SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison’s Wentworth desperation; Leaked text messages; Australia-Indonesia relations; Coalition divisions; Barnaby Joyce leadership challenge.

KIERAN GILBERT (CO-HOST): Let's go back to politics now with Laura and me now the Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke. Tony Burke thanks for your time. We thought the leadership dramas were over, far from it. The Nationals now in the middle of this. Would it be more challenging for Labor to go up against the former deputy PM Barnaby Joyce who is often described as one of their better retail politicians?

TONY BURKE, MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS: I don't think it matters. We're in a situation now where the first thing a government needs to be able to offer is stability and a Shorten Labor team is going to be the only group offering stability at the next election. The Liberals have proven that they can't deliver stability. The Nats are proving that they can’t. It used to be the case that the National Party, their whole image was meant to be that they'd be stable they'd be reliable. They’ve just decided to throw that out the window. And before people get to any of the policies the first question they'll be asking is who can deliver a responsible stable government? And the Libs can't, their coalition partners are still in a mess and then the policy conversation just compounds it.

LAURA JAYES (CO-HOST): Tony Burke, Laura Jayes here in Sydney. Thanks so much for your time this morning. One of the things that has stirred this up is a question from Joel Fitzgibbon to Michael McCormack yesterday about whether he'd ever leaked against anyone in his own party or backgrounded a journalist. Now, some have seen this and raised their eyebrows to say the very least. Is this something that Labor might pursue in the Parliament today? This potential misleading of Parliament?

BURKE: I won't go through our tactics in advance. We'll keep it as on notice. But I will say we've got a problem with tactics today that we've had with every day this week; where do you start? Where on earth do you start with a government that's just collapsing before our eyes? We had yesterday in Question Time two misleads from a minister. Their foreign policy is all over the place. No one in fact is offering in terms of anyone on the government benches at the moment anything that is coherent, that is stable, that is methodical and what we're seeing with the National Party is a symptom of that. What we're seeing with Scott Morrison is exactly what you get when you put the advertising guy in charge.

GILBERT: The candidate for Wentworth for the Liberal Party, Dave Sharma, well respected even on the Labor side of politics for his contributions as ambassador to Israel. He'd be regretting putting his hand up for the Liberals right now given the instability that continues within the Coalition. If the Liberal and the Coalition parties were to lose Wentworth do you accept that they would still be able to govern in minority given the vote of the speaker? Given recent history where Labor was able to with even less numbers in the House of Reps?

BURKE: From everything we've seen Scott Morrison will still be Prime Minister. When we say they'd still be able to govern, they'd still be able to govern as well as they can now. But what they're doing now is hardly inspirational.

JAYES: Well that’s probably true I’m sure many people would agree with you this morning. We saw some text messages last night reported by Mark Riley on Channel 7 between Retno Marsudi and the Foreign Minister that there would be implications, this moving of the embassy in Israel, there would be implications for the bilateral relationship with Indonesia. How serious do you think this is now?

BURKE: It's serious on so many levels. First of all what must our neighbours think of us? If you're in the Pacific you're getting routinely abused by a Minister in a restaurant and if you're the Foreign Minister of one of our most important friends your text messages are turning up on the news. So that's before you get to the content of the text messages and the content of the text messages goes to exactly how this government is governing. It appears from Question Time in the Senate yesterday that this decision from Scott Morrison never even went through cabinet. We know that the different embassies that are here in Australia, that are here so they can get forewarned some weeks early on major policy changes, were blindsided by it. Indonesia had apparently some level of short notice that this was coming made their objection perfectly clear and what the Government did step one, went ahead did it anyway but step two, leaks the text message.

Everything about the stability of foreign policy and the bipartisanship that's often there, that's usually there on foreign policy so that Australia is a known, reliable player in the world, this government doesn't care about. All this Prime Minister cares about is how does he get the news cycle today, how does he make the announcement today and effectively he starts with his media strategy and then works out okay what policies do I need to match it?

GILBERT: When you look at this as a decision though, you accept it is still only a discussion. Why shouldn't a sovereign nation, like ours, be allowed to at least have a discussion about something like that? When you look at Jerusalem for example and as you well know the Parliament is in East Jerusalem, the highest court of the land is there as well, for all indications it is the capital. Why not at least have a discussion about it? What's wrong with that?

BURKE: I don't think anyone believes the timing of this discussion was an accident. This has happened a few days before the Wentworth by-election and the people of Wentworth know exactly what game is being played by the Prime Minister. Why was there no Cabinet process? Why was no one given any notice? You can only presume that the advertising guy who is in charge of Australia at the moment was given some focus group research and said we need to do something in this area and turn this around without any process, without our neighbours being advised. That's how we've landed in the mess that we're in right now.

JAYES: Is Israel a rogue nation as Tanya Plibersek suggests?

BURKE: You're talking about a speech that I'm not even sure if that speech was made this century. That's something that was said many, many years ago and Tanya has moved on from that from those claims.

JAYES: It just demonstrates the Labor Party’s history in this particularly fraught political area doesn't it?

BURKE: No for heaven's sake. To pull out a speech that someone made as a backbencher that years ago who is our Deputy Leader, who was our foreign affairs spokesperson for three years is desperation. And if that's all Scott Morrison's got then really we've got to say its desperation.

JAYES: Tony Burke pleasure to have you this morning you probably made light work of it this morning given what's going on on the other side of politics. Appreciate your time.

BURKE: Good to be back on the show.


Tony Burke