ABC DRIVE INTERVIEW - With Pat Hession – Tuesday, 22nd March, 2016


Presenter:          2016 was always going to be a Federal Election year, did you think it was going to play out like this?  It is only up to March and we are talking about an election and the likelihood of an election which is increasing seemingly by the day on the 2nd of July.  The Prime Minister says it is a definite possibility, which would mean a definite change for the dynamics for north Queensland Senator Ian Macdonald who’s here this afternoon.  Good afternoon Senator.

Senator MacdonaldG’day Pat.

Presenter:                   At this stage your term is not due to expire until 2019, do you think that’s going to change?

Senator Macdonald:Well it’s 2020 is when my current term finishes and I’ve always indicated I’d be there until at least that time.  If there is a Double Dissolution the dynamic can well change.  It will mean that Queensland will now elect 12 Senators in one go rather than the normal 6 and, of course, I would be hopeful and would expect that 6 of those 12 Senators will then, as now, be from the LNP and I’m hopeful and confident that I will be one of those 6.

Presenter:                   Preselections need to go through but you’re definitely keen by the sounds of that?

Senator Macdonald:I’m definitely running again Pat.  There’s never been any doubt about that and it’s all a bit uncertain because we really have no actual confirmation that there will be an election on 2nd July although it’s looking increasingly like that.  And then it’s a question for the LNP on how they will order the Ticket for the LNP but I’m expecting that will be done in good time before the election so the voters will know who’s there to vote for.

Presenter:                   How would it be resolved between which Senators would sit for 3 years and which would sit for the 6 years of the term because it’s my understanding that’s the way it works there is some sort of division there?

Senator Macdonald:Well there are 12 Senators elected at one election and clearly 6 of them have to be what’s called ‘long term’ Senators who would be elected for a 6 year term commencing on 1st July 2016, that is if the election’s on the 2nd July and then the other 6 would be ‘short term’ Senators elected for a 3 year term from the 1st July, 2016.  Now, the convention, although it’s not beyond doubt, but the convention in the past has been that where 12 Senators are elected in a Double Dissolution, the first 6 elected become ‘long term’ Senators and the second 6 elected become the ‘short term’ 3 year Senators. 

Presenter:                   So that’s those with the highest vote?

Senator Macdonald:Yes, as the vote unravels after Election Day.  In much the same way as it is now of course.  But the first 6 elected, as I say, would normally, by convention become the ‘long term’ Senators.

Presenter:                   It looks as though, at this stage, it will be the 2nd July as you say, so a 3 month election campaign how does that sit with you?

Senator Macdonald:Well, I’m not sure; it doesn’t make a lot of difference to me.  We always work on the basis that if you’re an elected politician you should be campaigning for 3 years, you don’t just campaign in the last couple of months, you do the work during your whole term and if you do it properly people will respond to that at the next election.  But I think the public will get very sick of a 3 month intense election campaign and I feel for them and fear for them but it looks like that’s what it’s going to be.  Mind you Pat, having said that and there’s a lot of posturing going on now, but this Double Dissolution only comes about because the government that was elected, quite substantially 3 years ago in the Lower House, had a programme of fixing the lawlessness, some of the economic disaster that happens from the way, particularly the Building and Construction Unions were.  The government elected 3 years ago intended to fix that.  It got to the Senate and you find that there are these crossbench Senators, some of them elected with a very, very, very small vote are standing in the way of doing what the government promised it would do.  Now, what Mr Turnbull has said is that he is giving those crossbenchers one more chance to pass the legislation to bring these corrupt and bullying, these unions that really do impact on other people’s jobs and on the general economy, it’s giving the crossbenchers the opportunity of saying okay, we understand this is a mandate, we understand what’s happening is bad for Australia, yes, we will allow those pieces of legislation to pass.  Now, if that happens, of course there won’t be a Double Dissolution -

Presenter:                   And we can go around and around and many of those will say that they voted on a platform opposing such changes and I don’t want to get bogged down in the detail of it.  There will be a range of issues canvassed during the election campaign.  That may be the reason for the campaign; do you think it will be the central issue though?

Senator Macdonald: I think it will be a very big part of the whole campaign.  Obviously in any election you do get onto things like the general economy, jobs, education, health, northern Australia, in our case, the development of northern Australia.  So, all of those things will be part of the election but the underlying theme will be twofold, firstly about helping the economy address what has been a blight on the economy with the way some of these thuggish Unions go on and secondly it will be about voters determining who governs Australia and whether having elected a government you should then allow one, or two or three Senators who’ve been elected with a very small percentage of the vote in just one State, whether they should be allowed to stand in the way of what the broader Australian voting population decided it wanted to do.  So they’ll be the two underlying themes but as well as that of course there will be, as I say, the normal argy-bargy that occurs at election time.

Presenter:          Now Senator Ian Macdonald at this stage we know that 2nd July is the most likely date and there are going to be plenty of people wanting to take your job off you, plenty of people likely to put their hand up and nominate for a Senate election if that’s the way things go ahead but I’m wondering as an incumbent does it make the job harder when the local economy here especially isn’t running all that well.  I’m wondering if potentially people might look for a change in that environment.

Senator Macdonald:Well look the local economy is difficult at the present time and there are a number of reasons for that but the principal one, of course, is with the downturn of the mining industry and that can be overcome, that can be addressed with the stroke of a pen if the current State Government would issue a Mining Licence, a Mining Lease for Adani .

Presenter:                   I don’t think that would solve all the problems Senator.

Senator Macdonald:No, no but it will give a lot a confidence to the employment situation in Townsville and Mackay and that’s really what’s holding us back.  But in addition to that, and that’s been the reason for the difficult economic situation in the Townsville region at the moment, the turndown in the mining industry.  But Pat, I don’t need to remind you that the Northern Australian White Paper had a lot of initiatives for northern Australia.  They are starting to roll out now, there will be road construction, there’ll be dam construction, there’ll be a lot of things happening in the north and we’ll be going to the election standing on our record of what we have done in a positive way looking forward and I’m very happy to fight an election on that and I have no fear that the people in north Queensland will see the good things that’ve come out and will understand that the difficulties that we see are not really of the making of the Federal government.

Presenter:                   Senator, thanks for your time again this afternoon.

Senator Macdonald:That’s my pleasure Pat.      

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