TOM ELLIOTT: Well we just heard from former Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi a moment ago, now one of his former colleagues Senator Scott Ryan, still with the Liberal Party joins us. Senator, good afternoon.
SENATOR SCOTT RYAN: G’day Tom.
ELLIOTT: Okay so you heard what Cory Bernardi has had to say, is he a traitor?
SENATOR RYAN: Look I’m not going to name-call, but I’ll be honest and say it’s very disappointing. I’ve known Cory, I get along very well with him, but I think it also represents a turning his back on you know hundreds and thousands of Liberal Party volunteers that stood on polling booths and helped him get elected. But you know he’s made his decision, and the job of the Government is to get on with it and work with the Senate as it is.
ELLIOTT: Is it right that he can stay in the Senate, even though the party that he purported to represent he’s no longer a part of?
SENATOR RYAN: Well I don’t know what alternative there would be to that Tom, because I don’t know if we could even legally force someone to require leaving the Senate or leaving the House of Representatives if they left the party. So, the reality is he’s left. It is disappointing. I don’t think it reflects the fairest way to treat the Liberal Party because while Cory was one of our more conservative members, nothing’s really changed in the Liberal Party since he stood for election, in my view anyway.
ELLIOTT: I agree with that, but he’s obviously very upset, and I think this hasn’t just happened in the last six or seven months, it’s been brewing for a couple of years, do you think the Liberal Party has strayed from its core beliefs?
SENATOR RYAN: No. Look, no-one in any major political party would agree with everything, every position that party adopts. And compromise is necessary in life, in our political party, in our family homes, in our businesses. Just like it is to get legislation through Parliament. Now, I think in reality Cory is one of the more conservative members the Liberal Party has had in my 20 years of membership. And he in the end wasn’t happy making those compromises. And so he’s decided to go out on his own. I compromise on some things that I don’t get my way on too.
ELLIOTT: Does this decision by Cory Bernardi make life even more difficult for Malcolm Turnbull.
SENATOR RYAN: I don’t see how. Now we need nine out of 10 members of the crossbench in the Senate. When the two vacancies are filled we’ll need 10 out of 12 members of the crossbench in the Senate. And I hope that Cory will basically vote for the policies that he stood for election on, that even though he’s left the Liberal Party, he’ll still vote for those policies that he was elected on because that’s what we’re trying to get through the Senate.
ELLIOTT: Well he did commit on air just 10 minutes ago, said he would still support the Government on most issues, that remains to be seen.
Look now you had another announcement today which I think has been somewhat overshadowed by this, but the retired politicians’ gold card is being axed, tell us about that.
SENATOR RYAN: So, several years ago there was an announcement to abolish it, and we’re bringing in the legislation this week to do it. There’s been a slight delay, but we’ve also toughened it up. It was going to be a six year phase-out period, and we’ve said that the life gold pass, which gave about 200 former MPs and ministers free travel, business class for them and their spouse in Australia on airlines, that’ll be abolished immediately when the Parliament passes it. As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, even though former prime ministers can still access it, he is not going to, when he eventually leaves public life.
ELLIOTT: But he’s not planning to leave public life soon is he?
SENATOR RYAN: No he won’t, no, he also made that clear.
ELLIOTT: All right thank you Senator Scott Ryan, former colleague of Cory Bernardi