He may be the Industry Minister but Christopher Pyne had to put up quite a defence last night on ABC’s Q&A program. He admitted the government had a messy week last week, but said he wasn’t worried that the PM was lagging behind in the polls as he would no doubt pull through come election time.
Newspoll results now show Labor taking a 51-49 lead on two-party preferred, and Mr Pyne said “by the time of the election, the choice will be very clear”.
“If you look at the poll between who people want – Malcolm Turnbull or Bill Shorten – Malcolm always leads Bill Shorten at least two-to-one. So sure, polls come and go, and today’s Newspoll is a reflection of the messy week,” he said.
“Polls come and go, and that reflects the current situation, but after an election campaign on election day, I firmly believe that with our policies around things like the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Defence Industry Policy Statement, the Defence White paper, Senate voting reform, competition law reform, media ownership reform, there’ll be a budget in May, quite clearly we have the team and the plan to create jobs and growth”.
Amongst the topics of conversation on the typically polarising show was the proposal for state and territory governments to levy their own income taxes and whether the Liberal government was trying to “avoid federal responsibility”.
South Australian Labor MP Amanda Rishworth said this move meant the Prime Minister was basically saying there was no role for the Commonwealth in public schools and hospitals.
“The Commonwealth does run parts of the health system. It runs the primary health system. It runs Medicare. You can’t say that that doesn’t have an interaction with our hospital system,” Ms Rishworth said.
“To somehow suggest that the Commonwealth should walk away from our hospitals, walk away from our public schools doesn’t, I think, meet the test.”
After the discussion turned to Gonski funding, it then worked its way to marriage. One questioner asked, asked how Parliament would ensure supporters of traditional marriage would “not be discriminated against”.
Satirist Sameena Zehra challenged the question and said, “As a society we decide – there is lots of traditional things that happened for ages and ages and as a society we all went ‘This doesn’t work’”
“You really have to describe traditional marriage to me then because when you say ‘traditional marriage’ it can mean Biblical marriage which can mean like having 100 wives, do you mean like traditional Islamic marriages, that’s like four wives? What do you mean by traditional marriage?”
Mr Pyne then piped up and said, “I don’t see that – that premise doesn’t follow to me. In terms of the mechanics of supporting churches or ministers or priests who don’t want to marry same-sex couples, nobody can force anybody to do anything”.
Tell us, did you watch last night? What did you think of Pyne’s responses? What are your opinions on the topics discussed?