3AW Drive - Interview with Nick McCallum

Release Date: 
21 September 2015

NICK MCCALLUM: So Mr Tudge, you were speaking to Tom on Friday and you didn't know what your fate would be. When did you get the call and how relieved were you when you got it?

ALAN TUDGE: Nick, I got a phone call from Prime Minister Turnbull on Sunday and he asked me to continue to serve in his Government as his Assistant Minister directly reporting to him. Of course I accepted that role.

In some respects it's not about me and my position. This is about putting in place a team that can take us forward and that can do our very best for the nation.

NICK MCCALLUM: I'll ask you about that in a second. What was the atmosphere like? What was the feeling like? You were there on the ground floor as it were when the swearing in took place. What was the atmosphere like about so many new and young ministers?

ALAN TUDGE: That's right Nick, the swearing in has just occurred this morning and we'll be having a full Ministry meeting this afternoon.

There was obviously people who were very pleased and very happy they were offered those roles. Being a member of parliament is a great honour and a great responsibility, and being a member of the government and executive is an even greater honour and responsibility. I think people realise that and they have their families there to be there for the occasion.

Of course Nick there was quite a different line-up because we've got five women who are members of the Cabinet which I think is terrific. We've got our first ever female Defence Minister. We've also got a couple of other interesting bits of history which was made today as well with the youngest ever member of the executive in Wyatt Roy who has become an assistant minister. Also Ken Wyatt has become an assistant minister and that makes him the first ever indigenous member of the executive in Australia.

All around people were pleased and I think we've put together a very good team to take us forward.

NICK MCCALLUM: There were way more changes than were anticipated. Were you surprised at how progressive the changes were?

ALAN TUDGE: Yeah I probably was Nick I wasn't expecting there to be so many changes but when you look through the changes that were made I think there were some very good ones.

Of course I'm disappointed for some of my friends who are no longer in the Cabinet or in the Ministry. But at the same time it provides opportunities for other people like Marise Payne, like Kelly O'Dwyer, Josh Frydenberg, the latter two are great Victorians now into Cabinet.

NICK MCCALLUM: Politics is politics, and when you promote people you also create powerful enemies as well. How difficult is it going to be for Malcolm Turnbull and his team to keep a lid on those people- who as I say, politics being politics- are going to be upset, they're going to leak, in many cases they will work actively work against the current Ministry?

ALAN TUDGE: I hope they don't do that and my expectation is that they won't. To be honest Nick I think this is what differentiates us a little bit from the Labor Party. When Julia Gillard took out Kevin Rudd, it created a massive split within the Labor Party that didn't heal for the next four years and in some respects it still hasn't healed.

I don't think we'll have that same situation inside the Liberal Party...

NICK MCCALLUM: Although ,any would argue that you've had it for the last two years.

ALAN TUDGE: I don't think that's the case and I certainly know that Monday night when the vote was taken to install Malcolm Turnbull to remove Tony Abbott, there was no real anger against Tony Abbott, in some respects people voted with a bit of a heavy heart knowing that they needed a change- those people who did support Malcolm Turnbull.

I think Malcolm also has got the ability to unite the party. There'll be people like me, I was loyal to Tony Abbott as his Parliamentary Secretary. I voted for Tony Abbott last Monday night. But I will absolutely work my backside off to do whatever I can to support the Government and through the Government support Australia.

NICK MCCALLUM: Do you think Mr Turnbull should've had more conservatives in the Cabinet? Because he really has slewed the party over to his side in terms of the executive, rather than pay lip service to the conservatives and let them know that they're valued.

ALAN TUDGE: Well there still are a few identifiable conservatives within the Cabinet...

NICK MCCALLUM: But a lot of them have been dumped and sent away and that creates a powerful rump that will pick away.

ALAN TUDGE: I hope that's not the case Nick. I honestly don't think that it will be the case.

Our party is made up of two philosophical streams if you like- one being the liberal stream and the other being the conservative stream. We've always been that broad church combining those two things together. I still think we will do that and indeed we have to. So you still have people like Mathias Cormann as the Finance Minister, Peter Dutton who's the Immigration Minister, Josh Frydenberg coming in as the new Energy and Resources Minister. You've got a few key people like that who have come from the conservative tradition and of course they'll be balanced out by people who are more on the liberal side of things.

We have to unite those two stream, otherwise we won't be successful. I think Malcolm Turnbull has done that and I think our party will unite now and just get on with the job of focusing on the task ahead, focusing on the Australian people because at the end of the day that's what they want us to do, that's what they pay us to do and that's certainly what I want to do.

NICK MCCALLUM: Alan Tudge, new Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, thanks for your time and congratulations on the new gig.

ALAN TUDGE: Thanks so much Nick.