TRANSCRIPT: RADIO INTERVIEW ABC RN BREAKFAST MONDAY, 25 MARCH 2019
ABC RN BREAKFAST
MONDAY, 25 MARCH 2019
SUBJECT/S: NSW State election; 2019 Federal Election; Scott Morrison refuses to rule out One Nation preferences
FRAN KELLY (HOST): He's a senior Shadow Minister & strategist, Tony Burke welcome back to breakfast.
TONY BURKE, MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS: Hi Fran.
KELLY: Primary support for State Labor fell to just 33% it makes it tough to win the federal election which is one in three voters in your traditional stronghold state only one in three prepared to back Labor isn’t it?
BURKE: Well, first of all, and I’m not dodging it, but I have to start by saying congratulations to Gladys Berejiklian. There’s been a lot written about the win and obviously, any defeat hurts and it was largely not many seats changed. It was an unusual election in that way but congratulations to the Premier. She’s won and that needs to be said from the start.
In terms of lessons for the Labor Party, I think there’s for everybody, you can always in every election, there are some things to learn. There are two key messages I think on this one, the first is, we all have to look at what’s happening outside the major cities. Outside the major cities there is a growth of minor parties that really is a shift, but the second message that I think's really clear where federally we are in very different position, is the concept of changing leaders and re-introducing yourself in the course of 100 days which was the task that we'd given ourselves this time. Is something that the public wants, the public wants stability. The public wants to know exactly what you stand for and when you’re coming in a short campaign in that way, not only is that a disadvantage in itself but it also allows for things to be derailed in the final week the way they were.
KELLY: Sure there’s always that. But if Labor can’t win in a Western Sydney seat like working-class East Hills, the most marginal electorate just 0.4%. What hope do you think you have federally of picking up coalition-held Federal seats like Banks for instance? Arthur Sinodinos says after this election they are more confident of holding Banks and maybe picking up Lindsay where Labor’s got issues with Emma Husar. They are more confident about holding seats like Gilmore.
BURKE: Yeah, no doubt they are more confident. Looking at Scott Morrison on election night where he declared the Federal result, that confidence will express itself through arrogance. The way Scott Morrison’s demeanour was on Saturday night is the exact person that I think shows his true colours and exactly what turns the electorate off. They don’t want an arrogant Prime Minister shouting at them through a microphone into their lounge rooms. That’s exactly how he will now behave and I don’t think in the long term as we get through the next few weeks of this till the federal election, that’s in their interests but it’s certainly a message that people won’t miss.
KELLY: Does this result in NSW suggest that voter discontent at the leadership turmoil in Canberra that was there at the end of last year and all that policy uncertainty over the issues like climate change has washed through the system? I mean, this was not the Victorian result where those factors seem to be very present. Voters are not waiting on their porches perhaps, aiming their baseball bats.
BURKE: It’s true that it wasn’t the thumping victory that Dan Andrews had that’s absolutely true in Victoria.
KELLY: Where we know those issues did play a part.
BURKE: They did, and they were deliberately campaigned on that occasion as well. On this occasion, Labor kept to a very tight frame of comparing different spending decisions such as hospitals and schools to the stadiums and kept very strictly to that. You go to the Victorian billboards, for example, there were big images of Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison, over the top of the state leader there Matthew Guy. There was a very deliberate connection. On this occasion it wasn’t done that way and so while that doesn’t mean you can’t take federal lessons I think you do have to acknowledge it was a very different campaign that was run.
KELLY: Would you concede that the voters have rewarded the state Liberal Government, this is what Arthur Sinodinos has just told us, for running a strong economy with a strong infrastructure program and therefore we’ve got this federal Government which is running a strong infrastructure program. It's building a second airport in Sydney, $19 billion for Victorian trains including a fast train between Melbourne & Geelong, I think it was a $78 billion federal infrastructure package at the last budget wasn’t it? Do you think that’s a good sign for Scott Morrison and the Coalition?
BURKE: I think Arthur's reading a lot of what he wants to into the tea leaves there. The fact is we had a status quo result. There was a really strong disengagement from the voters and NSW Labor had an absolutely dreadful final week, comments emerged from the beginning of that week which were unacceptable, needed to be apologised for and were, but the entire momentum for the Labor Party collapsed in that final week. If it was, as Arthur Sinodinos said, some sort of endorsement of infrastructure projects, well there would be two things. One; there would have been a different level of engagement and they would have improved their vote. And two; Sydney wouldn’t look the way it does. You look around it’s not like any of these infrastructure projects are finished, the place is a mess.
KELLY: Yes but clearly they judged that state Labor hasn’t built anything so they’ve given Gladys Berejiklian a leave pass on that.
BURKE: Well no, what happened was in the final week, we looked like we were not ready for Government.
KELLY: Given that those comments that you’ve just condemned from Michael Daley that came out in that final week. You're one of the most senior Labor people in NSW, does Michael Daley deserve to stay on as State leader, Opposition leader rather?
BURKE: As a Federal member I’m not going to get involved in State leadership issues. But in terms of those comments themselves, I condemn those in the strongest terms. Michael himself now would as well. One of the things that need to be understood is the Australian people are at a point now where we do not want to hear anything that is divisive within the country. That’s exactly why the NSW Liberals did not preference One Nation and yet only today we find the Federal Liberals out there declaring on an individual basis that they want to preference One Nation.
KELLY: They are, but as I was just pushing Arthur Sinodinos on, he says that we will repudiate any party which stands for stuff outside the mainstream including One Nation that are out there talking about racism and Islamophobia.
BURKE: You can’t repudiate someone in the one breath and put them into Parliament in the next breath. And that’s what preferencing means. When you talk about a party that has a primary vote as strong as One Nation, Ken O'Dowd on ABC radio his morning
KELLY: Yeah we just heard him.
BURKE: They’ve got 17% in his seat at the last election, that will go up. If you preference them in those circumstances you are not simply saying it’s a deal to get ourselves over the line, you are risking putting them into Parliament. Fraser Anning, last election was on the One Nation ticket.
KELLY: Could this result make some Labor branches and candidates nervous about Bill Shorten’s promise last week to put One Nation last on how to vote cards?
BURKE: Not at all. Not from Labor’s perspective. We need to put One Nation last and the Government needs to do the same. John Howard was willing to put One Nation last because he knew the damage they could do to the Country. How, after what the world has seen in the last few weeks Scott Morrison can’t reach the same resolve is beyond me.
KELLY: Tony Burke thank you very much for joining us.
BURKE: Great to be back.