Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Interview Transcripts"
Sep 27, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: AFL grand final; energy.

HOST: Good morning to you both.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

HOST: Hey, before we get into burning policy issues of the day I just wanted to ask you Albo, you were pretty chirpy this time about a year ago about the mighty Hawks, but I am just wondering how you are enjoying a few weeks off this finals series?

ALBANESE: Well I am actually going on leave on Friday. I am going up to Queensland and I will be watching both grand finals in a pub somewhere and I’m looking forward to it actually. I think the Crows-Tigers game should be an absolute cracker. Your mighty Crows, I thought you were playing for them. You were in the dressing room I noticed last weekend.

HOST: I got a bit excited. I managed to sneak in and give Eddie a bear hug. It was unbelievable.

ALBANESE: You haven’t injured Eddie or anything have you?

HOST: No way, I would not even risk doing that. What about you Chris, are you going along? I know you are a Crows Ambassador.

PYNE: Yes, I am a Crows Ambassador. I was there at the preliminary final with my family. It was very, very, very exciting. The crowd didn’t want to leave. If you remember, we all just stood three singing the song three times the whole way through which was very exciting. But no, I’m not going unfortunately. I am going away with my wife for the weekend for my birthday.

HOST: Good work. Happy birthday to you.

ALBANESE: Well, enjoy the game. I wish you all the best of luck.

PYNE: Thank you.

ALBANESE: I can relate to the poor old Tigers as a South Sydney rugby league tragic. I know what it is like to support a traditional club and wait decades to actually get your team in the grand final. But the Crows of course have got their own story with a bit of tragedy attached to it unfortunately of last year. So I’m very pleased for both clubs.

HOST: Well said, All right, let’s turn our attention to matters emanating out of Canberra, first and foremost.

ALBANESE: Nothing is more important that the grant final.

HOST: Well you will note I didn’t use the words to “something more important’’. Can we talk a bit about, Christopher Pyne, about the gas shortfall and the Federal Government’s response to it? I just wonder has the federal Liberal Party’s faith in the free market ever been at a lower ebb? You have canvassed in recent times purchasing coal-fired power plants, export controls on gas, and challenged market-based mechanisms to deal with climate change. Are you moving away from the purity of the free market?

PYNE: Well I have never been an advocate for a pure free market and I don’t think many people are in this country. I mean, there is obviously a range of views across the spectrum. I have always been a believer that when government needs to act, it should act. However I think some of the Labor people are more on the socialist side of the spectrum and think big government is the answer. I don’t think it is the answer. But sometimes the market requires that government steps in and unfortunately when Labor lifted all these controls on gas exports many years ago, gas flowed out in exports, earning the companies huge profits. But it left the domestic market short of gas.

Now the Government has taken action and more gas is flowing and the companies are coming to the party, which is a good thing and we expect them to do so even more so between now and the end of the year or we will use the mechanisms that are at our disposal to force them to do so. But they are, to their credit, actually responding to the Government’s pressure.

The ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, he pointed out this week that gas, the expense of gas, is one of the driving forces behind high electricity bills. He also pointed out that the networks, the poles and wires, is the largest cost in the electricity price. So I think we are now as a nation understanding a lot better why electricity prices have risen and we are doing something about it and I think that is a very good thing.

HOST: Can I ask you Albo, if you guys are in Government are you pulling a different lever with regard to this crisis or are you just advancing the timeline?

ALBANESE: Well lucky for Christopher that he has only been in Government for a week the way that you hear them talk. They’ve been in Government for a long time. We have been saying that the trigger needs to be pulled when it comes to ensuring that there’s a reservation of gas for use domestically and the Government is still refusing to do so and we don’t quite understand, apart from the fact there’s an issue over Barnaby Joyce with his citizenship issues and he’s the person responsible as the Acting Minister, why this simply hasn’t occurred.

I must say that when the trade union movement in particular were calling for domestic gas reservation years ago, they were derided. And when Labor adopted it as our policy we were criticised by the then Coalition as well as this being a creeping socialism and an anti-market…

PYNE: I hate to inject some facts into this discussion but the truth is…

ALBANESE: I’m pleased the Government has come around.

PYNE: The gas mechanism doesn’t actually operate until January the 1st. So this nonsense that’s Anthony’s talking about to apparently pull an imaginary trigger and everything will be fixed the reality is….

