Transcript: Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News - 14 June 2024


Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

14 June 2024

Topics: Thuggish behaviour of John Setka, Prime Minister and Sport's Minister's refusal to stand up for the AFL


Kieran Gilbert:
Now to the Liberal frontbencher, Senator Anne Ruston. Thanks for your time. I'm not sure if you saw Peter Malinauskas, the South Australian Premier, very strong in his condemnation of the behaviour of John Setka and the CFMEU and their threatening tactics towards the AFL. Do you welcome that?

Anne Ruston: Well, absolutely. The thing that's most disappointing is that we're not seeing the same sort of strength of character from our Prime Minister or our Sports Minister, whose responses have been particularly weak and insipid. And yesterday's refusal by the Sports Minister to even address the question, I thought, was a really sad indictment on her representation of the sports that she's supposed to represent.

Kieran Gilbert: What - I'll ask you about that specifically in a moment - But on the broader issue, what is your concern, your underlying concern about what's going on here with the union and this much loved sporting code.

Anne Ruston: Well, look, the reality is that we have got a country at the moment that is being held to ransom by a thuggish union, and it's just completely unacceptable. And you would have thought that the Government, the Federal Government, would have taken the opportunity to call this kind of behaviour out. I think every Australian who has seen the commentary from Mr. Setka would have been absolutely aghast that somebody would do the kind of things that he's doing. I mean, to hold an entire sporting code to ransom just because he doesn't like somebody - It's just completely outrageous. But the most outrageous thing here is the fact that our Government and our Sports Minister have not come out and defended the code that is likely to be most severely impacted by this disgusting behaviour of Mr. Setka and his union.

Kieran Gilbert: And you are the Shadow Minister for Sport. So specifically on that, what should the Minister have done when asked about it yesterday? The Minister was at a Matildas news conference and - though her office says that she had other commitments she had to go to in terms of pictures with those in attendance. But what should she have done in your view?

Anne Ruston: Well, being Sports Minister is more than just chucking on the kit and getting a photo opportunity with elite athletes. There are serious issues that have to be addressed. And yesterday, the Minister thought it was far more important to get her photo opportunity than actually deal with an issue that is going to have a massive, massive impact on one of the two most loved codes of sport in Australia. So what she should have done was actually stood up for the sports that she's employed to represent. She should have stood up and condemned Mr. Setka's behaviour, and she should have represented the AFL like is part of her job. So, I think the Minister - it's a pretty pathetic excuse that you've got something else to do. I've seen plenty of ministers be late for things because something more important came up that they needed to address.

Kieran Gilbert: The Premier in your state has said that if there was any sign that they would use some industrial action against the construction activities in his state, he will be pushing back very strongly indeed. Again, I put to you that that leadership from a Labor figure would be welcomed by you in your home state?

Anne Ruston: Well, I think what it does is it demonstrates, in stark contrast, the weak response we've seen from the Federal Government. You know, of course, we want to see our leaders being leaders. And I think Mr. Albanese has been insipid and weak. I mean, yesterday his response, I thought, was absolutely pathetic to this. The Sports Minister didn't even give a response. So I think it just demonstrates how weak the response has been from the Federal Government, and it's the Federal Government who needs to be standing up to this. Because this is, I mean, it's a form of blackmail. Because the issue that is actually being threatened here by Mr. Setka has got absolutely nothing to do with the issue that he's trying to prosecute. So I think it's probably little more than blackmail, and somebody needs to call out Mr. Setka and his thuggish union for that behaviour.

Kieran Gilbert: Anne Ruston, thanks for your time as always. We'll talk to you soon.

Anne Ruston: Thanks K.G.


tags:  news feature