TRANSCRIPT: TELEVISION INTERVIEW - SKY NEWS THURSDAY, 23 AUGUST 2018
SUBJECT: Liberal Party leadership crisis.
KIERAN GILBERT (HOST): Joining me live in the Canberra studio now is the manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke. Mr Burke thanks very much for your time. Can you talk us through Labor’s strategy in the Parliament yesterday in terms of the way you approached things? Because obviously there's a rich banquet of options for Labor right now in terms of how you target this particular matter.
TONY BURKE, MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS: Well, there are two separate matters we had to deal with yesterday. The first was the large number of ministers who claim that they are loyal supporters of the Prime Minister and they're not. It is almost impossible to believe that they were being straightforward in their answers yesterday when they gave their declarations of loyalty to the Prime Minister. If you notice how they answered it they would only say the word ‘yes’. They would make sure there was no completed sentence for most of them where they in fact supported the Prime Minister. I think only one of them gave a completed sentence on it.
But the other issue of course is we don't know whether Peter Dutton is eligible to be a member of Parliament and we had presumed that there would have been legal advice that the Government had. We asked those questions, the Prime Minister was very candid in his answers that the only legal advice that exists on the Government side is Peter Dutton’s own legal advice. The Prime Minister has never seen it. There are really serious question marks over whether or not the man who wants to be Prime Minister of Australia later on today is even eligible to be a member of Parliament.
And this is because of his financial interests. The constitution's clear, you can't be taking cash for your business from the Government and at the same time be a member of Parliament. And so there are really serious questions to answer here.
GILBERT: When you look at this approach from Labor is it because you're fearing a Dutton leadership because it would change the dynamic? You feel like you've got the measure of Malcolm Turnbull and so are you going so hard at Dutton right now. Is that part of the thinking?
BURKE: Look, we have dealt with Tony Abbott before and Peter Dutton is effectively Tony Abbott's puppet. He's Tony Abbott Mark II. When you saw him inventing tax policy on the run yesterday, a quick thought bubble, announce it as policy, my mind went straight back to knights and dames. This bloke is just following the same sort of pattern already on his next day after the challenge as to how Tony Abbott used to behave. He’s Tony Abbott's puppet. That's what he's like. He has the record of being the worst health minister that we've had. Voted by doctors as being Australia's worst ever health minister. The man who gave us GP tax, the man who ripped $50 million out of hospitals. That's who he is.
GILBERT: As a former policeman, in a political sense does he have that appeal that could be potent to cut through that Malcolm Turnbull doesn't? He’s no ‘top end of town’ individual like you say the harbour side Prime Minister is. This is a former cop from Queensland, he can talk in every man's language.
BURKE: If he's got to go back and say that 20 years ago he was doing something constructive, but his career since then has been a bit of a mess he can make that argument. It's a different situation to what we were arguing with respect to the challenges with Malcolm Turnbull. But a whole lot of it goes back to the same sort of issues that we were arguing when Tony Abbott was there. If you look at the people who are running this, you look at the different personalities whether it's Eric Abetz, your Kevin Andrews, the different people who are involved. It's the exact same people who 10 years ago got rid of Malcolm Turnbull to put Tony Abbott in. They’re now wanting to get rid of Malcolm Turnbull to put Tony Abbott Mark II in.
GILBERT: So you feel like you feel like you've got his measure regardless is your point?
BURKE: We know who this man is and Australian knows who this man is. What we don't know is whether Peter Dutton is even allowed to be in the Parliament.
GILBERT: So what's your strategy today then from an opposition perspective?
BURKE: The Government get to ask themselves dixers, we're not going to telegraph the questions now. But what I can say first of all against all of this, Australians just must be looking aghast. We've learnt our lessons from any instability that happened when we were in office and the Government have taken those moments of instability and used them as a ‘how to guide’ and then just ramped up the volume.
I remember as a kid on a Saturday morning you'd watch Looney Tunes.
Now that's the show on the evening news. This building is collapsing into itself and the ones who are doing it don't seem to care. It’s all about the soul of the Liberal Party, for heaven's sake, what happened to the Government of the nation?
GILBERT: Mr Burke I appreciate your time we'll talk to you soon.