ALBANESE: Yes that’s right. You send the signal by indicating that you pull the trigger then you will get action.

PYNE: And at what figure would you set it? When three months ago we were told that there are about 36 petajoules not in the system (inaudible) and this week we were told it was 107 by the regulator. Now on Labor’s logic you would have pulled the trigger at 36 and it would still be about 70 short so in fact Labor is just running a political argument. We’re actually trying to competently fix the problem (inaudible).

ALBANESE: But you’re pretending you haven’t been in Government for years.

PYNE: You’re the ones who allowed the gas to be exported in the first place.

HOST: Without wanting to sound flippant guys, we’re sure that these are important issues and we’ll continue to explore them at a later date but right now we have to keep talking about the football again. We’re crossing over to Melbourne shortly.

PYNE: I’m very relieved about that.

HOST: It’s not that we’re shallow.

ALBANESE: Enjoy your road trip. Leave Eddie alone.

HOST: Tell you what if last Friday was (inaudible) god knows what would happen Saturday if I laid my eyes on the guy. Albo and Chris Pyne, all the best and we’ll chat again next week, hopefully in the happy afterglow of the Crows’ third flag.

Sep 26, 2017

Transcript of doorstop, Canberra

Subjects; Cuts to Federal infrastructure budget; marriage equality

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The Government has today released its Final Budget Outcome for the financial year 2016-2017. What that shows is that the underspend when it comes to infrastructure investment under this Government is even worse than what was indicated at the time of the May Budget. These figures are the Government’s own figures, the Government’s figures it put in its budgets of 2014, 2015, and 2016, about what they said they would do on infrastructure investment. What we see over those first three budgets of the Coalition is a $3.9 billion underspend on infrastructure.

That has a real impact on issues like road safety when you have the Black Spots Program underspent. They said they’d spend $220 million; the actual spend is $105 million. Heavy vehicle safety, they said they’d spend $171 million, the actual spend is just $51 million. What that means in practice is that black spots around the country that should have been fixed, that had money in the budget to fix them, haven’t been done. What that means around the country is that heavy vehicle rest stops, providing an important break on those major national highways, that could have been built, that had money in the budget to build them, haven’t been built. And the Government’s response from Minister Chester yesterday was to say that we were playing politics with this issue. Well, Minister Chester needs to understand that this issue is serious; is serious to the tune of some $3.9 billion.

Now you hear a lot from the National Party, from Barnaby Joyce, as well as Darren Chester, about the importance of the cattle industry. Well here’s a program for you: Improving Cattle Supply Chains, allocated $35 million over the first three years, actual spend: zero, nothing, not a dollar on a program. Why do they have programs if absolutely nothing is happening in them? But that’s what we’ve seen across the board under this Government; a disgraceful performance, one that underlines the fact that they are not serious about infrastructure investment.

The Parliamentary Library has found that infrastructure investment will decline from 0.4 per cent as a share of GDP to 0.2 per cent over the next 10 years. It will be cut in half. That has a real impact on growth, and on jobs.

Just as these effective cuts of some $3.9 billion on the Government’s own figures. We’re not talking here about projects like Cross River Rail where they’ve cut out almost a billion dollars, or Melbourne Metro where they cut out $3 billion. This is the Government’s own figures, what they said they would do on top of the cuts that they’ve made to important projects, particularly to public transport projects. The Government stands condemned on its own figures. And if I was the Minister, frankly, I’d be considering my position if I’d performed this badly, year on year, for budget after budget, in terms of actually delivering on what commitments I’d made in the budget papers from the time that the Government was elected.

Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Just while we’re on these figures, by tying the spending to the national road toll, are you suggesting that the Government will have blood on its hands if this spending isn’t fast tracked?

ALBANESE: Well look what clearly is happening here, you look at the underspend. The Heavy Vehicle Safety Program is about safety. Supposed to spend $171 million; spent $51 million, a $120 million underspend. They’ve spent just a little bit under a quarter of what they said they would do. The Black Spots Program that targets projects, each one costs around about $160,000. It targets black spots; it targets by definition, the areas which are most dangerous. Northern Australian roads: they said they’d spend $100 million; they’ve spent $12 million. There are other programs like major road investment, there’s a $1.7 billion underspend. A lot of that is on major highways. The Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan has been underspent. Improving Cattle Supply Chains down to zero, not a dollar gone out the door.

