Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Peter Slipper; Tony Abbott’s attacks on the Prime Minister; Labor delivering for Australian people – ABC 774

Program: ABC 774 Morning Show

E & OE – Proof only

JON FAINE: Minister for Families, Community Services, Indigenous Affairs, Disability Reform, and one of the leading feminist voices in the Labor caucus. Jenny Macklin, good morning.

JENNY MACKLIN: Good morning Jon.

JON FAINE: Is the Labor Party playing this as a political card? Is this opportunism at its most rank?

JENNY MACKLIN: I don’t think so. As somebody who’s been in the Parliament for a long time now, I’ve seen a lot of very tough debates, some pretty difficult things said over the years. But nothing compares to the just ongoing abuse that Tony Abbott hurls across the table at the Prime Minister every single day in Question Time…

JON FAINE: …Paul Keating used to do worse, surely in his hey-day?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I wasn’t there then, but Mr Keating certainly was able to hand it out, that’s true. But the difference here is that it is relentless and at times under the, you might say under the radar comments that I can hear as I sit behind the Prime Minister…

JON FAINE: …Such as what?

JENNY MACKLIN: He calls her a liar all the time. He just….

JON FAINE: …Well maybe she is…

JENNY MACKLIN: ….Over and over and over again. It is completely unparliamentary, and he is doing to abuse….

JON FAINE: …But politicians call each other liars habitually. You do that to each other all the time.

JENNY MACKLIN: And I think the point you made in your introduction is that this is not what the public wants. The public actually does not want to see us abuse each other, they want us to get on with it. And get on with delivering the changes that the country needs, whether it’s delivering a National Disability Insurance Scheme, which is of course one of the biggest jobs I have at the moment. So I think that is exactly what the public want. And I think the interesting thing about this Parliament over the last two years has been, although there has been a level of vitriol day after day after day, in fact the Parliament has gotten on with it.

JON FAINE: Sophie Mirabella, from the Opposition, joins us shortly. But Jenny Macklin, explain to me why I’m wrong if my cynicism reaches new heights by thinking here that the Labor Party’s polling tells you that Tony Abbott’s great weakness is what is regarded as his hostility or aggression towards women, and you are seeking to exploit it at this crucial time in the life of this Parliament?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I just don’t agree with that analysis…

JON FAINE: …Well which part of what I said is wrong? You have got that polling, you are using it…

JENNY MACKLIN: …Well that’s your opinion. It’s not mine….

JON FAINE: Well you do have the polling, don’t you?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I don’t, and…

JON FAINE: …The Labor Party does.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I don’t. And my point to you Jon is that the facts actually speak for themselves. The way that Mr Abbott behaves, the way he spoke yesterday to the Prime Minister, that the Government should die of shame, using the same language that Alan Jones had used
about the Prime Minister’s father…

JON FAINE: …Is that conscious or unconscious in your view?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well who knows? It looked like they had worked the lines out together. It was horrible.

JON FAINE: Sorry, they being?

JENNY MACKLIN: Mr Abbott and Mr Jones.

JON FAINE: Are you suggesting Alan Jones is writing Tony Abbott’s lines?

JENNY MACKLIN: Who knows, Jon? I don’t know. All I’m saying is exactly the same language was used, in both cases disgusting language. And unfortunately Mr Abbott has a lot of form, as does Alan Jones, if it comes to that.

JON FAINE: So where’s the circuit-breaker? I have Sophie Mirabella joining me in just a moment, but Jenny Macklin finally, where’s the circuit-breaker going to come from? You agree people want a more decent level of debate, but there seems no prospect of either Julia Gillard nor Tony Abbott being able to accommodate anything like that in this Parliament.

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I suppose that’s the point I’m trying to make to you is, the fact that we are able to get on and deliver many, many positive initiatives. Just last week I announced the opening of applications for Dad and Partner Pay, paid parental leave for dads. A great new initiative, something very positive that’s happening for new dads in our community. We’re also today introducing legislation to make sure we’ve got the money to pay community service workers, who for years have been underpaid. This Government believes in equal pay. We’re going to deliver the money to make sure that community services get the pay rise, community service workers get the pay rise that they deserve. So actually we are getting on with it and my objective is to do exactly that, and with your agreement we’ll keep talking about those things.

JON FAINE: From time to time, I hope we do. Jenny Macklin, Minister for Families, Community Services, Indigenous Affairs and Disability Reform.