Thursday, December 06, 2007

Julie Bishop - master prevaricator

Tony Jones just asked her flat out whether Peter Reith becoming a Tenix employee after being Defence Minister was wrong in relation to the new standards set by Rudd. She completely avoided answering the question and instead waffled about how they would hold Rudd's ministers to the standard set. Similar standards to the one her previous government used to have but were pissed off after seven ministers were forced to walk for violating them. Instead they became guidelines - and weren't triggered again until former Environment Minister Campbell met with Brian Burke in his capacity as minister when there were 20 other people in the room with them.

Here's the answer on Reith.

YES, it was wrong. Obviously it was wrong. He was the fucking Minister for Defence then went and joined Australia's biggest Defence contractor. HELLO MCFLY, HELLO!!!

Typical fucking Liberals.

UPDATE: Here's the transcript (see below). Watch her apply the mastery of the pollie that won't fucking answer a fucking straight down the fucking line question. No wonder she wants to get back into government. I mean they got away with this shit last time so why not again. Hold her feet to the flames Tone, hold her feet to the flames.

It should be noted she did kind of answer the question sort of when pushed. See the bold section. Note she thinks Reith taking the job was not wrong. Why would she? She's a Liberal. It would imperil the free market itself if the former head of the relevant department left a government position to work for one of its biggest contractors. Boo, lousy communists.

Tony Jones talks to Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 06/12/2007

Reporter: Tony Jones

Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop joins Lateline to discuss the changes appearing in the Australian political landscape.

TONY JONES: Back now to the newly-formed contours that are appearing daily in the Australian political landscape.

If political parties had creation myths, these would be the days that true believers wrote hymns about. The once-great man cast into the shadows, fresh faces promoted into the front ranks for the coming battles and the ancient veteran promoted back into veteran's affairs. And that's just the Opposition.

Now holding power, the Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has set out his rules of engagement. So, has his accountability crusade stolen the high ground before the shadow ministry has even drawn breath?

Well, let's find out now. We're joined in Canberra by the newly-minted Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Julie Bishop, thanks for being there.


TONY JONES: No doubt you'll be closely monitoring the Government's new ministerial code of conduct. But would you be prepared to commit to a code as rigorous as this if you ever came to government again?

JULIE BISHOP: I support the highest standards in accountability and transparency in government. Mr Rudd has set the bar very high and we'll be holding his ministry to account. The standard has been set and we would expect them to meet these standards.

TONY JONES: You support these new standards?


TONY JONES: Because the classic example in your own time in government was Peter Reith quitting as Defence Minister after the 2001 election and then taking a job with Australia's biggest defence contractor Tenix. You think that was wrong, do you?

JULIE BISHOP: No, I'm not saying that, Tony. I'm saying that I support high standards in government, in terms of accountability and transparency. Mr Rudd has made it clear that ministers are not to hold shares in any companies, whether they're related to the portfolios or not.

Now whether that's necessary or not really comes down to a question of the honesty and integrity of the individual ministers. Mr Rudd has set that standard and we'll be holding his ministers to that standard.

TONY JONES: Here's the new rule that would have stopped Peter Reith. Ministers will be required to undertake that when they leave office they will not seek to have any business dealings with members of the Government or the public service or the defence forces on any matters they've dealt with in an official capacity for a period of 18 months. You agree with that?

JULIE BISHOP: Look, I think it's a question of the honesty, integrity of the person involved and I don't believe that any former minister has acted improperly. But Mr Rudd has set this standard. It's a standard that we'll be holding his ministers to.

TONY JONES: You support this new standard and will hold your own ministers in the future to it, is that what you're saying?

JULIE BISHOP: Let's see how the Government performs according to this code of conduct. Mr Rudd has set a high standard. I support high standard in accountability and transparency terms and will certainly be holding his ministers to that standard.

TONY JONES: It's a difficult one, isn't it? Because these sort of accountability measures are likely to be very popular with the public, who like to see politicians held to account?

