Ross Greenwood speaks to Former Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer, about John Barilaro’s comments calling for the Prime Minister to resign by Christmas.
Introduction: Do you support John Barilaro?
Ross Greenwood: One year ago, our citizens had been required by law to fill in a form and to hand it in. Basically, a statement in relation to their citizenship in the 45th Parliament. Now, I’ve got the form in front of me now. I’ve tried to fill it in myself and I must admit I’ve walked away, well, still certainly not quite certain as to what my citizenship might be. It would appear as though there is some evidence that some senators or some members of the House of Representatives for the House of Reps members are not due their forms in until next week. But certainly, you’ll see the information from this put out early next week in regards to senators, and then following that the House of Representatives.
Now, bear in mind that everything that we’re seeing happening inside our Parliament right now, which includes for example the Royal Commission into the banks, you could argue to a certain extent the same-sex marriage bill, much of it comes down to the citizenship issue. And the reason why the citizenship issue was so important is because we have got by-elections, and tomorrow there is a by-election in the seat of New England. That is the deputy prime minister’s seat.
Barnaby Joyce of course is a key in all of this, because while he and John Alexander are out of the House of Representatives, the numbers are actually more finely balanced as to whether the government can achieve its aims. But not only that, as to whether others introducing legislation via the Senate might be able to get that legislation slipped through while you have got an imbalance in the house. That’s the key. That’s the reason why the government had to call the Royal Commission tomorrow.
Very shortly I’m going to talk to Amanda about the unity or lack of unity perhaps inside the coalition right now. It seems as though more Nationals are acting almost as independents. One of those in fact bizarrely is the Deputy Premier of New South Wales. That’s John Barilaro. Today he made an incredible statement for someone who is part of a coalition with a Liberal government.
John Barilaro: Turnbull is the problem, the Prime Minister is the problem. They should step down, allow for a clean out of what the leadership looks like federally. Get on with governing the country, and whoever takes the reigns going forward needs to make sure that they put the country and its people first. This isn’t an endorsement of Bill Shorten, it’s actually the opposite. Bill Shorten is the reason I’m speaking out. As someone from the liberal and national coalition government and in a senior role, to step out like I’m doing today, shows how desperate my electorate is. How desperate Australians are. Well, my view is Turnbull should give-
Ross Greenwood: And when?
John Barilaro: -Australians a Christmas gift, and go before Christmas.
Ross Greenwood: That’s John Barilaro speaking with Ellen Jones my colleague this morning. Now, that’s incredible. For a deputy premier of New South Wales part of a coalition, to be saying that about the federal leader. Well, Malcolm Turnbull also got his chance today. He spoke with another of my colleagues Neil Mitchel.
Malcolm Turnbull: He’s never raised these matters with me personally. I think what’s going on Neil, is that he’s on Alan Jones and he’s just trying to ingratiate himself with Alan and telling him what he wants to hear. So, that’s what I think it’s about.
Ross Greenwood: Hang on.
Malcolm Turnbull: If that was a serious view he held, you would think that he would speak to me directly, wouldn’t you?
Neil Mitchel: He would, but he’s not alone. This is a view being expressed privately by a lot of people. You’d be aware of that?
Malcolm Turnbull: Well, they’re not expressing it privately to me.
Ross Greenwood: Surprise! Surprise! Not expressing it privately to the prime minister himself. Very few people do when they’re critical of them. Let’s go now to the man who would be Deputy Prime Minister. If you weren’t out of the Parliament actually contesting the seat of New England tomorrow, that is Barnaby Joyce. Here’s what he had to say.
Barnaby Joyce: I have to admit I was very disappointed with the comments by the deputy premier this morning, certainly works completely against the grain of how I and Malcolm have worked together in the past and hopefully will work together in the future. If what you want to do is tear down the coalition, then what you’re actually doing is asking that Bill Shorten becomes Prime Minister of Australia and Tinny Plibersek his deputy. I don’t think people want that.