The fact is that infrastructure investment is important to make a difference to productivity, but it’s also important in terms of road safety, and the Government just needs to get its act together. This isn’t just one year, if it happened one year you might think, oh well, they’re finding their feet. They’re now into their fifth year, effectively, of government, and we still find that all of these programs, on the Government’s own figures, they just haven’t got their act together.

JOURNALIST: Where do these unspent funds end up?

ALBANESE: They end up back with Finance and Treasury, back in Revenue. There’s no indication they’ve been brought forward, and programs increased in the future to make up for that, and when you’re talking about $3.9 billion, that is substantial. From time to time there will be a weather event that slows down work on a major project. We all understand that happens. But what should occur when that happens, if there’s a slowdown in one area, you increase the speed in another, where if you’ve got your act together and you’ve got your planning right, then you can do that, and what that does is make sure that jobs are continuing to be created, and that you’re getting that activity in public sector construction.

JOURNALIST: Aren’t they contributing to the budget bottom line?

ALBANESE: Well they certainly contribute to the reduction that the Government is talking about on its projected deficit. A pretty pathetic performance of course from the Government, whereby they’re out there proclaiming that somehow these are good figures, when in fact the deficit is three times higher than what Joe Hockey predicted it would be for this financial year, for 2016-17 when he brought down the 2014 Budget. And of course we’ve seen debt balloon out by some $147 billion on this Government’s watch.

JOURNALIST: The deficit isn’t lower than expected as you said, are you saying its not worthwhile if the road toll and things like that keep increasing?

ALBANESE: Well what I’m saying, clearly, is that the Government is not performing when it comes to infrastructure year after year. These are the Government’s own figures; this is a separate question from whether the Government should be funding Cross River Rail, from whether the Government should be speeding up investment on the Pacific Highway. I think both of those things they should be doing. We’re seeing a significant reduction, for example, in the current financial year compared with last, on investment in the Pacific Highway. These are the Government’s own figures, so on this they’re not even doing what they themselves said they would do.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask you about Frances Abbott’s contribution to the marriage equality debate?

ALBANESE: Frances Abbott is making this contribution as an Australian citizen. She has said herself that she wants to attend her aunt’s wedding, Christine Abbott, or Foster as she is now. I was on Sydney Uni SRC with Christine many years ago, and certainly, the fact is that so many Australians are touched directly by a friend, a relative, someone who they care about, and they want to see them be able to express that commitment that they have with their life partner in front of friends and family. Frances Abbott is just one of those people, she has expressed her views, she’s certainly entitled to do that independently of the views of other people in her family, and I certainly respect her contribution.

Thank you.

Sep 26, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Newsday with Peter Van Onselen, SKY News

Subjects: Budget; energy, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, marriage equality.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Thanks so much for your company.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day Peter.

VAN ONSELEN: Now I understand, we might just show the image of it, that you tweeted a picture of yourself in a rainbow flag t-shirt holding a poodle. Is that yours?

ALBANESE: That is mine. Her name is Toto, so she likes rainbows, as in – fans out there of Wizard of Oz will recognise where her name derives from.

VAN ONSELEN: Even though you’re an inner city MP, Mr Albanese, I never saw you as a poodle owner.

ALBANESE: Well she’s a cavoodle and she is a lovely dog. And I think when you live in a heavily urbanised community you should get an appropriate dog that doesn’t require a huge amount of open space.

VAN ONSELEN: Fair enough. All right let’s get into some of the issues of the day.

ALBANESE: She’s a valued member of our family.

VAN ONSELEN: I don’t doubt it. I don’t doubt it. And good for people who are allergic to dogs too, if it’s a cavoodle. But look, we move on, we move on. So the big issues of the day; obviously these Budget results, Anthony Albanese. The Government’s got a right to crow about this don’t they? I mean at the end of the day they said the Budget would be one thing and it’s come in with the actuals $4.4 billion better.

ALBANESE: Well this of course has come in at three times the figure that Joe Hockey predicted in the first Coalition Budget in 2014. We’ve also seen the debt increase by some $147 billion on this Government’s watch. And in my area of infrastructure it’s a disaster. You’ve had, over the Government’s first three years, $3.9 billion of underspend on what it itself said it would commit to over the following 12 months.

