TRANSCRIPT: TODAY SHOW - Mack Horton; US-Australia relations; Coles mini collectables

13 August 2019


SUBJECT: Mack Horton; US-Australia relations; Coles mini collectables

GEORGIE GARDNER, TODAY: Welcome back. There's been a new twist in the Mack Horton podium protest story with the Aussie swimming champion issued an official warning overnight by the sports international governing body for failing to stand next to Chinese swimmer Sun Yang at the World Championships. Plenty more to discuss on this. To do so, I am joined by Northern Territory Senator Malarndirri McCarthy from Canberra and 6PR's Oliver Peterson in Perth. Good morning and welcome to you both. Malarndirri, therell be no punishment for Horton but it is a clear warning from FINA saying his protest goes against regulation. It was done in the wrong setting there on the podium. How else does an athlete get traction on this issue of stamping out drugs in sport?

MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, NT SENATOR: That's a good point. Clearly, for Mack he'd reached a point where this was the only way that he could express his frustration and obviously deep disappointment at what he felt was perhaps an injustice for him personally. I don't think, Georgie, that he's actually spoken about why he's done what he's done. Clearly he's sent a message around the world that whatever has happened over the past months and years in fact, simply has not been addressed and this was his way of responding.

GARDNER: I think he has labelled Sun a drug cheat certainly in the past. Ollie, many swimmers right around the world absolutely support Horton on this. Apparently when he entered the dining hall after the race it erupted in applause. The feeling is very much that Horton's protest was not against Sun himself but a protest against the governance of the sport. They think that FINA is a toothless tiger.

OLIVER PETERSON, 6PR: And this is exactly the kind of stance somebody needs to take. I applaud Horton for doing exactly what he did, and as you say, it is a toothless tiger. We have these allegations when he was tested last year, some in his team decided to smash the vials of blood. This is all going to be heard before FINA in September. There's a huge cloud hanging over the head of Sun Yang to be competing in the World Championships right now. If Mack Horton didn't take the action he did on Sunday night, it's turning a blind eye to it. He was suspended back in 2014 for in few months. Mack Horton has labelled him a drug cheat in the past, and this is a very strong message that he's sending to the governing body, he's sending to the drug authorities as well. If Yang is found guilty of this in September, yes hell be stripped of the medal. Why was he competing in this at all? Well done to Mack Horton for taking a stand. As you say, when he entered the Mess Hall, all of the swimmers applauded what he did. Any issues or any controversy labelled towards Horton is just the governing authorities trying to take the heat of themselves because of the inaction they made with Sun Yang. This needs to be resolved as soon as possible and well done to Mack Horton for taking this stand. We should stand with him.

GARDNER: Mack Horton has received online death threats from Sun's supporters as a result of this. So I think youre absolutely right: we do need to hear from FINA and we need action not words. Lets move on. We're getting more details this morning about Prime Minister Scott Morrisons upcoming visit to United States. The White House has confirmed overnight it will honour our Prime Minister and his wife Jenny with an extravagant state dinner. That's a privilege only reserved for the closest international allies. In a statement the White House has said: The visit will celebrate the countrys close friendship and shared history, and reaffirm our common vision for global peace, security, and prosperity. Ollie this is quite an honour for Scott Morrison. I think 2006 was the last State Dinner when John Howard was PM. This cements Scott Morrison's stature on the international stage but is it a good thing for our PM to get close to a President who of course is mired in controversy?

PETERSON: Yes he is. I think this guy is beyond domestic politics and even American politics. The relationship is so, so important. I think what you want to come out of it first and foremost is the President and his Press Secretary know the name of Scott Morrison. Remember when Malcolm Turnbull was there he was called Prime Minister Trumble. Thats putting a light-hearted look at it for a moment. Its obviously important. We look at the economic and trade relationship and particularly Australia's role that we play in the South Pacific and our role with China. We know America has American first policies particularly under the Trump administration. It's very important that Scott Morrison is honoured in this dinner as Bill Shorten would have been if he was elected Prime Minister a few months ago to make sure we cement this relationship. As I say, it goes well and truly beyond domestic politics here in Australia and even politics within America. The relationship, the US is very important.

GARDNER: Malarndirri, Ollie is right. Our relationship with the US is absolutely vital both politically and economically. What would you to like see Scott Morrison achieve from this visit apart from having a diplomatic win.

MCCARTHY: Absolutely the relationship is critical between Australia and the US. I think it's important to make sure that with all the warmth and no doubt sincerity in the welcome of our Prime Minister to the US, that our Prime Minister also asks hard questions Georgie. In terms of relationships, in terms of the values. Clearly we've seen things coming from the US that are of concern, even just so far as their Senators in the US and the accusations against them. So I think there are some things even close friendships you must always be vigilant about asking the hard questions.

GARDNER: And just elaborate on the hard questions if you could?

MCCARTHY: Sure. Whether it's to do with refugees, whether it's to do with the treatment of people in their country as much as in our country, these are the hard questions. Making sure that there is fairness, human rights. Making sure that racism is certainly not a part of the culture of the US. As we don't want it here.

GARDNER: Do you think he will?

MCCARTHY: Well I certainly hope so and hed certainly be encouraged to do so.

GARDNER: Quickly to a craze sweeping the country. We're going to end on a I thought it was a light note but maybe not. We're talking the mini collectibles being snapped up by shoppers at some of the major supermarkets. Malarndirri it's not just kids doing this. Some adults are going crazy. Are you one of them?

MCCARTHY: I am definitely not one of them, but I have to say I do laugh when I go to counter and I am asked. My boys are young men now, and I do recall even when they were little I used to love getting those things. I am guilty of that. I think it's one way of certainly encouraging shoppers to come with their children.

GARDNER: It's a very successful ploy by supermarkets.

MCCARTHY: Very much so.

GARDNER: Ollie one shopper got into an absolute row, a frenzy, in fact, when she fell 47 cents short of qualifying for a collectable. What's going on?

PETERSON: It's there to bring joy Georgie. That's the whole point of these things.

GARDNER: Well youve spent more so it's bringing joy to the supermarkets.

PETERSON: The problem is if the answer is Coles minis or these Woolworths mooshies, what the problem? They're meant to be happy, they're meant to be friendly, theyre meant to bring joy.

GARDNER: They're landfill Ollie. I guess that makes me a kill joy, doesn't it?

PETERSON: It does Georgie.

GARDNER: Lovely to chat with you both as always. Thank you so much.