SUBJECTS: Division and disunity in the Liberal Party; federal election.

NICK McCALLUM: We are joined now by Victorian Senator Kim Carr, who is Labor’s spokesperson on Industry, Innovation, Science and Research.  Senator Carr, good to speak to you and thanks for your time.

SENATOR KIM CARR:  Good afternoon.

McCALLUM: OK, first of all, have you given up hope that the Labor Party can form a government, either in its own right or in minority?

CARR:  No, I haven’t. On the contrary, I believe that this election is wide open. We will not know for some time what the result is. I don’t believe that the Liberals will get a majority.  On the evidence that we have before us it is remote that they will get a majority.  What we have seen is that the frontbenchers of the Liberal Party are talking up their prospects, for internal party reasons, to try to keep Malcolm Turnbull alive. His real difficulty now is that the Turnbull project is dead. It is becoming increasingly obvious that within the Liberal Party itself there is a realisation that that is the case. There is an understanding that the election has produced a disaster for the Liberal Party, and we are likely to see further repercussions and recriminations within the Liberal Party over the coming days.

McCALLUM: But in the lower house you are less likely to be able to form a minority government because you have already said that you won’t do a deal with the Greens, and the other independents are more likely to swing towards the conservative side of politics, aren’t they?

CARR: No, I wouldn’t see it that way. On a two-party preferred basis the Electoral Commission is showing that the Labor Party has secured more votes than the conservatives. That gives you a strong moral argument. The reality is that the people in the Parliament will need to make this work and they will be looking to who can provide a stable government and who has got a policy program that is able to be implemented. And they will want to know whether or not the policy agendas of the various contenders, whether it be Bill Shorten or Malcolm Turnbull or whoever it is that the Liberals decide, is able to be delivered. I believe that the Labor Party is in with a real show here. That will be a matter for negotiations and I can see a circumstance where the Labor Party is able to secure the support of sufficient crossbenchers.     

McCALLUM: But  Mr Shorten has called on Mr Turnbull to resign. He’s not going to do that is he?

CARR: The Liberal back bench may force the issue. This is the point I’m making.  The reason that the Liberals are talking up their confidence – which seems to have been reduced in the past couple of days – is that they are trying to talk up their prospects to keep Malcolm Turnbull  alive.  The Turnbull project itself, though, is well and truly dead. 

McCALLUM: And of course all of this will be academic, wouldn’t it, if the vote for the Labor Party in Victoria was a lot better. You must be furious at Daniel Andrews.

CARR:  No, I’m not. You have to recognise that the Labor vote in Victoria is at a very high point., It could be said that the Labor vote could be improved in any part of the Commonwealth. It would be great to see more seats in Queensland, or of course, it would be great to see more seats in Western Australia. I don’t think that it is a fair proposition to suggest that our position is down to one particular industrial dispute, which I guess is the point that you’re making.

McCALLUM:  But Senator, you’re a very smart man and you have been in politics a very long time. You know that when the rest of the county swings three and a half per cent towards Labor, and Victoria is a Labor Party heartland normally but the swing is only half that, you know realistically of course it had to be a factor?

CARR: Well, it didn’t have an effect in terms of seats. The question about whether it affected the Labor vote is a more open question.  It may well be demographic changes, it may well be other factors at work in Victoria. But we still have a majority of federal seats going to the Labor Party in the State of Victoria. Victoria used to be described as the jewel in the crown of the Liberal Party. These things move over time.

McCALLUM: Senator, would you have preferred in the cold hard light of day if Mr. Andrews had not forced this issue smack bang in the middle of an election campaign,  as emotive as it was? And let’s not get on to the rights and wrongs of it, but he forced it.

CARR:  I wouldn’t say that’s true. What I would say is that I would have preferred if that dispute wasn’t there. It’s been going now for three years.  This has to be seen in the context of what is actually occurring in this state and there were opportunities to resolve the matter earlier and there are a number of factors involved there. I have no doubt that the CFA was used quiet extensively by the Liberal Party. They were able to produce people on the polling stations in some places – using state assets I must say – these are public assets being rolled out for political  purposes,  there may be a few issues raised in that regard.  But the fact remains that the Labor vote in Victoria remains very, very high and remains the highest, primary and two-party preferred, in much of the country. There is no question that it would have been better if the dispute was not there. It would also be the case that there are other factors involved.  We are seeing significant changes in some of these electorates.  It seems that we may have lost one but it is still not clear in terms of Chisholm.

