Matt White: Well, now we are joined by Education Minister Simon Birmingham. Simon, it is day two of what is going to be a 15-week campaign. Doesn’t the fact that we are already talking about Tony Abbott indicate that you have got a big problem?
Simon Birmingham: Well, we are not in the campaign yet. There is still some governing to be done before we get to an election campaign, and I hope frankly that the Senate ends what has been a long period of dysfunction and actually does get on and use the three extra sitting weeks that have been given to it, and then we may be able to avoid having a July 2 election. But that really is in the hands of the Labor Party, the Greens and the crossbench Senators.
Matt White: But what about Tony Abbott buying in straight away and constantly referring to his Government and the likeness to the Turnbull Government? Has he hijacked the campaign already? The campaign has started, mate.
Simon Birmingham: No, well Tony made clear that he supports the re-election of the Turnbull Government. Yes, there are areas of continuity that we indeed are running on – secure borders, national security. These are areas where the Coalition has had great success, and that does involve the work that Tony did as Prime Minister.
Carrie Bickmore: What did you make of Cory Bernardi's letter that’s been made public today, the response to the mum who was in support of the Safe School's program?
Simon Birmingham: I haven't seen that letter, so I can't help you on that one.
Carrie Bickmore: Well, shall I read it for you? It says: thanks for your email, you clearly haven't got any idea what is in this program. If you did then you would be worried about your children being exposed to unhealthy ideas at such an early age. Give it a go and get your five year old a book called The Gender Fairy and let him experiment with being a girl. It was written by the same people as the SSC program and is suitable for four-year-olds. Then when he is 15 he can just use the girls' change room whilst using the links provided on the information website to find more about bondage clubs and adult sex toys. This is what the Safe Schools material encourages. If you think that’s okay then I worry for your children. You have to agree that the language now, the debate around this is hideous?
Simon Birmingham: There is certainly some language there that I wouldn't use, and that is not an accurate reflection of what is in the Safe Schools program. There are genuine concerns contained in that about the type of websites that you can link from in relation to some of the recommended sites of the Safe Schools program. So that is where we have taken action, but other areas of that are frankly not an accurate reflection and not terribly helpful.
Peter Helliar: Simon, on the ABC last night the Prime Minister was asked a very simple question and he, I guess, had an issue with some of the colourful language. Let’s take a look
Reporter: What was the point of knifing Tony Abbott?
Malcolm Turnbull: We shouldn't be using violent metaphors like that.
[End of excerpt]
Peter Helliar: Let's rewind to February last year and see where he had less of an issue with that term.
Malcolm Turnbull: This is the man that led Kevin Rudd over the cliff into an abyss where he then stabbed him in the back.
[End of excerpt]
Peter Helliar: Not so serious, what has changed?
Simon Birmingham: Well, obviously the office of Prime Minister brings with it a certain level of need to try to ensure the national conversation is tone-appropriate, shall we say, and in this instance he is right to make sure that we elevate the conversation [indistinct] …
Peter Helliar: [Talking over] Is the word hypocrisy the word you are looking for, Simon? I mean, Leigh Sales isn’t the Prime Minister, she is allowed to say that.
Simon Birmingham: Well, she’s allowed to say it, but that’s just not the word that obviously he would use.
Peter Helliar: Okay.
Matt White: All right Minister, it’s the start of a long, long campaign. Thanks for your time tonight.
Simon Birmingham: Thank you.