JULIE BISHOP: But they also understand that people can hold shares in a company that is unrelated to their portfolio. We do have mechanisms in place, register of interest, people do disclose potential or perceived conflicts of interest or actual conflicts of interest. So it's not as if there isn't accountability there now, there is. But Mr Rudd has set a standard and we'll be holding his ministers to that standard.

TONY JONES: Do you agree that lobbyists should be required to register details on a public register?

JULIE BISHOP: I think lobbyists are a very essential part of government these days. Often there is no other way for an organisation or for people to have their voice heard in government unless they use a lobbyist. So I think they are a professional group and I think it's appropriate that there be a register. I wouldn't want to see it interfere in their normal commercial dealings, though. I think that a register's fine. I don't know how far Mr Rudd intends to take it.

TONY JONES: These things could have happened during your own time in government, they did not. Is there a reason for that? These measures that you now support?

JULIE BISHOP: The former Prime Minister did have a code of conduct and as I say, at the end of the day it comes down to the conduct of individual ministers, and Mr Rudd has set out a new code of conduct, much of it is replicated in the current code. It also reflects a great deal of what is already required of ministers. But he's set a standard and we'll hold his ministers to that standard.

TONY JONES: Do you support or reject Kevin Rudd's measures to avoid, as he puts it, to avoid any future politicalisation of the Reserve Bank?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, it's interesting that this is coming from the Labor Party that fought tooth and nail against the moves by the former government to make the Reserve Bank independent of government. I recall that they were actually going to take Peter Costello to court to prevent him from doing that.

But what they've done is essentially put in place what already happens. The Reserve Bank governor is now treated in a similar fashion to, say, the commissioner of taxation.

TONY JONES: Do you support and do you agree with the new arrangements for appointing the governor and the deputy governor and the new arrangements for appointing future bank board appointees?

JULIE BISHOP: I think that any clarification of appointment social security is a good thing. I don't believe there was any difficulty with the way it occurred in the past. But Mr Rudd, as part of the new government, has decided to put it on a statutory footing. It's essentially formalising what happens now.

But as I say, leopards obviously do change their spots. The Labor Party fought long and hard against the independence for the Reserve Bank, now they are taking it even further, so that's a positive sign.

TONY JONES: The important thing and one of the big differences between what happened under your own government is that the list of board appointees could not be drawn up by the Treasurer, but would have to be drawn up by the Reserve Bank governor and the head of Treasury.

So you wouldn't get, for example, appointments like people who'd been large donors to the Liberal Party as in Robert Gerard?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, I hope we still get people with talent and business, real life experience. I hope that we don't get a narrow group of people being put forward. I think Reserve Bank governors need to have a breadth of experience across the economy, across the business sector.

TONY JONES: Are you glad to see this now taken out of the hands of politician and put into the hands of public servants?

JULIE BISHOP: No, not necessarily. I don't believe that the previous practice threw up any aberrant examples. I think that we had a very good Reserve Bank Board. But the point is, what they're doing is putting it into a statutory form what essentially happens now. I just hope that we see a breadth of talent being considered for the Reserve Bank Board - not a narrowing of the talent down to bureaucrats, for example.

TONY JONES: Julie Bishop, on the shadow ministry announced today, new ideas, new faces, new skills, new abilities, says Brendan Nelson. You want to make use as best you can of the talent you've got available. So let me ask you this, did anyone ask Peter Costello to become part of this new shadow ministry?

JULIE BISHOP: Peter made it clear that he felt that his time as a leader of the Liberal Party had passed, that he wanted to take a backbench role that he wasn't putting himself forward for a leadership role or a shadow ministry. We respect that. Peter will be sorely missed. He's a great talent and huge intellect, but of course we respect his decision.

TONY JONES: He indicated to us on this program last week he would probably resign during this term. do you know when that will be?

JULIE BISHOP: No, that's a matter you'll have to ask Peter. He's been elected as the member of Higgins. He's decided not to take a leadership role in the part, and he has a great deal still to offer the party and we hope to continue to draw on his talents.

TONY JONES: He said he wanted to discuss it, has he discussed it with you? Or with anyone in the leadership group?

