ABC News Weekend Breakfast with Miriam Corowa and Joe O'Brien Transcript 8th February 2015


Miriam Corowa: LNP Senator for Queensland Ian Macdonald joins us live from Ayr in Queensland. Thank you very much for joining us Senator. What do you make of the announcement that has only just been made in the past 15-20 minutes that the important Liberal party room meeting has been bought forward to 24 hours from Tuesday to Monday at 9am.

Senator Macdonald: Well its interesting, I hadn’t heard of it myself. I would have been in Canberra this afternoon so it doesn’t make a great deal of difference and there is some merit in the reasons given that you really do need to sort these things out before the parliament sits. But it also suggests there might be a bit of nervousness there.

Joe O'Brien: More an act of desperation than decisiveness perhaps?

Senator Macdonald:  : No, I wouldn’t say that, I mean it is sensible that we do start the parliament with this matter resolved otherwise the legislative program for Monday and Tuesday is going to be a bit bogged down that’s not going to mean much.

Miriam Corowa: The parliament was always scheduled to start on Monday, it hasn’t been a surprise to anyone including the Prime Minister, he was determined to hold it on Tuesday it does seem it might have been brought forward to provide a advantage to the Prime Minister to make sure Malcom Turnbull cannot have nearly as many conversations with back benchers as he likes.

Senator Macdonald:  That’s a good conspiracy theory but I wouldn’t subscribe to it. I don’t think there should have been a spill. I think the spill will be defeated. Tony has acknowledged that he hasn’t done things in the very best way over the past 6 months, he has indicated that he is going to change and have a whole new approach I think we should let him do that and see how things go.  Having a spill, really achieves nothing it just makes 40-50% of the party very unhappy and it is a recipe for further uncertainty in the months ahead. I think we are much better getting rid of the spill motion and letting Tony get on with it and giving him the chance to show what he is telling all the backbenchers in the last couple of weeks is going to come to pass that there will be a new approach a new way of doing things a new consultative way, you know we will get on with the job. As I often say it’s not really about individuals it’s about the future of Australia. The future of Australia needs a Liberal government after the next election and that is what we all have to keep in mind we all have to work to the best way to achieve that.

Joe O'Brien: Senator, the spill motion is going ahead even though you are against it being conducted, how much damage has already been done and how much damage would be done if it isn’t a substantial victory for the Prime Minister even if he does fend off a successful spill motion, if he has got 30-40 votes against him that has got to be a recipe for future uncertainty and disaster.

Senator Macdonald:  Well look, as I say, Tony has made a number of commitments to many of the backbenchers. He has acknowledged the way things have happened, not just on his own account but some of his ministers haven’t done things the way that someone as lowly as I could see that wasn’t appropriate. And I think we should give them the opportunity to show that they understand that there is a new page turned in the book and see how we go. If it doesn’t improve quite frankly having stood on the Queensland election polls  all day last Saturday having seen what happened, if things don’t change I am very fearful of the next federal election. But I believe they can change and I think it is up to all of us to make sure that happens and if that happens we will get back to things. Because remember we have done many great things as a Government and they tend to get overshadowed by the bad things. There have been some silly things done the Medicare Co-Payment, the Paid Parental Leave Scheme. Hopefully they are been fixed now and it won’t happen again without proper consultation. Repealing the Carbon Tax, Mining Tax, stopping the boats, Labor would of never have done that. In the end it is about what is good for Australia, who can govern Australia better and you wouldn’t want to go back to Bill Shorten and the Labor party with their debt, deficit and dysfunction.

Miriam Corowa: If Tony Abbott is endorsed this week by the Liberal party room and things don’t change, as you said you’re feared, what happens then?  How long will the Liberal party give him?

Senator Macdonald:  Well look I think Tony Abbott himself has been around a long while, he has the interests of the Liberal party and indeed wider than that he has the interests of Australia at heart> I think Tony will be able to read the vibes over the next few months and if they don’t improve (I think they will improve) but if they don’t improve that is a matter for Tony. But I think Tony is an honourable man and understands what is best for Australia and I think he would act accordingly. But I am confident that if Tony does what he has indicated to many of us backbenchers he is going to do, then I think we are in for another period of prosperity, good government and that we will win the next election.

Joe O'Brien: Senator what do you make of reports in the Sunday Mail and elsewhere this morning that there may be some kind of a deal in the works where Malcom Turnball would become Treasurer, Joe Hockey would be removed from that portfolio as a way of keeping Tony Abbott in power. Would that be an appropriate change, as sign from Tony Abbott that he is prepared to lead differently by changing one of the chief messengers who hasn’t been able to sell this successes that you have been talking about?

Senator Macdonald:  Look, quite frankly you are asking the wrong person, I don’t think about that. I can honestly say nobody has contacted me in the last few days and I think that is because everyone know where I always stand on everything. I don’t play the games. There are some issues, but they are matters for Tony and the senior leadership team to resolve. In the end result I come back to the proposition that we have to do what is right for Australia and whatever that takes should happen. But I don’t think having a spill and having 40-50% of the party unhappy with the outcome is not the way to go, that is the Labor way. You need to do it in the way Alexander Downer and John Howard did it all those years ago. We got to give Tony the chance, it takes a big man to acknowledge that he has made mistakes and Tony has done that. We just need to see if he changes things around, that there is a different approach, a different rapport with the Australian public. I think we can get through this and win the next election handsomely and we got to that for the good of Australia.

Miriam Corowa: Alright, Senator Ian Macdonald thank you for speaking to Weekend Breakfast.

Senator Macdonald:  That’s my pleasure.  

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