3AW with Neil Mitchell – 15 September 2015

E&OE……………

Topics: Liberal Party leadership; Getting on with governing

QUESTION

The Liberal Party meeting has broken up in Canberra. As far as we know, no statement from Tony Abbott. But the Defence Minister Kevin Andrews has called in, Mr Andrews good morning.

MINISTER ANDREWS

Good morning Neil.

QUESTION

Are you still Defence Minister?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Yes I am.

QUESTION

Will you continue to serve under Malcolm Turnbull?

MINISTER ANDREWS

What I’ve said is that in offering myself last night for the Deputy Leadership I was indicating clearly to Malcolm, that I was prepared to work with him. What I’m trying to do is offer leadership in these circumstances. As he said, we’re a broad church and if we’re going to serve the people of Australia as best we can we must reflect their broad interests as well.

QUESTION

So that’s a yes?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Definitely.

QUESTION

Ok, do you want Defence?

MINISTER ANDREWS

If you look at Defence it’s a very complex Portfolio and it’s a very significant time. We’re about to release a Defence White Paper setting out our strategic challenges for the next twenty years. We’ve got the Syria situation that we’ve been dealing with; we’re midway through working out how to replace our submarines and our frigates. It’s an important time to have some stability in the leadership of Defence.

QUESTION

What was the mood in the Party room today?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Look, I think sombre is probably an accurate description of it. Frankly, I’ve been through a few of these leadership spills and they’re not the most – they’re not the warmest of occasions. People are bruised by it and it takes a bit of time for people to get over it.

QUESTION

Have you spoken to Tony Abbott?

MINISTER ANDREWS

I spoke to him last night Neil and he was stoic; he was reflective I suppose and he has to work through this as well.

QUESTION

I’m told that Victoria – and you’re a local Member – was one of the reasons Malcolm Turnbull managed to be successful because Victoria was very much – or Tony Abbott was very much on the nose in Victoria. Is that true?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Well, my recollection is that most of the Victorians and certainly the Cabinet Ministers voted for Tony Abbott so I don’t think that’s true. There’ll be sorts of reasons given after the event for why this or that happened and I’m not going to get in to the speculation about that Neil.

QUESTION

Alright, but can Malcolm Turnbull turn it around?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Look the challenge for all of us, and that’s why I say that we’ve got to remember that we are a broad church. The challenge for all of us is to act in unity, to not be divided, and remember that we’re all there to serve the good of this country and the Australian people. I mean, he needs to do that but it’s a challenge for all of us.

QUESTION

Looking back, do you regret that first Budget?

MINISTER ANDREWS

The reality was that we inherited a financial mess, Neil. We couldn’t go on the way that we were going on and we had to do something about it and we did that and I thought things were actually improving of recent. If you look at the last week in my area, for example, the decisions in relation to the air flights over and in to Syria and certainly the decision about the refugees I thought was widely accepted in the community.

QUESTION

Thanks for talking to us, do you have any idea whether Tony Abbott will serve out the term?

MINISTER ANDREWS

No I don’t Neil I haven’t spoken to him about that. I didn’t think it’s appropriate to have that sort of conversation at the moment other than to support him in what has been difficult circumstances.

QUESTION 

He’s fairly bruised I imagine was he?

MINISTER ANDREWS

As I said, these are very tough times; nobody really likes these sort-of leadership disputes and the outcomes of them. But, you know, we all manage to work through them and we’ll help each other to do that.

QUESTION

Thank you very much Kevin Andrews, the Member for Menzies. Thank you for calling in.

Ends.