Ross Greenwood: Okay. So, then it raises serious issues. When you consider George Christensen wanting to cross the floor, when you got other members wanting to actually bring in Commissions of inquiry into our banks against the wishes of the government through the Senate, what is the state of the relationship between the Liberals and the Nationals? In other words, the coalition that makes up our federal government today. I think a very good person to ask is somebody who was part of one of those coalition, a former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and leader of the Nationals, Tim Fischer. He’s on the line right now. Many thanks for your time Tim.
Interview with: Tim Fischer, Former Deputy Prime Minster
Tim Fischer: Greetings Ross.
Ross Greenwood: You would be lamenting, I would imagine, these types of comments going around. Basically, it smacks of infighting, it doesn’t appear as though the coalition is united right now.
Tim Fischer: The cardinal rule I operated on was, if you haven’t got something nice or supportive to say about your state colleagues, or for that matter other federal colleagues, you said nothing and moved on. If you have got something supportive to say about a good decision by the New South Wales coalition government to put some money into regional railway repair, will you give that a tick? John’s comments are very unhelpful as Barnaby Joyce correctly said. Very unhelpful, and they’ll come back to bite him.
Ross Greenwood: They’ll come back to bite him, but right now it appears as though it is the government of Malcolm Turnbull that’s being bitten. The reason for that, you have got members in the Senate and even the House of Representatives, Nationals, prepared to cross the floor to go against the government’s wishes. This is the reason why Malcolm Turnbull had to call a Royal Commission into our banks. It’s not a Royal Commission that the government would have wanted to call, it wasn’t its policy even up to two days beforehand. But it was as a result of the efforts of the Nationals doing this that might occur. Surely that’s not a good look either.
Tim Fischer: Well, you have to deal with events as MacMillan famously said and Sir John Winston had, had to do with the advents of Port Arthur and that took a lot of skin off me and some of these Queensland State Nationals who had signed the deal in Canberra for the guns agreement then walked away probably at 100 miles an hour. Managing that all those years ago wasn’t easy either. But you work through them, you stand your ground. I always even when I really wanted to whack a few of my own colleagues, bit my zip and I’d use the positive.
Yes, it’s robust times. These particular comments I think will get drowned out by weather events in the south and by-election events tomorrow in beautiful Tamworth and Amedeo Volker Road and beyond. The agenda will move on. But the deputy premier of New South Wales, if he’s got this much to say, could he please explain why is it two billion that’s going to be spent on tearing down a perfectly good stadium in western Sydney? A perfectly good stadium? They want a square or rectangle stadium out there. Why don’t they go to a greenfield site for God’s sake rather than–? This country’s only 24,000,000, we’ve got limited resources, and here we are about to put bulldozers through a less than twenty five-year-old Olympic stadium.
Ross Greenwood: It is a very good observation you made. Can I just take you to one other aspect, surely some of the things that are taking place inside the National Party right now are a real reminder that they are fearful of their seats, fearful of the influence of one nation in their electorates. And to a certain extent, the way in which they’re behaving says to me at least anyway that they are listening to their electorates, and their fears, and they’re also worried about the message oF one nation that it’s cutting through in their electorates.
Tim Fischer: Yes, but Rossford had a period of limbo with our best voice sidelined, shuttered up by loop line if you like, in express Barnaby Joyce, and the sooner he’s back on deck the better. We had de facto leader Matt Kanavan in many ways from his position articulate extremely well, and shows a depth of talent sitting out on the wings in his case in the Senate and he’s not an Italian citizen. By the way, scoop it for you, of course I was a German dual citizen with the name F-I-S-C-H-E-R, count one Baron Fischer.
We lost the count 400 years ago, the bond 200 years ago, the Baron 100 hundred years ago and I did check on that relax, Ross. I’m going to disappoint you. I too was an Australian citizen, not a dual citizen, so I was eligible to be Deputy Prime Minister in this great country. I’m very sorry you can’t run for the Senate next year.
Ross Greenwood: Yes, I know. It’s going to be an interesting thing to watch. I’ve got to tell your Tim Fischer are always great to have you on the program. You cut through in places where other people really do tend to waffle, and I really enjoy that. The former Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the National Party, Tim Fischer, always glad to have you on my news.
Tim Fischer: Thank you.
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