Sky News – 23 March 2018

March 23, 2018

TOM CONNELL: Joining me now we’ve got our weekly panel to discuss a few issues of the week, and maybe some we missed along the way as well, Labor MP Graham Perrett and Liberal Senator Jane Hume are with us this week. Thanks both for your time. First of all, let’s start on a bit of a talk about the minor parties. There was a heap of talk about how much of a threat they were to the majors recently, all this talk about, will we see the gradual dying off of the two party system, but not the greatest showing from SA-Best, I think it’s fair to say, and the Greens failed in Batman. Graham Perrett, first of all to you One Nation obviously didn’t win a seat in the Queensland State Election, but do you see them as an ongoing threat there?

GRAHAM PERRETT, MEMBER FOR MORETON: I think they won one seat, Tom. One Nation I think are doing some crazy things in terms of who they pretend to represent. We’ve seen in their coming out in support of the $65 billion tax giveaway to the top end of town. I think that protest vote has always been there to be harvested, but I don’t want to agree with Jane too much, but I think Australian society has been served well by that Westminster style of competing ideas by mainstream political parties. The protest vote that doesn’t actually achieve anything, I think Australian voters are maybe becoming a little bit more aware, a little but more savvy and they might return to the mainstream parties in the future.

CONNELL: And yet I guess you saw Graham, in that by-election in Batman, Bill Shorten seemingly have to go over and bend towards the left on Adani. His rhetoric clearly changed on the first days on the hustings there in Batman, you surely wouldn’t deny that, he went for the first time and said he didn’t think the idea stacked up?

PERRETT: Well maybe that’s more of a question for Jane, because once the Liberals deserted the field, it changed the dynamic there. You had a party of protest and not of government, up against a mainstream party like Labor. As I said, I think the mainstream is best served by those main competing parties, competing ideas, ones that are achievable and reasonable competing at the ballot box, rather than that protest vote, that pox on both your houses, which is really the duping of many people because you don’t achieve anything by not voting of having a protest vote effectively.

CONNELL: I want to pick up on what you said there, and ask you about this Jane. It’s really interesting to see the Liberal Party not run in Batman, and whether they’ll do this in some of the other seats, they make Labor work harder by doing this your party does, but risks having more Greens in the Parliament. Is that a tradeoff that’s worth it?

JANE HUME, LIBERAL SENATOR FOR VICTORIA: Well that’s really for the party executive to decide that decision. Certainly what we saw in Batman, what we saw play out in Batman was Labor’s dramatic shift to the left to compensate. You know, moving towards that Green flank, I suppose, of the Labor Party and the flip flopping on Adani, I think was certainly the pinnacle of that. It would’ve been very interesting to see if we had have had another by-election, potentially in Longman at the same time to see those competing forces at work, whether Bill Shorten could actually appeal to the Green left flank as well as the mainstream of his party. I think that he was very lucky in the last few days of the Batman By-Election, particularly as we saw the Greens fall apart and their internal bickering. On that issue though of minor parties, I think that we’ve seen a very interesting dynamic particularly in South Australia, but it has been coming for some time, that those minor parties that rely on that cult of personality seem to have diminished power, you know, diminished appeal. Maybe because they rely on that cult of personality they haven’t necessarily got that ideological glue that allows for consistent policy positioning, maybe it’s a change we’ll see in elections in the next couple of years.

CONNELL: A few parties out there aren’t there, with the name in the party. Previously with Nick Xenophon went to SA-Best but that didn’t work out for him. I want to…

HUME: We saw it with Jacqui Lambie, we saw it with Clive Palmer, it’s actually quite a common occurrence.

CONNELL: No, it is, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. I want to ask you though, Jane Hume about a call this week from Prince Charles. He was given an offer, maybe a cheeky one from the Australian Republican Movement to address them and tell them why he should be Australia’s King. I noted on the website, the Australian Republican website you’re described as undeclared or unknown, do you want to tell people where you stand right now? I’m not sure whether it’s out there elsewhere.

HUME: I don’t mind declaring that I am a confirmed monarchist. I’m very fond of Her Majesty and I even got a chance to meet her once, it was quite a moment. Not quite Menzian, I did but see her passing by but it was quite a moment for me.

CONNELL: They can update their website. What did you make of him turning down the invite? Why not make the case telling us why Prince Charles should be King?

HUME: I don’t like going to meetings where the objective of meetings is to do me out of a job. I think we might be making too much of this, he’s only here for six days and I’m sure he has a very busy schedule. We don’t know why he didn’t take up the offer so I don’t think we should read the entrails before we’ve gutted the chicken on this one.

CONNELL: Graham Perrett a fair call? I don’t think he would’ve walked into a rousing applause, would he, to this meeting?

PERRETT: Well look I’d be there. I’m one of the Queensland organisers of the Australian Republican Movement. We’d be nothing but respectful. He is about to be King Charles III, I think he should explain to the 25 million Australians why none of them are good enough to be our Head of State. I notice of the 71 nations competing at the Commonwealth Games down the Gold Coast, more than 30 of them don’t have Queen Elizabeth as their Head of State, so we can still be part of the Commonwealth Games if we become a republic, so I wish Charles and Camilla had come along for a BBQ with the Australian Republican Movement.

CONNELL: Oh well. I know the old argument of the, ‘we want to stay in the Com Games’, you make the point we still can. I want to get to one other issue if I can just jump in there Graham Perrett, refugee intake now there’s a push it appears within the Party’s left to adopt a position where Australia would take 50,000 refugees a year. The current intake is 19,000, so two and a half times that, I’m always very wary generally of round numbers; do we know where this number was plucked from? Do you support this push?

PERRETT: The National Policy Forum is an ongoing process. We’ve got a meeting coming up in a few weeks. I think about 2,000 party members have made submissions, so this might be just one from one branch. We’ve had 30 workshops around Australia so there’d be a lot of ideas floating around. We took a big commitment to the last election, to increase our refugee intake, so this is just one of the ideas that is floating around. As Mark Butler, our party President and candidate for the next National Conference as Party President, a very good candidate, we’ve got a long way to go before the National Conference decides on any figures.

CONNELL: Jane, we’re almost out of time but your thoughts on this? We did have an extra intake of Syrians under Tony Abbott, would a case for the Rohingya be made for a one off intake for Australia do you think?

HUME: Well I don’t know whether there is special consideration for any particular group that’s on the table at the moment. But what I would say, and I know a number of people have said before me, Australia’s humanitarian intake on a per capita basis is one of the most generous in the world. We’ve already seen it increase to 19,000 this year from the Turnbull Coalition. I know the ALP have promised 27,000, you’re right, I think this 50,000 number seems to have been plucked out of the ether and I would love to see it justified. Because it’s not just the number of refugees we take in, it’s also whether we can afford to provide the support services. Our generous refugee intake is also generous in the services we provide, whether it be mainstream services like education and health, but also those specialist services like trauma counselling and language education, and translation and interpreting services. We have to make sure that we can afford to support the refugees that we bring here.

CONNELL: It’s a figure out there for the moment. Perhaps we’ll see where it goes on the floor of what‘s always a vigorous debate. We’ve had a Labor and Liberal argument today, and of course a monarchist and a republican as well. Jane Hume, Graham Perrett thanks very much for your time today.

PERRETT: Cheers, Tom. Cheers, Jane.