand the nature of their problem. My analysis for what it's worth would be this. That the real problem for the Liberals at the moment is a total division about who they are and what they stand for. This is a deep ideological division. We see it every day in our Chamber. We see it in the public reporting of comments from people like Kelly O'Dwyer where she's concerned obviously that the Liberals are perceived as a party of homophobes, climate deniers, people who don't understand or promote women. These are deep ideological divides and I don't think that changing the leadership rules is going to put an end to the chaos and the division that is a consequence of that ideological divide about who the modern Liberal Party are and who they represent.
JAYES: Yea, Tony Pasin - the ideological divide that Jenny McAllister talks about, do you believe it's a problem going to the next election and how do you fix it?
PASIN: Well, Laura, ours has always been a movement that has been a broad church. Now, I'm not going to accept Jenny when she says that ideologically the Liberal Party is homophobic. Now that's just rubbish quite frankly…
MCALLISTER: Kelly O’Dwyer said that…
PASIN:…and well if you want to push it as an ideology a matter for you but it's not an ideology of the Liberal Party, and it's one I absolutely reject. But the reality here is recent events, and indeed even the events yesterday I think are dragging us together. Are unifying us and the Labor Party ought to be scared of a unified Liberal Party because we are the natural party of government and when we do our best work we do it together and that's what I'm seeing in recent days. We are coming together and we will be unified because nothing drags us together more than the prospect of Bill Shorten as Prime Minister of this country. Its scares the living you know what out of us, Kieran.
GILBERT: Senator McAllister is Labor unified when it comes to the position on the encryption laws because the security agencies certainly are of one voice that they need them and they want these laws done by the end of the week?
MCALLISTER: Our approach is that the most important thing is to get these laws right. So, this is a process that has been in train since Senator Brandis kicked it off, 18 months ago. There has been plenty of time for the Government to work through the issues and it's frankly a problem that they've brought the Bill in its current form to the Parliament as they did in September. We think we need to take the time to get it right and that is certainly a unified view in the Party room.
JAYES: Well, Tony Pasin, you heard it there from Labor. They want to do a deal to get this done by Wednesday. Was it wrong of the Prime Minister to say that Bill Shorten is happy to see the terrorists use encryption?
PASIN: Well Laura, I'm an ex-criminal lawyer. I know how important it is to give our law enforcement agencies the tools they need. These are the tools they need, the tools they want and quite frankly whatever is required to achieve that needs to be pursued. Now I'm disappointed it's taken the Labor Party some time to come to the realisation that these are the kind of powers that are needed. It's gob smacking for me that it's taken this long, but let's hope that they've come to that realisation and that we can deliver the tools that our law enforcement agencies need.
GILBERT: Is it unfair though of you and some of your colleagues to criticise Labor on this issue, when they've offered bipartisanship? They're trying to be constructive and yet yesterday one of your colleagues said that they were basically being a protection racket for terrorists.
PASIN: Kieran, I'm not sure about this bipartisanship from memory. I heard the Attorney-General all day yesterday making clear that what he received was effectively a petulant letter from the Shadow Attorney-General on this issue, so it's very rich for people to come out and say we are offering bipartisanship. The reality is that the Prime Minister called the Labor Party out yesterday and he should have and he did and I hope that we can resolve this matter quickly because it is in the interests of our national security.
MCALLISTER: Can I jump in there.
JAYES: Go for it Jenny.
MCALLISTER: Because that is a misrepresentation from beginning to end of the approach that we have taken. I sit on the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and Security. We have dealt with this legislation seriously from the day it was brought to us in September. We are seeking to work through a very complex Bill. We've had submissions before us from industry, from defence export, from security export firms, from lawyers, from civil liberties organisations saying there are serious deficiencies with the Bill. We've had advice from the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security that there are deficiencies in the Bill. We've had advice from the President of the Senate that the Bill does not appropriately protect Parliamentary Privilege. These are serious matters that ought to have been worked through frankly before the Bill was even brought to the Parliament. None the less, on the Committee we have tried to work these things as we always do. That process was on track until the ultimatums were presented by Mr Morrison and Mr Dutton a couple of weeks ago, demanding that this Bill be passed before Christmas. We have crafted an interim solution. The Government ought to negotiate with us in a bipartisan way as they have under every other Prime Minister.
GILBERT: Senator I appreciate your time. Senator McAllister, Tony Pasin thanks for your time.