So areas like the Black Spots Program; they said there would be $220 million, the actual spend is $105 million. The Heavy Vehicles Safety Program; $171 million in the Budget, but only $51 million spent. And the most remarkable program of all I think is the program for Improving Cattle Supply Chains, where you have National Party Ministers who bung on about the importance of the cattle industry; well they had $35 million allocated over the first three Budgets for this program. In May at the time of the Budget they said they would spend $1.2 million of that – that’s now disappeared completely. Not a dollar out the door. So they’ve actually got a program, which for three years, they haven’t spent a dollar on. That of course means that there has been less expenditure. And the problem with less expenditure on infrastructure is that it means less growth and less revenue coming into Government in the future. It’s bad economic policy to cut infrastructure investment and that’s exactly what this Government has done.

VAN ONSELEN: Can I move onto another issue, Mr Albanese, and get your response to what looks like a little bit of ambiguity for Labor about its Renewable Energy Target of around 45 or 50 per cent. Is that a firm target you plan to hit? Or is that an aspirational target that you may or may not get to?

ALBANESE: Look I reckon what will happen, Peter, is what’s happened even with the Renewable Energy Target that we had of 20 per cent by 2020, which will be exceeded in spite of the best efforts of the Coalition Government to destroy the renewable energy industry.

I mean, you have this debate – are renewables good or bad? Well renewables are happening. I went with Bob Katter up to Hughenden and Kidston in North West Queensland. The Kidston Stage 1; 537,000 solar panels, connected up with storage through using the old gold mines to essentially create both a hydro system to back that up to make sure it can then go into the grid and supply energy in a reliable way. Those two projects between them will power a million homes. We’re seeing massive investment and all that we need is some certainty. I don’t for the life of me understand why this Government can’t get on with the business of adopting the Finkel plan. They themselves created the Finkel Review and now they’re mucking around over whether they will implement it or not.

VAN ONSELEN: OK, but Labor has a 50 per cent renewable energy target and a 45 per cent emissions reduction target. Now there is enough question marks about the first of these two targets. The second one, Bill Shorten – he sounds like he doesn’t believe that is going to be achievable.

ALBANESE: Well the fact is that what we’ve got, if we have a whole-of-government approach, if we give support to the transition that is happening in the economy, if we work on energy efficiency; one of the things that defines I think my contribution to politics is I try to be positive and I think that human ingenuity and use of new technology is showing that things can be delivered. The fact is now renewables are the cheapest form of new energy that is being developed out there. Now 15 years ago, that wasn’t the case. More and more what we see is that new products on the market, including the use of battery storage and hydro to make sure that you have that reliability into the system …

VAN ONSELEN: I appreciate all that and obviously the use of renewables is vital to the driving down of emissions and therefore you are hitting your emission reduction target of 45 per cent. But do you really think you are going to hit it or are you guys going to have to let that go?

ALBANESE: No, we have these plans and we want to get into government so we can set about doing it. But the fact is even this Government has managed to hit the Kyoto targets which, remember under John Howard, who refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol for all those years – I had private Members Bills in the Parliament saying we should get on with the business of joining the world in ratifying Kyoto – and we have done it in spite of the fact that it took a Labor Government to be elected in 2007 and we’ll be commemorating ten years since that event pretty soon. The first act of the Labor Government was to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and that is what set Australia on the road to being a part of the global community when it came to acting on climate change. This Government has sort of got a foot in and a foot out. You know, Tony Abbott talks about renewables, but it is actually his renewable energy target. They talk about the danger of the Paris Accord now, some of Tony Abbott’s friends on the backbench and in industry, but the Government signed up to it.

VAN ONSELEN: But in fairness to Tony Abbott, he inherited a higher renewable energy target than what he ultimately then supported …

ALBANESE: And now he doesn’t support the one that he did support. And now he doesn’t support the one that is his target.

VAN ONSELEN: That is true.

ALBANESE: He is a very confused man.

VAN ONSELEN: But his issue is the Senate, right? Like he would like it to have been brought down more. They had to be realistic about what they could get through the Senate. It was Labor that put the renewable energy target in place. He then brought it down. They would liked to go further, but the reality of the Senate is that it is what it is.

