ABC 24 Breakfast – 15 September 2015

E&OE……………

Topics: Liberal Party Leadership; Getting on with governing

QUESTION

I’m joined here on the lawns of Parliament House by the Defence Minister and strong Tony Abbott supporter Kevin Andrews. Mr Andrews good morning to you.

MINISTER ANDREWS

Good morning Michael.

QUESTION

Will you serve in a Malcolm Turnbull Cabinet?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Well last night I stood as deputy to indicate to Malcolm after he’d been elected leader that I was prepared to serve with him. I was reaching out to him in that regard, and about a third of the party voted for me in that ballot and I think that’s interesting because he spoke last night about a broad church. We have to be a broad church and we have to be united.

QUESTION

Will you serve?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Yes.

QUESTION

Okay and what are the prospects of those party wounds being healed?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Well this comes down to all of us getting on with the job. There was a contest, Malcolm was elected leader, that’s a fact now. The test now for us is can we be united? If we are divided then any party that is divided amongst itself will not get the support of the Australian people. And that’s what we have to get on with the job of doing and that is what I was indicating last night by standing as deputy and as Malcolm said we needed to be a broad church.

QUESTION

Just picking up on the point being made there by Tom Switzer. The still current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, he is not a former Prime Minister until Malcolm Turnbull is officially sworn in. Firstly, have you spoken to him since the ballot?

MINISTER ANDREWS

To Tony?

QUESTION

Yes.

MINISTER ANDREWS

Yes I spoke to him last night.

QUESTION

How is he handling it?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Look, Tony is stoic, he was reflective, he’s been around politics for a long time and he’s seen this before.

QUESTION

And what role will he play now on the backbench? Will he be a team player or will he, as many of his supporters would argue, quite rightly feel a justification to destabilise Malcolm Turnbull?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Tony is a decent, honourable person. He always has been and he always will be.

QUESTION

How much of his demise was due to those own goals, those dodgy captain calls and not other factors?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Look this was a very difficult time in terms of Government. As you know, we do not control the Senate. We’ve had difficult times. We‘ve had a Labor Party that are opposing all sorts of things, including a trade agreement that will guarantee jobs for Australians for decades to come, it’s been difficult times. And nobody is perfect in these circumstances, but now we have to just get on with the job.

QUESTION

But equally he didn’t do himself or the party any favours I’m thinking Prince Philip, hanging onto Bronwyn Bishop for weeks after he should have.

MINISTER ANDREWS

Look Michael I’m not a commentator, I’m here to try and make policy and do the right thing for the Australian people, and if we want to do the best thing for the Australian people and for the good of this country, then we have to get on with the job. We have to be united and we have to represent that broad church which is the Liberal Party.

QUESTION

What do you make of Malcolm Turnbull’s strong argument yesterday, his pitch for the job that Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey weren’t effectively selling economic policies, the Liberal Party’s economic policies?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Look it’s always easy to criticise. As I said, I’m not going to be a commentator on this, Malcolm made his pitch….

QUESTION

Was he justified in making such a claim? You are a senior Cabinet Minister and a supporter of Tony Abbott?

MINISTER ANDREWS

He made that pitch and that’s now in the past, he’s now the Leader. The test from now on, the test today is can we be unified? If we are divided, then the Australian people will treat us in a way they treat divided parties always and that’s not favourably.

QUESTION

So you’re absolutely sure that your colleagues, those who supported Tony Abbott will let bygones be bygones and get behind Malcolm Turnbull?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Look, there’s always hurt in these circumstances Michael. That’s natural, that’s human. But the challenge for us as people representing the great people of Australia is to put that behind us and get on with the job, that’s the test for all of us from Malcolm down.

QUESTION

Equally as a strong Tony Abbott supporter, you wouldn’t be too surprised if you got a phone call from Malcolm Turnbull during the week saying Kevin Andrews thanks but no thanks, you can go to the backbench..

MINISTER ANDREWS

Look the Ministry is always up to the Prime Minister, but he indicated last night that he wanted to see a broad church. I think on all accounts people would say that I’ve been doing a pretty good job in settling down Defence. We are in the midst of a White Paper that’s just about to come out. We are in the midst of the submarines, these are very complex, significant issues but ultimately that’s a matter for Malcolm. But there needs to be a broad church. If there’s not, our base will be disappointed.

QUESTION

When do you expect the Government to go to an election should Malcolm Turnbull seek his own mandate in that view?

MINISTER ANDREWS

That’s a matter for the Prime Minister.

QUESTION

Okay, Kevin Andrews, the Defence Minister, speaking to me at Parliament House.

MINISTER ANDREWS

Pleasure Michael.

Ends.