Transcript: Sky News Interview

3.00pm | November 06, 2018




HOST: Let's go live to Sydney now and joining us now is Labor Senator Jenny McAllister.

Jenny McAllister, we will get to your Melbourne Cup tips later, but first I want to ask you about this idea of a dual election next year. I don't think it's been done ever in recent history. What do you think of this idea being floated but it seems to be kiboshed this morning by the PM?

McALLISTER: Yes, well it's a mark of really how desperately obsessed this crowd is about their own jobs, that they are coming up with crazy plans like this. I mean this would be a very, very expensive way to conduct an election. I think it would be extremely unpopular with voters. It hasn't happened for decades. I'm very surprised to see people talking about it, but I think it really is the indication that instead of thinking about how best to govern, what policies do we need for the future? This crowd is desperately thinking of ways for Scott Morrison to hang on to his job. And it’s pretty desperate.

HOST: Having said that, the Government has alluded to - pretty much saying that this is not going to happen understandably it would be a gift for Labor if the Government were to do this because it would, as you have said already this morning, in using the term desperate, it would look like they are going to try to cling to power, so they are not going to do it. I don't think Labor's interests will be front of mind in this sense and they will be going to an election in March you would think next year?

McALLISTER: Well, the election timing is up to them but somebody has briefed this out to a journalist. Somebody in the Liberal Party has been thinking about this. They are desperately scrabbling around looking for ways to extend Mr Morrison's term, to hang on to power. They really need to just accept that at some point they're going to have to face the verdict of the Australian people.

HOST: Senator, is Bill Shorten's job made harder with Scott Morrison at the helm rather than Malcolm Turnbull? We know that Malcolm Turnbull wasn't all that popular in Queensland. We are seeing the big blue bus being driven up and down the coast this week with Scott Morrison really already in campaign mode, is it a tighter race with Scott Morrison as Prime Minister?

McALLISTER: I really think that their big problem on the Liberal side is that they've got a bunch of policies that nobody likes. They've got a legacy of cutting services that people really care about like health and education over their last five years. They haven't achieved really anything on energy policy and we are in their fifth year of office without any energy policy to speak of. It doesn't really matter from our perspective who is leading the Liberal Party. Our concern is actually with the policies, not with the people, and I suspect that is what Mr Morrison will find when he is out and about talking to people. I note that this trip to Queensland is a rare visit for Mr Morrison. Queensland is not a state he has spent a lot of time in. I think he will find that people there are very tired with the kind of self-obsessed way that people are running the Government from Canberra and looking for something a little more substantial.

HOST: From the trip to Queensland to this trip now to China by the Foreign Minister, Marise Payne - do you welcome the fact that there has been a thawing in the by-lateral relations that Marise Payne will be there later this week?

McALLISTER: It’s really pleasing to see the Chinese recognising the significance of the relationship between Australia and China, and from our perspective there is obviously few relationships that are as important. We have to handle this right over the next couple of decades because our region is going through a period of real change and, you know, Penny, Bill, both have talked about this. What's needed is real clarity about where our interests lie and consistency in how we talk to the Chinese Government about these things - and unfortunately what's happened over the last couple of years is that the Government has really bungled this. They’ve had people, front benchers, selling all kinds of very difference messages about what our posture is towards China, and unsurprisingly it's been received pretty badly. We haven't had a Prime Minister or a Foreign Minister visit China since the election. It's a real problem so I'm very pleased to see some kind of thawing of relations, but the Government really needs to get some sort of discipline back in the way their frontbench is talking about these issues.

HOST: But when we talk about consistency of message, do you have some criticism then, for Daniel Andrews who signed onto the Belt and Road strategy. They have essentially gone it alone in Victoria and the MOU is secret.

McALLISTER: Look, my understanding is that this is an MOU. I don't know a lot about the details - I've got as much as you do.

HOST: No one does Jenny McAllister because the Government in Victoria is refusing to make them public. Are you comfortable with that?

McALLISTER: Well, our position federally is pretty clear. We are not providing any blanket endorsement of the Belt and Road initiative. We think that there's obviously a huge need for infrastructure in our region and across the economy. Where there are projects that we think are in Australia's national interests, we're very interested to get involved, see them go ahead. Where we don't think they're in our national interest, we won't.

HOST: Labor Senator, Jenny McAllister, thanks for your time.

McALLISTER: Thanks Keiren.

HOST: Talk to you soon, we are out of time.