ALBANESE: Tony Abbott now is just playing politics. No matter what Malcolm Turnbull says, you can guarantee that Tony Abbott is against it. There is no doubt that Tony Abbott is a very effective opposition politician, whether it be opposition to the former Labor Government, whether it be opposition to Malcolm Turnbull. But that doesn’t get anything done. That doesn’t serve the nation. The problem isn’t that Tony Abbott is stuck in the past, it’s that he wants the whole of Australia, led by Malcolm Turnbull, to go back there to keep him company. And Malcolm Turnbull seems in capable of saying no, I am not going to return to the past; I am going to embrace the future. And that is why we have so many policies of Malcolm Turnbull, including his reluctance to really get out there and support what is the Government’s own strategy of a voluntary postal survey on marriage equality. Even though Malcolm certainly supports marriage equality, he isn’t going too hard campaigning in favour of it and why on renewable energy and climate change you have some quite bizarre propositions at the moment – that the Government will have publicly funded and subsidised new coal-fired plants that might get going sometime in the decade after next. I mean it is quite extraordinary when we have practical measures that can be taken consistent with the Finkel Report.

VAN ONSELEN: Anthony Albanese I know you are busy down in Canberra for the day. Thanks very much for joining us, finding the time for us here on Newsday. Cheers.

ALBANESE:  Good to be with you Peter.

Sep 25, 2017

Transcript of doorstop, Sydney

Subjects: Turnbull Government’s failure to deliver on infrastructure and road safety programs; Sydney airport.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What we’ve seen from the Coalition Government under both Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull is cuts to infrastructure. They have cut projects like Cross River Rail and Melbourne Metro. They cut public transport funding in Western Australia. They cut the M80 Road project. But that’s only part of the story because even what they promised, they haven’t delivered. In their first three budgets, a $3.7 billion underspend that’s having a real impact on road safety around Australia, at a time when the road toll, for the first time in decades, is actually increasing.

The Black Spots Program – they promised to spend $220 million in their first three years; the actual spend was $105 million, less than half. The Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, which is providing rest stops on our major highways; promised: $171 million; actual spend $64 million, an underspend of $107 million, almost two-thirds.

The Bridges Renewal Program: $180 million promised; $100 million delivered. The Northern Australia Roads Program: $100 million promised; $12 million actually invested, an $88 million underspend on a $100 million program. Even major road investment: $11.8 billion; the actual spend was $10.4 billion.

This shows the failure of this Government when it comes to infrastructure investment, and in the future it’s going to get even worse, because what we know from the Parliamentary Budget Office is that infrastructure investment is set to decline from 0.4% of GDP, as a proportion of the national economy over the next 10 years, to half that, or 0.2%.

This is a government that simply can’t get it right when it comes to infrastructure investment, and is just one of the many failures that they have, along with important infrastructure projects such as the National Broadband Network where of course they are rolling out a hybrid system that includes outdated copper infrastructure, infrastructure that is redundant before its even been rolled out, rather than fibre that is the key to connectivity in the 21st century. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: You mentioned the impact of the spend. Are you suggesting that the underspend has had a direct effect on the road death toll?

ALBANESE: Well there’s no doubt that if you don’t invest in infrastructure, in programs like Black Spots – the Black Spots Program costs a little under $160,000 for each project, and we know because they go back and do the research, that the impact on accidents when black spots are fixed up is about 30% less. So therefore if you’re not investing the money that was actually allocated in budgets for programs like that, for programs like the heavy vehicle rest stops program, then you will have an impact, an underspend of some $3.7 billion over three budgets – not on what Labor says should have been invested, not on what the NRMA or any other motoring authority says should be invested, not what public transport users wanted to see invested – over what the Coalition Government themselves said they would invest in their 2014-15 Budget, in 2015-16 and 2016-17. So this is based upon the Government’s own predictions of money that they put in the budget, so they put it there, and they simply haven’t spent it across the board. It’s one of two things: it’s either incompetence, or it is simply deceptive. I suspect that it’s both. I suspect that the Government hasn’t really wanted to invest in infrastructure, and I also suspect that given its incompetence in a range of areas, that it is incompetence as well.