McCALLUM: OK, moving on to your Medicare scare campaign, now are you concerned that the Federal Police is investigating a text in relation to that?

CARR: No I am not concerned, because this is a Government that has been only too happy to use the police for political purposes.  We saw that through on the NBN issue, we have seen no evidence that they are willing to investigate leaks from the Cabinet in regards to national security questions. 

But we now have this talk by the Attorney-General, about things he believes to be breaches of the law. He says on the one hand as Attorney- General I can’t comment on internal inquiries,  but then goes on to comment on internal inquiries.  There is no doubt that the Prime Minister in a fit of pique has suggested that there is a problem here, we want to see what comes of that.

McCALLUM:  But surely, Senator if this text is purported to come from Medicare, that is just wrong isn’t it?

CARR: Let me make this point, I saw the reports of this text and it did not to me say that it came from Medicare. It had a heading on itof one type, but it did not purport to come from Medicare. What we know is that the issue is of great substance and a matter of deep concern for the Australian people and the future of Medicare is a critical issue in this election campaign

McCALLUM: It became a critical issue because I think you misrepresented the Liberal Party. Of course there were concerns about their healthcare policy,  of course there were concerns about broken promises,  but to condense that into they want to privatise Medicare is just wrong.

CARR: Well I don’t agree with that, and this is the nature of politics in one sense, in the past we would have said that the Liberal Party has misrepresented the Labor party on climate change.

McCALLUM: Yes that’s another issue and another time I concede that you not the only ones to do it, but in this particular case you did.

CARR:  I don’t agree with your representation on the matter , what I can say to you is that the Labor Party perused a campaign round those fundamental family issues the future of health care, the future of education and the future of jobs and we make no apologies for that whatsoever. 

Bill Shorten is a very effective messenger on this and was able to communicate more directly with people, irrespective of the enormous support that the media provided the Liberal Party, irrespective of the benefits of incumbency.  The fact remains that a majority of Australians on the two-party-preferred voted as published by the AEC today suggest that they reject the Liberal Party’s proposition and we are now looking forward to a situation where we need to make this Parliament work and there are real prospects that there will be a change of government.

McCALLUM: And Senator, if you do become the government and even in Opposition, you are going to have to deal with senators such as Senator Hanson. Now obviously there are going to be stark differences on many issues but there will be issues where you will need her vote., How are you going to go with that?

CARR: First of all I think we can thank Malcolm Turnbull for the fiasco that is now in the Senate. This whole electoral model that he has pursued in a naked power grab for the Liberal Party has blown up in their face and the whole issue of the joint sitting is now off the agenda. The whole agenda around the Senate has now fallen to pieces. This is why we can assert that the Turnbull project is dead.

McCALLUM: OK, but can you work with Senator Hanson? 

CARR:  I have been in the Senate a long time. The reality is that you do what you can to work with all senators. You provide them with the respect that’s due because they are elected and you make your case on proposals that you’re advancing. We will wait and see how that turns out.

McCALLUM: Senator Di Natale of the Greens says that he is not going to meet with her. Will you meet with her?  

CARR:  I don’t know if I am going to have cause to, but I can tell you now that invariably Senator Di Natale will be obliged to talk to everybody in the Senate and all his colleagues in the Senate will be obliged to talk to one another at some point. That is the nature of the Senate chamber. It is quite an intimate chamber in one sense.  What is he saying? Tthat he won’t speak to people? Won’t give them the time of day?  That’s nonsense. That’s just not the way that we behave professionally., But we will fundamentally disagree with One Nation on the big issues of the future direction of Australia, particularly around the issue of race and the treatment of religious minorities and about democratic rights -- these  are fundamental differences of approach that I can’t see being bridged.                               

McCALLUM: Senator Kim Carr, Shadow Minister for Industry, Innovation, Science and Research, thanks indeed for your time  

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