Subject: Mosque maintenance on Christmas Island, Greg Rudd, Industrial relations
HENRY: But right now, it's time to talk politics, with our politicians from both sides spectrum, Peter Dutton, Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing and Ed Husic, Labor Member for Chifley, join us now.
Good morning to you both. Great to have you with us.
DUTTON: Morning Paul, morning Ed
HUSIC: G'day Peter.
HENRY: It's all nice collegial to start with. Let's talk for a moment if we can firstly and I might actually come to you, firstly, on this Peter. We're spending fifty thousand dollars, federal money, so my money, Kath's money, the money of our viewers, on upgrading the toilets and some walls inside a mosque on Christmas Island. If your party takes power will you put stop to that?
DUTTON: Well Paul, I think if you dug a little bit deeper, it would be the tip of the iceberg, I think the real problem is that government has such enormous demand with these thousands and thousands of extra arrivals and of course upgrades of these facilities are going to take place, because they've got record numbers of people on the island.
HENRY: Yep fair enough, but I don't really want to turn this into an asylum seeker thing. At the end of the day, it's a mosque on Christmas Island, why should taxpayers in Australia be footing the bill to upgrade the toilets in it?
DUTTON: Well the responsibility of the Australian Government is to make sure that they've got facilities on Christmas Island, particularly if their policies are encouraging people to come via boat. People have a basic right to practice religion and the Government provides these facilities and as I say, millions of dollars more will be spent on upgrading other facilities.
HENRY: Yeah Sure. Obviously they need medical treatment and that, Ed, but surely they can pray on a rug. Why is the government forking out money for a mosque or for that matter on any religious institution?
HUSIC: Well I haven't seen the report and I don't know whether or not this is just part of general maintenance there on Christmas Island and frankly, I know, you're uptight about it, Paul, but...
HENRY: I'm apoplectic about it Ed and it's your fault, I've decided.
HUSIC: You're what about it?
HENRY: Arbitrarily I've decided it's your fault.
HUSIC: Oh Okay, well fair enough, you know I normally, I expect the robust treatment, on an early morning show that's fine
HENRY: But do you think...
HUSIC: The issue, big issue..
HENRY: Do you think that's a good way of spending taxpayer’s money?
HUSIC: Well for me as I said, I don't know if this is part of regular maintenance or what but if people want to practice faith, I don't think it's necessarily that we're out there and building places of faith, be they churches or mosques. We are trying to accommodate peoples faiths, in the time that they are there. The bigger issue is, Paul, trying to prevent people from taking this very unsafe trip, this two day trip, across rough waters and that's where we've got to get to, where the Parliament's got to get to.
HENRY: Yeah sure, I just, even if it is upgrading though, and will move onto other things in minute, even if it is upgrading, taxpayers should not be forking out money to upgrade churches of any denomination. That shouldn't be up to the taxpayer to pay for tarting up religious outfits.
HUSIC: I think that's a broader debate that you're asking us to get involved in, in terms of church and religion and state and we could go on with that for days and it would be quite an interesting debate to have.
HENRY: Yeah it would get hot and fiery too, 'cause I'm getting hot and fiery about it.
HENRY: Alright here's a quickie for you, Kevin Rudd's brother Greg, do we need another another Rudd in parliament?
HUSIC: I've known actually Greg for years, he's great value. I read some of his comments this morning. He always gives a lot of thought to his politics and it'll be interesting to see how things pan out.
HENRY: Do you reckon the Rudd name, Peter, is that going to serve him well in Queensland?
DUTTON: Well I wouldn't have thought so, Paul, but it sounds to me pretty much like a phone a friend arrangement. Poor old Kevin's not got a friend amongst the Labor Party and so he's called up his brother and said please mate come in and be my only friend.
HENRY: I'd don't think they're friends, that the irony, I don't think they're friends. They're brothers but not friends.
DUTTON: Well for Kevin Rudd it's got to this and Greg's a decent sort of bloke, but I'm not sure this coming election is going to be the season for independents and would he promise to work with his brother? It seems not, from what I understand of the relationship, but he hasn't got too many friends in the Labor Party otherwise.
HENRY: Alright Peter, Tony Abbott, I mentioned this yesterday actually, over the weekend, towards the end of last week, he was talking about Work Choices. He said that he was a great friend of the Australian worker, but he made three points, that I think are interesting. He said right now we've got a flexibility problem in the workforce, we've got a militancy problem, we've got a productivity problem. You will obviously agree with that, does this mean that the Coalition intends to do something pretty dramatic with regard to industrial reform?
DUTTON: No, I think what Tony's for-shadowing is that what we announce before the election by way of policy in industrial relations, will be measured and I think that's what the Australian people want. I think that all of us accepted that we went too far with Work Choices, but in the end, we want to see people paid more, we want to see flexibility, particularly when I talk to parents around my electorate and not everybody can work a nine to five day. For some parents it suits them to work Saturdays or they don't want to work Saturdays because the kids are doing sport, one of the partners in a relationship might want to work night work. It's about providing some flexibility to families.
HENRY: Right and so the Coalition will introduce policies which will allow, what, more negotiation between employers directly with employees?
DUTTON: Well I'm the Shadow Minister for Health, so I just haven't had an insight into the policy development in that area, but I think what Tony is saying it will be measured and it will be in the best interest of families and of productivity, which is a big agenda in this country.
HENRY: We do have a problem with productivity, Ed, don't we, I mean is your government able to sort that out?
HUSIC: Well we are trying to do two things to improve productivity. The things that have bedevilled the economy have been lack of skilled people and issues with infrastructure and what we've been trying to do particularly in terms of schools, trade training centres, where we are trying to train up apprentices and fill of those gaps, we've been trying to deal with things there and on the infrastructure front, you look at what we are doing in terms of urban infrastructure, we spending more than any other government combined..
HENRY: But have the unions got too much control, do you reckon?
HUSIC: Well this argument about militancy, well you look at, go to the stats, the stats show that strikes haven't increased or gone through the roof and that for example the type of flexibility issues that were mentioned earlier, by Peter, I mean under individual flexibility agreements, those types of things can be worked out under current law. The issue has to be, finding out a way to get everyone working together. Now productivity was an issue under the former Government, it's an issue we're trying to address. We need to be able to get people together rather than splitting people off into camps.
HENRY: Yeah, but we do I think we do have to address it, with a considerable amount of urgency and you're right it's not just today, it's not just Australia, the developed world have got to work on productivity because we are up against it globally.
Ed, thankyou very much and Peter thankyou very much. We'll talk to you again next week. I hope you’re back with us again next week too, Peter.
DUTTON: Thanks very much mate.