JOURNALIST: Just briefly touching on the chaos out of Sydney Airport this morning. It’s the second time in less than a month, that these disruptions have been happening and flights have been delayed. There are calls for the Federal Government to scrap a cap or alleviate a cap on the amount of flights that can come in and take off; therefore we wouldn’t have that backlog when it’s happening. Do you think that’s a reasonable call?

ALBANESE: Well it’s actually the opposite that is the case of course and the people making that call know that it’s the case. For example, the chaos previously, just a couple of weeks ago, there was one runway operating. The idea that you can therefore operate at higher capacity than normal with one runway, rather than with two, is quite frankly absurd, and they know that that’s the case. The problem, and the reason why the cap at Sydney Airport is necessary and is important, is shown by today’s events.

The fact is that the peak at Sydney Airport means that once there is any issue, then it takes longer to get through so that we return to normal programming, if you like. Because of that 80 movement per hour cap there at least are less flights scheduled. If you had more flights scheduled that couldn’t operate, because anyone who uses Sydney Airport knows that quite often, at any time during the peak, when we’re operating at 80 movements an hour there are delays in getting access to the gate, there are delays in planes pushing back from the gate that are taking off, and that leads to a delay during peak hour that takes a while to correct itself. And because four out of every 10 flights go through Kingsford Smith Airport at some time during the day across the Australian passenger network, then it has an impact right around the country.

This is an example of why the cap at Sydney Airport is necessary, not the opposite, and the people saying that know that that’s the case. This is just them playing politics, and pretending somehow that you can get more out of Sydney Airport than is possible. The truth is that Sydney Airport is half the size, and a third the size of Brisbane and Melbourne Airport in landmass. That’s the big restriction at the airport.

JOURNALIST: There are suggestions that this is to do with a system upgrade, that there was a glitch. Do you think this was preventable?

ALBANESE: I’m not going to comment without proper knowledge and a proper briefing on technology. I don’t believe in playing politics with issues like this. I hope the Government and the Minister investigate why this occurred, and certainly we’ll be seeking, as the Opposition, a briefing on why this has occurred.

JOURNALIST: So do you think there should be a formal investigation?

ALBANESE: When an incident like this happens, it should be investigated. The Minister should inform himself over whether this could have been avoided as the result of a technological problem it would appear occurred today. The previous issue was one of wind. We can’t always control the weather. That’s the fact of the matter and sometimes these things do happen with airports, not just Sydney, but around Australia and indeed around the world.

JOURNALIST: Do you think there should have been a back-up system?

ALBANESE: Look I’m not going to comment on the technical issues without getting a proper briefing. I don’t seek to play politics with these issues, what I seek is to ensure that the airport operates efficiently. The fact is that Sydney Airport is at capacity for most of the day. The peaks have increased over a period of time. That pressure is there, which is why the Second Sydney Airport, which will be Western Sydney’s first airport, is an important piece of infrastructure, and one that enjoys bipartisan support.

The Government should be getting on with the business of building that second airport, including the earth moving works which I don’t understand why they aren’t under way right now. Thank you.

Sep 22, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subject: Marriage equality.

LISA WILKINSON: Welcome back to the show. There’s been a shocking turn of events overnight in the same sex marriage debate – Tony Abbott head-butted by a Yes supporter as he left a meeting in Hobart. The former Prime Minister was left with a swollen lip and now police are hunting his attacker. For more I’m joined now by Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne, coming to us from Adelaide this morning, and Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese. Good morning to both of you

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Lisa.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

WILKINSON: Christopher, you weren’t in Hobart yesterday were you?

PYNE: No Lisa, that isn’t even funny.

WILKINSON: Well here’s the truth, whatever side you’re on in this debate, this is truly shocking.

PYNE: Absolutely, and people shouldn’t be physically attacked for having a different view about marriage equality, nor should they be attacked at the football for barracking for a different football team to the person sitting next to them. It’s an unAustralian thing to do, and I hope that Tony’s okay. I’m sure he will be. But it’s a nasty shock and it should be condemned, obviously condemned.

WILKINSON: Anthony, it has turned really nasty.

ALBANESE: Well there’s absolutely no place for violence or intimidation in Australian politics. We pride ourselves on being able to have respectful debate. One of the issues though, that I think has got to be said, is that in this city, there were people taken and bashed because of their sexuality. For a long period of time that was very common. We have made significant advances in treating people with respect regardless of their sexuality. We need to be tolerant in how we deal with this debate, but I am, every time people speak about vilification, in my lifetime, people who I know, suffered serious violence because they happened to be gay.

