Transcripts

Interview with Greg Jennett on ABC News Afternoon Briefing

28 November 2022

E&OE…

 

Greg Jennett

Okay well we're about to bring in our political panel of the day to discuss a range of issues, and there have been a few, if you haven't noticed, from national security, through to the Nationals decision on The Voice, and then the matter the Prime Minister just addressed there being Scott Morrison, the Member for Cook, he's going to face this censor. We don't quite know when, but as the Prime Minister foreshadowed, what legislation is needed to prevent a repeat of the multiple ministries will be at least introduced, if not fully pushed through the Parliament this week before it rises or is due to for the year.Maybe it doesn't quite rise on Friday, but we'll see about that. So joining us now is our political panel. Labor MP Susan Templeman is here, welcome back Susan, and Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg. Why don't we start with you, Andrew,because we've been having a lot of discussions on the program about the Nationals decision on The Voice. What do you think it means? I'll ask about theLiberal Party in a moment...

Senator Andrew Bragg

Sure.

Greg Jennett

But for the entire pursuit of The Voice, enshrining it in the Constitution.

Senator Andrew Bragg

Well, Greg, the great thing about a public vote is that it's up to the public to decide. So this will be a referendum. We haven't had one for a couple of decades, and it's up to the people to decide whether they want to vote 'yes' or 'no' to the proposal.

Greg Jennett

Would it have been preferable to have the two - but let's say with the Nats - three,major parties all pulling together on the 'yes' side?

Senator Andrew Bragg

I think you have to expect that inside political parties there will be a difference of view. Some people will be 'yes' voters, others will be 'no'voters. This is a vote of the public, not of politicians. And so I am confident that there will be a range of views inside all the parties which will be expressed. But it's not a vote for politicians.

Greg Jennett

It's not. But, and I'm not excluding you from this conversation, Susan. I'll come to you in a moment, but we know you are a strong supporter within the Liberal Party. What's your sense of the messaging or the signal that comes from theNats to your own party room now? Does it make it easier for your own party to adopt a 'no' position?

Senator Andrew Bragg

It's not a position that the Liberal Party needs to adopt. I mean, the Liberal Party has never had a position on things like the Republic or on same sex marriage when there's been public votes. There's been 'yes' campaigns, there's been 'no' campaigns. I think anyone trying to bind other individuals on a public vote is frankly quite strange.

Greg Jennett

Okay, Susan, listening to Andrew frame it like that, it may suggest that the Liberals never actually adopt a formal position. Would that matter?

Susan Templeman MP

I think what's going to matter is that there are conversations happening right across the country about why a Voice does matter. And will help give Aboriginal People another step to self determination by providing that consultative body. So I think it's really disappointing that the Nationals have kind of jumped out, as Pat Dodson said just a few minutes ago to you, they've sort of come out ahead of a whole lot of other stuff that's going to happen. The argument I heard the Nationals gave was that because it's not going to help close the gap. Well, there are lots of other things that we're doing, multi millions of dollars that we've committed to close the gap on health, on education, on justice. But it is an important step and it's disappointing that they've taken that position and I Certainly hope that we see a different approach from especially people like Andrew. Having people like Andrew within the Liberals hopefully means a different approach 

Greg Jennett

In saying that and yes, I acknowledge it is a vote for the people and ultimately they will decide. But you're obviously suggesting that it is something of a setback not to have held the Nationals in the first instance and who knows,maybe the Liberals into some sort of united 'yes' position.

Susan Templeman MP

I noted Pat Dodson said to you that his door is always open and I don't know the internal processes of the National Party Room and why they decided two days out after the Victorian election to come out and make this stand. I don't understand the timing of it.

Greg Jennett

Do you think there's a link there?

Susan Templeman MP

I don't know. I just think it's an odd time to be doing it. You know for me, and last time I spoke to you I was in Germany doing a repatriation of ancestral remains back to Australia and that practical step, some people might say it's symbolic. It was one of the most healing things for the delegation I was with to experience, to know that the old people are coming home and there are many steps we have to take. The Voice is one of them and Makarrata and Treaty are others as are funding things that will tangibly close the gap. So let's hope the Australian community will, as Andrew says, look at this and think for themselves and certainly not be guided by the Nationals

Greg Jennett

Even if there's not a settled position, Andrew Bragg, from your Party Room on this and it's each MP and Senator for themselves, how actively will you organise with like minded, Liberals to firmly advocate the things that you believe in? And that is a 'yes' vote.

