Interview with Sky News – 15 September 2015

E&OE……………

Topics: Liberal Party leadership. Getting on with governing.

QUESTION

Minister Andrews, thanks for your time. It must have been a difficult day.

MINISTER ANDREWS

Well these things happen from time to time in politics, that’s one of those days. Malcolm is now leader and we’ve got to get on with the job.

QUESTION

Will you serve in a Turnbull cabinet?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Look, I stood for deputy leader last night to indicate clearly to Malcolm, after he’d been elected leader that I am prepared to reach out to him and work with him to ensure that we have a good government. That’s important for the good of the country, it’s important for the good of the people, and it’s for the good of the Party. So I’ve made that clear from that action I took last night and having I garnered about a third of the votes in those circumstances I think indicates that that broad church that he spoke about last night is represented by people like me.

QUESTION

So you would say it’s required and incumbent on the new leader to keep individuals like yourself and the more conservative element of the Party room to stay in the Cabinet, and indeed to promote some as well?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Well, Malcolm said last night that this is a broad church. The Liberal Party has only worked well when it’s been a broad church and the Leader has the role of seeking to unify the Party. That’s an important role and that must respect people from across the spectrum within the Liberal Party, and that’s what our base would expect.

QUESTION

So you ran as Deputy as somewhat of an olive branch to the new leader to say, look, we know you’ve got to heal the Party, and I’m willing to be part of that?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Malcolm had been elected Leader that that stage, it would have been easy to sit back and not have made that gesture. I made that gesture quite clearly, and obviously a number of my colleagues supported me in doing that.

QUESTION

Would you like to stay as Defence Minister as well?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Well this is a very significant time for Defence. We are just in the throws of concluding a Defence White Paper, which is about the next 20 years of Defence in Australia. We’re going through the process for the evaluation for the submarines, we’re about to launch the evaluation for the Future Frigates and Offshore Patrol Vessels etc. It takes months to get on top of a complex portfolio like that, and obviously I’d be prepared to continue to serve.

QUESTION

Do you think that Malcolm Turnbull can heal the party now after what was a very decisive period, albeit a very public period? In the fact that there was a non-spill back in February, it hasn’t been a secret to anyone that there have been concerns about the Abbott leadership.

MINISTER ANDREWS

Well it is incumbent on all of us and that’s why I’m here this morning saying what I’m saying this morning. That is, I’m reaching out to Malcolm who’s been elected, that’s a fact. He’s said it was a broad church. It’s now incumbent on all of us, including Malcolm, to make sure that we are not divided, that we work together. The alternative of electing Labor again is unthinkable.

QUESTION

And you would like to stay on as Defence Minister, just to be unequivocal about that?

MINISTER ANDREWS

I’m making it clear that I am happy to continue in this role because, a) it’s a broad church, b) this is a very significant time for Defence and we have to do what is right for the good of this country and the people of Australia.

QUESTION

There were some reports last night that Christopher Pyne would move into Defence and that the submarines would stay in Adelaide. That was the early report from the Adelaide Advertiser. What do you make of those?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Look there’s going to be all sorts of speculation. The reality is that whoever wins the submarine bid, we’ve already said that a significant portion of that work – maybe all of it – will be done in Adelaide. So that’s not really an issue.

QUESTION

Alright, let’s talk about Tony Abbott. How is he pulling up after losing the job?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Look I spoke to Tony last night. I spoke to him as early as this morning. He was in a reflective mood, as you would expect, but stoic. He’s been around for a long time like all of us have.

QUESTION

So what do you put it down to, the fact that he’s been toppled less than two years into the job?

MINISTER ANDREWS

There is a sort of pattern that seems to have emerged in Australian politics over the last few years. I’m not sure that this is the best we in which we should run our political system. I thought that when Labor was in government. I think the Australian public generally think they have the prerogative for deciding who is Prime Minister. But it’s happened now. Malcolm is the leader as I see it, and we’ve got to be unified or we will be out of office.

QUESTION

One of the key positions is Treasury. You would expect Scott Morrison would take that job and I guess that is part of the healing process as well, because Scott Morrison has a lot of respect and support of your colleagues and he voted for Tony Abbott.

MINISTER ANDREWS

That is ultimately a matter for Malcolm as leader. What’s important is, as he said last night, this is a broad church and that broad church needs to be reflected otherwise we will not command the support of our base and we will command the support of the Australian people.

QUESTION

What do you think of the claims of treachery that have been made and levelled at some of your colleagues?

MINISTER ANDREWS

Look, lots of things are said in the lead up to contests like this. They are willing contests, that’s the reality of it. If you don’t have people who have strong opinions in politics and strong convictions in politics then we’re not getting the right people. But the challenge today is to now put that in the past, to get beyond those divisions that were there about the leadership, and to ensure that we can be united. That’s what I’m offering and that’s important.

QUESTION

You’re offering the loyalty as well, obviously. It’s one thing to serve, another to say that the entire Cabinet is going to be entirely loyal as well.

MINISTER ANDREWS

Loyalty is important. Loyalty begets loyalty. So that’s where it is at the moment.

QUESTION

What do you think of Malcolm Turnbull as a person?

MINISTER ANDREWS

I’ve always liked Malcolm. I’ve sat next to him in the Parliament for some time now. There are all sorts of individuals in Parliament. At the end of the day we have to work together as a team and that will be the test.

Ends.