WILKINSON: So here’s the thing, how do we rein in the anger and get back to having a reasoned discussion on a very important issue, Christopher?

PYNE: Well Lisa, people need to focus on the truth, and the truth is that this is a question about whether you think that two people who love each other should be able to get married to each other if they choose to do so. In this debate there’s been far too many red herrings being raised about things like the curriculum in schools, gender fluidity, religious freedom. These aren’t the issues.  Now, the people who are arguing for the No campaign, they should argue why traditional marriage should remain as it is, rather than focusing on the issues that have nothing to do at all with the question people are being asked, and then we can have a very clear and reasoned debate about whether people think that two people of the same sex should be able to marry in the same way that you have, Anthony has, and I have.

WILKINSON: Well you’ve just named all of the things that Tony Abbott has got a problem with. This is all happening against a backdrop of …

ALBANESE: But the question is Lisa, Christopher’s right. He doesn’t really have a problem with them. He raises them because they’re not debating the real issue that’s before the Australian people. That is a very simple issue. And I saw Mr Howard talking to Channel Nine last night.

WILKINSON: That’s right. In fact let’s have a look at that. A former Prime Minister of the Liberal persuasion, John Howard, weighed in on the debate last night, accusing the Government of being vague and not giving enough detail. Nine’s new political editor, Chris Uhlmann, sat down with Mr Howard. Here’s what he had to say.

JOHN HOWARD: I’m not questioning the Prime Minister’s motives. I obviously disagree with him quite fundamentally on the substance of this issue, but I do think the public is entitled to have more detail. Let me give you an example. When my government was introducing the Goods and Services Tax, we didn’t just say to the public, oh we’ll look after that, I can guarantee that you’ll be protected. We actually explained in detail how we were going to do it.

WILKINSON: That was former Prime Minister John Howard last night. Albo, I’m going to give you the last word, does he have a good point there? That there are certain things about this legislation that should be clarified that may change people’s idea on whether they want to vote yes or no?

ALBANESE: Well I did see the interview. I hope Chris Uhlmann gets tougher in future interviews on Channel Nine, because he didn’t ask the obvious question. The GST, John Howard said there would never, ever be one. What we have here is a great level of consultation. We have a draft bill, drafted by Senator Smith, that is the product of extensive public hearings through a Senate committee process, a unanimous report (it doesn’t happen very often) that would deal with all of the issues of religious freedom, it’s there for all to see.

WILKINSON: And yet people still feel confused, but unfortunately we’ve run out of time Albo.

ALBANESE: Well not many people follow Senate committee processes but it’s been done, and former Prime Minister Howard would know full well that there’s a draft bill out there for all to see that he can examine, as can others. But this is about one issue.

WILKINSON: It clearly hasn’t been properly communicated; we’re going to have to leave it there. Albo, Christopher, have a great weekend.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

PYNE: Go Crows! Go the Crows! Check out my tie!

ALBANESE: Good luck Christopher.

 

Sep 20, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: Energy, asylum seekers; marriage equality. 

HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese good morning to you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

HOST: Now my understanding guys, is that the Newspoll people are going to be in the field this weekend gauging voter sentiment. Always something that is watched closely by those in politics. And starting with you Chris Pyne like clockwork it looks like Tony Abbott has fired another shot across Malcolm Turnbull’s bows by promising to cross the floor of Parliament to vote against any attempt to legislate a Clean Energy Target.

PYNE: Well David, what the public want us to do is deliver reliable, affordable energy prices, which also manage to reduce carbon emissions. And that’s exactly what the Turnbull Government is doing in a pragmatic, all-of-the-above approach; supporting solar, solar thermal, wind power, pumped hydro, coal-fired power stations to keep them open because that’s what the public want us to do. We’re not going to take an ideological approach to that and we will announce our policy towards a Clean Energy Target as that becomes available and that’s what Josh Frydenberg is working on.

HOST: What do you think Tony Abbott is up to though because it does look like to me very much like a rerun of the same leadership-based tactics that he used to knock off Malcolm Turnbull the first time, back in 2009.

