Transcript: Sky News 31/10/2019

2.20pm | November 04, 2019




ANNELISE NIELSEN, HOST: Joining us live now to discuss everything in today's politics is Jenny McAllister, Labor MP. Jenny, thank you so much for your time.




HOST: The big discussion within Labor today has been this speech from Clare O'Neil. She said that being patronising to voters cost Labor support with the election. Do you agree?


MCALLISTER: Look we're going through a process where a lot of people are having their say about what they think went wrong and what the future is for Labor and of course, that's all in the context of our review of the election and that we expect is going to be released sometime at the end of this week. I actually haven't yet seen Clare's speech, so I can't quite comment on all the detail, but I do know Clare and she is a very thoughtful and considered contributor. I might make this broad observation perhaps about politics here in Australia but also globally. I think there is too much shouting and it is really important that people who want to participate in politics - whether they are people who are in positions like mine in the Parliament, or people that are simply participating on social media, or people that are doing it locally you know in their P&Cs, in their football clubs - we've all actually got to be able to listen to one and other. We've got to be able to civilly engage in perspectives that are different to our own and we need to be able to listen to those perspectives and explore them and understand them, and I do think that there's space in Australian politics for a shift in that direction. I think that goes for the entire Australian political class and I think if we want to sustain democratic practices, democratic habits, we actually really need to start practising them, learning them and the core of a democratic society is the ability to listen to other perspectives and explore them.


HOST: Absolutely, and I think as this interview is an excellent example of that because we get to flesh out exactly what you think in a very non-shouty way, so I will ask you again about these comments that Clare O'Neil did give to The Australian newspaper and it's ahead of her speech tonight that she has given these quotes that are on the record. She said opposing views are being treated as obviously wrong and a person giving them probably stupid and probably subhuman. That was the approach by the progressives within the Labor Party. So, on that point, do you think that Labor could be engaging in more respectful rhetoric as you say about the need for more respectful interaction with people who disagree with you?


MCALLISTER: Look, as I said, I haven't seen the detail or the context for Clare's speech and I'll reserve my remarks until after I have. But, I do think that there is an imperative for everyone involved in politics right across the spectrum of Left and Right and at all levels of politics to be a little bit more respectful. I don't think that social media is helping. I think that it inclines people towards absolutist positions and I think that a greater curiosity about this perspective of others, a greater willingness to explore other people's ideas would do our country a great service.


HOST: What do you think Labor could be doing better?


MCALLISTER: We're part of that story. We need to lead. We need to lead through our own behaviours and demonstrate what it looks like when we're really listening. And you've seen, I think, not just Anthony Albanese, but in fact all of Labor's Front Bench, making an enormous effort in the last six months to recognise that we lost the election. That, that of course means that there are plenty of people in the Australian community who didn't like some, or all of what we were offering and to go out in a spirit of genuine curiosity and find out what it was that they thought about the election, about our policy offering, about our priorities and absorb that information and process it. That's one way that I think we're trying to show leadership in establishing a tone in the political conversation that is constructive and based on respect and engagement not merely dismissing the ideas of people who are opposed to, appear to be opposed to us in the first instance.


HOST: One of the really interesting discussions that we've had about Labor in the past week has been prompted by the speech that Anthony Albanese gave in Perth. He was talking about the need to refocus the conversation around climate change towards jobs and making it more of a job creation story than a potential tax story because we've such a huge hit back in the election from that. What did you make of that particular pivot from Anthony Albanese, especially before we have seen this official review?


MCALLISTER: I think.. I worked on climate change personally for lots of my career, inside and outside of politics and I really want to see climate action. But we find ourselves in this position where we've got a Greens Party on the one hand that seems basically indifferent to jobs and a Liberal Party on the other hand that seems basically indifferent to climate and it's really only the Labor Party that can be interested in both and is interested in both and so from my perspective, Anthony's remarks represent continuity. That's always been our approach to climate issues and in fact it's always been our approach to environmental issues overall. We can't hope to make progress unless we can reassure people about the future of our economy. We can't have environmental action or environmental reform unless people are absolutely certain that they and their family are going to have a secure job and they're going to have a roof over their heads and they're going to be secure financially. At the moment one in four Australians feel insecure and uncertain about the future of the job they're in at the moment and they're also uncertain about whether they'd be able to get another job if they were made redundant. I think that insecurity is driving a lot of challenges in the electorate. It's very hard to talk to people about big new things if people are really worried about the basics. And I guess that's at the heart of what Anthony's story was earlier this week. He was saying that a Labor Government will pay close attention to the jobs of the future. In all of the industries across agriculture, services, in the creative economy and manufacturing, we need to be thinking about what those jobs are going to look like in the future, we need to plan for them, we need to make sure we have the skills to fill those positions as they become available and where people do find themselves in an industry that's in transition we need to able to support those people. We can’t leave them alone during this transition without support. 


HOST: No, absolutely. If I could ask  you about just one final topic of the day and that's been the Nationals they have been in turmoil for the last two weeks really with their drought response, there's been a lot of different perspectives and David Gillespie on Sky News this morning given three opportunities to support Bridget McKenzie, wouldn't come through with that. Do you think this does show internal division? 


MCALLISTER: Look, it’s all a question of priorities isn't it? If you are focused on yourselves, if you are focused on doing sneaky deals with the Cross Bench on the Senate or focused on who is going to be in the leadership position in the Nationals Party room, it's very hard to focus on the issues that actually matter. So in their core constituency, in agriculture and resources people are hurting, they are experiencing one of the worst droughts in living memory but we don't have a drought response that's coherent. We are yet to see the report on the drought from the Drought Coordinator and there's been no meaningful response to Labor's offer to form a bi-partisan you know, essentially wartime cabinet to help Australian craft a response to this problem. And that's what today's comments show me, that whether it's Bridget McKenzie or David Gillespie, they're all off arguing about who's going to sit in the top chair but people in farming communities are really suffering and I would  say to the National Party, I think it's time you returned your focus to the people who need your help.


HOST: Jenny McAllister, thank you for your time. 


MCALLISTER: That's a pleasure, thank you.  




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