JULIE BISHOP: No. I haven't had that discussion with him.

TONY JONES: Do you want to see this resolved quickly? Because the longer he stays there, the more he looms as a person, and there are a few of them in fact looking over the shoulder of the leadership team, potentially there to take over if there are problems?

JULIE BISHOP: No, I believe that Peter has decided to stay as the member for Higgins. He doesn't want a leadership role. He would have been elected I believe uncontested had he wanted to take up that role. He did not and I respect that decision, as I'm sure my colleagues do. We've put together now a strong and I hope effective parliamentary team. We intend to be a positive and constructive force in Australian political life. We don't intend to be as the former Labor Opposition was, wallowing in self pity for the first few years. We're going to get on with the job of being a constructive force. We will be meeting regularly to discuss our policies. We'll be reviewing our positions. We'll be drawing on the talents, the experience and the new ideas of a cross-section of the party who have now been appointed to our shadow ministry.

TONY JONES: But do you want Peter Costello to make it clear what he's going to do? Sooner or later, and perhaps not at the whim of the party but at his personal whim, you will face a by-election if he leaves during this term. In the meantime he's occupying a safe seat that could actually be occupied by fresh blood if he has no intention of playing a further major role in the party?

JULIE BISHOP: That is a matter for Peter. He's just been elected as the member for Higgins. We've put together a new parliamentary team and we're getting on with the job of being a constructive and positive Opposition.

TONY JONES: Also looking over your shoulder, of course, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott. When he appointed Tony Abbott Brendan Nelson said, "Like all of us he's thrown the odd wide ball." Of course when Tony Abbott said he was preparing to watch and monitor very closely the performance of the leadership team and to challenge if necessary, that didn't look like a wide ball. It looked right on the stumps?

JULIE BISHOP: Tony, politics is a extremely competitive game. You have ambitious and talented people in any effective team and we have many ambitious, talented and effective people. Now Brendan has put together a team and allocated people to portfolios that will suit their qualities, suit their abilities and I believe that as a team we will be very effective and very competitive. And we will present an attractive alternative government in the lead up to the next election and I'm sure, all of the people who've been appointed to these positions are going to take up the challenge of holding the Government to account with relish.

TONY JONES: But you saw what happened with the British Conservatives after they were defeated by Tony Blair. One serious mistake down the track, and you have looking over your shoulders Peter Costello, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, all of them potential leadership contenders. At least two of them have indicated they're prepared to look at the leadership in the future.

JULIE BISHOP: Tony, I don't deny that we've got very talented people in our party and we're blessed with a number of very experienced parliamentarians who are still in the party, who have won their seats and who have all agreed to be part of the team. Now I think we're in a wonderful position to present an effective alternative face in Australian politics and that's what we tend to do. We've got people like Tony Smith and Greg Hunt and Bruce Bilson coming into the shadow cabinet. Terrific few faces like Margaret May and Susan Lee and seasoned campaigners like Bob Baldwin who have won seats from Labor and turned margins into safe seats for the Liberal Party and we'll be drawing on their talents and qualities to present a very effective team for the parliamentary sessions leading up to the next election.

TONY JONES: You didn't mention that other Bishop, of course. Talk about a seasoned campaigner, you don't get more seasoned than that, do you?

JULIE BISHOP: Bronwyn is one of the great characters in the Parliament. She has given a lot to public life and she still has a lot more to give. She is well-versed in veterans' affairs. She knows the portfolio. She's been in a defence portfolio before. She'll do a superb job. The Labor Minister for Veterans' Affairs will surely know that Bronwyn is on the case.

TONY JONES: Christopher Pyne gets 18 votes for the deputy leadership. He ends up being shunted to the outer ministry, what did he do to earn a demotion?

JULIE BISHOP: Christopher is a very talented performer. He will be up against Bob Debus. In one sense that's no insignificant feat. He will be involved in fundamental issues for the Coalition in justice and border security. That includes things like customs and he'll assist the shadow minister in immigration and citizenship.

