The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development
Transcript of Today Show ‘In the House’ segment
with Karl Stefanovic
Subjects: Arthur Sinodinos, WA Senate election
Karl Stefanovic: Welcome back to the show. As one Senator faces a grilling in New South Wales six more dig in for political survival as Western Australia heads back to the polls. Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek joins me in the studio and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull joins us as well. I guess you could say we have Malcolm in the middle.
Malcolm Turnbull: I'm in the middle of a very small cupboard in Melbourne, but anyway it’s good to be here.
Stefanovic: You look very big on the TV don't worry about that. Let's start with you Malcolm. Arthur Sinodinos, how did he go yesterday?
Turnbull: These things are always tough experiences. But I’ll just say this I have known Arthur for a long time, Australians have known Arthur for a long time. He was really one of the principal pillars of the Howard Government, one of the most successful governments in our history. He's been made an extraordinary contribution, he's having a tough period at the moment, but let's wait until this inquiry is over. Remember it's not an inquiry into Arthur, it's an inquiry into the water company and it's already been made clear by the Commissioner that there's no suggestion he's acted corruptly or anything like that. It is embarrassing, and would be, you know it's obvious no fun for him, but I don't think we should get overwhelmed by the rather - the circus that always attends these inquiries.
Stefanovic: It's not so much the circus so much, he did a good job of it yesterday himself?
Turnbull: Well, look, you know I didn't - I wasn't watching it, you know blow by blow, but these are very awkward and difficult environments to be in.
Stefanovic: Especially if you have done the wrong thing. He wasn't aware of an awful lot Malcolm: the lavish expenses, the extent of the political donations, the extraordinary salaries paid for by rate payers, nor could he remember warnings about the company's financial state. I could go on and on for about three hours.
Turnbull: Well don't do that, we will run out of time. If I may say, Arthur did the right thing and stepped aside while this is going on. Really the big issue now -- the big issue is the Senate election in Western Australia, the last federal election West Australians voted overwhelmingly for the Coalition, gave us a mandate to repeal the carbon tax and the mining tax and Labor is opposing that in the Senate. West Australians if they want us to deliver on what they asked us to do in September have got to vote Liberal on Saturday.
Stefanovic: I can see what you’re trying to do here but we’ll get onto Western Australia in just one second. But one more point about Arthur, the problem here for you is this guy was your Assistant Treasurer, it goes to your party's judgment. Do you concede now that you made the wrong call?
Turnbull: I'm not making any concessions. There should be no rush to judgment there. He's been in the box for a day. I mean look I used to be a barrister, barristers can be very - you can make people look unsure, uncertain, all of that stuff.
Stefanovic: Malcolm, he did a good job of it yesterday himself. He really did.
Turnbull: Karl, this is a very tough environment. Let's wait and see what the findings of the Commission are.
Stefanovic: All right, Tanya?
Tanya Plibersek: Can I just say a couple of things about this? This raises questions for the Prime Minister, because the Prime Minister has made Arthur Sinodinos Assistant Treasurer. That's the job that is responsible for corporate governance. Arthur Sinodinos was the person in Australia who was supposed to design the laws that make company directors and others responsible to their shareholders. I think it's very plain that that wasn't a good decision now. But what's even more curious is a couple of weeks ago when we were in the parliament one day Tony Abbott was absolutely backing Arthur Sinodinos, less than 24 hours he was happy to step aside. What did the Prime Minister know and when did he know it?
Stefanovic: Alright, they are trying to turn it into that Malcolm, your response?
Turnbull: Tanya is entitled to ask all these questions, the Prime Minister has dealt with them. Arthur, obviously was confronted with this. He thought about it, he made the judgment to step aside pending the conclusion of this inquiry. That was a very –that was the right thing to do, it was a very manly thing to do, if that's not an inappropriate adverb, and so he's done that, and we await the judgment of the Commission.
Stefanovic: This is a very difficult position, I gather, for the rest of the party, but I think Arthur, would you ever consider down the track allowing him back into something as serious as Assistant Treasurer, or is he gone, is he done, is he finished?
Turnbull: Well, you know the Prime Minister, who chooses the ministry, has said that he expects him to come back as Assistant Treasurer.
Stefanovic: He can't now, he can’t now.
Turnbull: Well Karl, that's your opinion. You're entitled to it. Let's wait and see the outcome of the Commission.
Stefanovic: Let's just go to WA now as Malcolm flagged before as he was trying to get us off topic. He's very clever that Malcolm, isn’t he Tanya?
Plibersek: He is.
Turnbull: It didn't work.
Stefanovic: You’re backing candidate Joe Bullock. This guy Joe Bullock is a very interesting guy, he described the ALP as an untrustworthy party full of mad members. This is the guy that you’re backing over there. He was recorded at a Perth function saying the party needs him in parliament or it would follow every weird lefty trend that you could imagine. He also said he would rather be expelled from the party than vote in support of gay marriage and abortion. This is the sort guy that you are backing?
Plibersek: That’s why we have a conscious vote on same-sex marriage and abortion and he’s got every right not to vote for it.
Stefanovic: What about the other stuff - an untrustworthy party?
Plibersek: Well I don’t know, he might have had a good dinner that night I'm not sure. He's someone who was worked for the working people of Western Australia for 30 years. I was just there a couple of days ago talking about penalty rates and the potential that people will lose up to a third of their take home pay, people who are cleaners...
Stefanovic: This guy is not your cup of tea, though, Jo Bullock?
Plibersek: We are a very broad party. We are, we’re a very broad party.
Stefanovic: Alright you two, finally very quickly because we are out of time, have you both started sucking up to Clive Palmer?
Turnbull: Can I just say Karl, leaving aside Clive for a second, our candidates in Western Australia, David Johnson the Defence Minister, Michaelia Cash an outstanding minister and Linda Reynolds at No.3, a brigadier general, a woman, a brigadier general in the Australian Army reserve...
Plibersek: The trouble is Malcolm...
Turnbull: We don't have to be apologetic to our candidates.
Plibersek: People don't want to send a message to Tony Abbott that what Colin Barnett has been doing for Western Australia is just fine for the rest of the country, health cuts and education cuts.
Stefanovic: Joe Bullock if he gets in, it is unlikely, but he will be an interesting member for you. Thank you very much you two. We’ll see you next time.