Senator Andrew Bragg

I mean, in the past there's been 'Liberals for yes' and 'Liberals for no' on the Republic, on the postal survey, on marriage. You can imagine that sort of structure could be recreated but I'm not giving a blank cheque. I mean, I think that the Government needs to bring together the whole game on The Voice and Ithink what Noel Pearson said last year that there should be an exposure draft of The Voice alongside the constitutional amendment. I think that is work that should be done by a Parliamentary Committee. I've suggested to the Minister that there should be some sort of a process which allows us to evaluate the various options. That is, to be honest, one of the best things we do here in Canberra. The Committees work very well, they are able to build consensus. Wesaw that with the NACC Joint Committee recently and I think there's more work that needs to be done here in Canberra.

Greg Jennett

Or they might build consensus across parties, but not within them. I mean,ultimately, if this is a question of Liberal unity, you have to find it within yourselves.

Senator Andrew Bragg

But there is misinformation out there on The Voice and there are red herrings. The misinformation which is needing to be addressed needs some sort of process,because there are legitimate legal issues and there are illegitimate legal issues that have been flagged publicly and we need to have a process to address them. I think this debate is getting away from us in some ways and I would like to see us bring it together as a package.

Greg Jennett

Yeah, well, there'll be some grounding of it, I think, later this week. Susan,mechanically, I keep using that word, but it's to do with the functions of thereferendum. Do you think we should have formal public funding for the yes and no sides in this?

Susan Templeman MP

Well,that will be a decision way above my pay grade. But what you will see overcoming weeks or days, weeks and months is the sorts of things that people want to see, how the process will work, some of the more detailed and juicy information about it.

Greg Jennett

It's coming?

Susan Templeman MP

It's coming and people are keen for it and that is the really positive thing. People want to know more. Its been six months in government. Not everything's been done in that first six months, but we've clearly raised people's awareness and their interest in it. And coming back to the Nationals decision, it's quite premature, I think, for them to have taken a stand now that they're locking themselves into.

Greg Jennett

Yeah, it certainly caught me by surprise, I'll confess that much when they called that doorstop today. Susan, back to you on the multiple Morrison Ministries,Virginia Bell's report. Your Government, via the Cabinet has accepted all of the recommendations, will regulate and legislate as necessary to implement them. So why go further? Why have a censure motion against Scott Morrison on the floor of the House?

Susan Templeman MP

Ithink what a censure motion does is demonstrates the seriousness of this. Yes, there's been an inquiry, but we do lots of inquiries. There's going to be legislation that shows it's pretty serious, but we do need to demonstrate to a community that's had its faith in democracy rocked. And here's yet another example of where that's happened, that we do believe in the Westminster system,in the accountability, and that we will censure people who have flagrantly breached what we consider to be the norms of that democratic process.

Greg Jennett

All right. So which way do you lean on these various elements? There's legislation, Andrew Bragg, and then who knows what might happen in your own chamber in the Senate. But it's possible there might be some sort of motion there as well. Which ones do you support?

Senator Andrew Bragg

Well, I'm not a member of the House, I don't get a vote.

Greg Jennett

But what if a motion someone was like minded in the Senate? Doesn't take much to get a motion underway in the Senate.

Senator Andrew Bragg

Greg, I think you know, I'm not too big on the stunts and gimmicks. I think what's happened here is very disappointing, and that's been addressed. I think the report is pretty clear, but I'm not a big one on the stunts and gimmicks.

Greg Jennett

And as for the legislation, what's your view about?

Senator Andrew Bragg

I think it's entirely reasonable that these matters should be gazetted and known publicly.

Greg Jennett

And thus preventing any repeat in the future. 

Senator Andrew Bragg

I don't think anyone wants to see a repeat of what happened.

Greg Jennett

Is there likely to be any opposition to that legislation from your side?

Senator Andrew Bragg

I can't imagine why people would be against that sort of transparency, which we would expect would happen every time there is a change in ministerial arrangements. I mean, the reason this is such a big story is because it wassuch a big surprise. 

Greg Jennett

It's an inglorious end if a censure should be applied. One last one to each of you.It's an inglorious footnote to a Prime Ministership, isn't it?

Senator Andrew Bragg

Look, I'm not a commentator. I won't get into that.

Greg Jennett

Susan. I mean, it's a mark on the legacy, isn't it? It's somewhat unprecedented.I won't say it is unprecedented because I haven't checked the records, but it's pretty rare.

Susan Templeman MP

I'm sure it's pretty rare. Certainly when I was a political reporter, I don't remember that happening at all. But I think what it does, is puts on the record for all time that, that sort of behaviour or things that go outside our Westminster system are not tolerated. And I think it's a pretty important lineto draw.

 

Greg Jennett

All right. The time has crept up on all of us today with a few moving parts. But justin case this is the last time we speak to both of you, we're going to thank Susan Templeman and Andrew Bragg for being incredibly generous with your time throughout the year on Afternoon Briefing. We've really appreciated it.

Senator Andrew Bragg

Thanks, Greg.

Susan Templeman MP

Thanks, Greg.

 

 

[ENDS]

 

Media contact: 

David Nouri

0401 392 624

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