TONY JONES: But he was demoted having picked up 18 votes in a deputy leadership challenge?

JULIE BISHOP: No, he wasn't demoted. He was a minister in the outer ministry in the previous government and he's now a minister, sorry, a shadow minister in the outer shadow ministry in this Government, in this Opposition. I going to have to get this terminology right, Tony. (laughs) And he's most certainly been given a very significant portfolio and I'm sure he'll do it superbly.

TONY JONES: One very big loser was Kevin Andrews. Was he sidelined for punishment for being an architect of WorkChoices or his performance as immigration minister, or both?

JULIE BISHOP: No, Kevin is assisting Brendan on one of the great policy challenges of our times and that will be federal-state relations. You need somebody of Kevin's experience and understanding of the three levels of government to be able to work with us to develop a policy that we can take to the next election. It's a very significant area.

Now there were only 20 places available in Cabinet. We wanted to bring in new faces as well as combine it with some people who had Cabinet experience and Kevin's agreed to take on this other very significant role, which I'm sure he'll do very effectively.

TONY JONES: Let's move on. I'm sure you saw Julia Gillard earlier on the 7.30 Report. You're now shadowing her in part of her portfolio. What do you think the public will make of this contest between two powerful, articulate women?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, I think the Australian public will see it as a reflection of what happens in the Australian community. Women are taking on leadership roles. Women are taking on roles in business, in industry, in the public and private sector and it was only a matter of time that we would see women in leadership roles in the major parties.

TONY JONES: Leadership roles is the important thing here. I'm wondering is part of the fascination for the voting public to try and see which of you has a chance to become Prime Minister first.

JULIE BISHOP: Well, I think the focus ought to be on how we perform in our respective roles. I will be taking the game up to Julia Gillard on the question of Employment and Workplace Relations. Now this is a very significant issue for Australia going forward. The effective workplace relations reforms we've seen over the last 10 years have given rise to the economic prosperity we're enjoying today.

TONY JONES: There's also perhaps the most unpopular policy of your government and helped lead to your being thrown out of office. So the big question is, are you going to stand by everything in those workplace reforms and keep them going as they were as a big platform for the next election, or make major changes?

JULIE BISHOP: WorkChoices was a piece of legislation introduced just 18 months ago. I'm talking about the workplace reforms that have given rise to low unemployment, to a huge job creation in this country. We don't want to go back to the days of union militancy and industrial disruption and a million people unemployed. We don't want to go back to those days.

TONY JONES: But do you want to go back to WorkChoices in Opposition? Are you going to keep WorkChoices right up to the next election? That's my question.

JULIE BISHOP: WorkChoices was a piece of legislation introduced in 2005, implemented in 2006. The Australian people have made it clear what they thought of that legislation. We'll be reviewing all of our policies, including WorkChoices. But the point I'm making is that -

TONY JONES: But what changes are you compared to make? Completely overhaul it?

JULIE BISHOP: We mustn't allow the Labor Party to roll back the industrial relations reforms we've seen over the last decade or so that give rise to our current prosperity.

TONY JONES: We haven't got much time, how serious is that review going to be and how big are the changes you're prepared to make to WorkChoices?

JULIE BISHOP: Well, first we must see what the Labor Government intends to put forward by way of drafting legislation. They have said many things in the campaign leading up to the election. We now want to see what they actually mean by individual common law contracts. I mean, that's a very complex area so we want to see what they are going to put forward as the sort of workplace arrangements that employers and employees in this country can enter into. What we're saying is we will not support anything that would lead to higher unemployment, or lead to a decline in living standard or a decline in real wages.

TONY JONES: Julie Bishop, it's going to be interesting to see how that pans out is and what your review leads you to in terms of your own industrial relations policy. We will have to leave you there. We thank you for taking time to talk to us tonight. We'll see you again in 2008.

JULIE BISHOP: I hope so Tony, it's been a pleasure.

1 comment:

  1. Now that the Coalition is out of office, I hope it will be held to account--both in the press and in the Parliament--for the sins it committed while in office.


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