PYNE: Well look I don’t think the public are interested in politicians’ pronouncements about this or about that. I think what they’re interested in is some outcomes. That is what the Government has been delivering, whether it’s media law, whether it’s industrial relations …

HOST: Should Tony Abbott pull his head in?

PYNE: I’m not going to be a commentator on my colleagues. They have to paddle their own canoe, as they say. What I’m trying to do is be part of a Government that’s …

HOST: Be careful talking about canoes in this town. It hasn’t gone well in the past.

PYNE: Well, that was a long time ago. I’ve moved on.

HOST: So has the former Defence Minister. Hey, to you Albo; can you imagine a scenario whereby Labor is prepared to take a bipartisan position on a Clean Energy Target if Malcolm Turnbull comes up with one that’s deemed to be satisfactory by the ALP?

ALBANESE: Well we’ve clearly said that we would be prepared to do that and what’s more – call me old fashioned, how about we listen to the plan that’s been come up with by the Chief Scientist, rather than by the politicians. The Chief Scientist, Professor Finkel, looked at these issues, came up with a plan. It wasn’t our ideal plan, a Clean Energy Target. Our ideal plan was an Emissions Intensity Scheme that everyone from the energy sector says would actually be the best system to reduce prices. But this would be better than nothing because it would provide that certainty. One thing that we do know, regardless of where people are coming from, unless they have that certainty you won’t get the investment and therefore you won’t get the downward pressure on prices.

HOST: Chris Pyne, to some news that’s broken this morning; the Government is set to notify the first group of refugees on Manus and Nauru that they are to be resettled in the United States. Does the Government have clarity yet on how many of those refugees the United States has agreed to take?

PYNE: Well the good news is that for at least 50 asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, they will be heading to the United States very soon. There’s a process that’s been gone through. We hope it will be the majority of people, at least on both of those places, and we are fixing the mess that Labor created through having loose borders and I think it’s a great achievement for Peter Dutton and Malcolm Turnbull who kept the deal with Donald Trump in place, that he had made with President Obama, and it’s good news for the asylum seekers who will be moving off Nauru and Manus Island. The sooner we can get them all off the better. We have no more detention centres being opened. We have all the children now out of detention. We’re in fact closing detention centres. We’ve stopped the boats. It is a signature tune of the Government that we’ve been able to get this, what was an open border policy under Labor under control.

HOST: Anthony Albanese do you accept that this is preferable deal to ones we have seen in the past when it comes to resettlement of those on Manus and Nauru? It is going to a first world country, one that is a signatory to human rights conventions. Is this a good result?

ALBANESE: Well we support this outcome and we’ve been calling for people who are on Manus and Nauru to be settled. There will come a time, hopefully soon, where Christopher will have to stop saying, you know talking about the former Labor Government. The fact is these people have been left there for far too long and they do need to be settled. It is in their interests obviously as individuals or as families, but it is it is also in Australia’s interests given the responsibility that we have.

HOST: Back to you Chris Pyne,  do you support – on the question of the same-sex marriage postal vote survey – do you support the call that was made by one of your cabinet colleagues, Peter Dutton, who is an advocate for a no vote, that if this does not get up, if a majority of Australians respond that they are not in favour of gay marriage, that the Parliament should then abandon looking at it for ever more?

PYNE: There’s no such thing as for ever more in politics or in life but I think the reality is if a yes vote is not achieved in the postal plebiscite then the momentum for change will go out. And as a consequence it is critically important that people focus on the one thing that this ballot is about and that is whether two people who love each other should be able to get married to each other if they choose to do so. That is the only question that people are being asked on the ballot paper and every other extraneous issue, every other red herring being thrown up by the no campaign – I’ve seen some of their television ads which are quite clearly misleading people – this is not a vote about curriculums in schools, it’s not a vote about freedom of speech, it’s a vote about whether you think two people who love each other should be allowed to get married and therefore people should vote yes. If we vote yes then we can have marriage equality by the end of the year.

HOST: What’s your reading of the way the campaign is tracking Albo? You are obviously red hot in favour of the yes vote but do you think that the no forces are succeeding somewhat in getting some of these other issues – freedom of speech, religious freedom and so forth – on to the agenda?

ALBANESE: Well I think what people will think for themselves is why is it that the no campaign aren’t prepared to actually argue the merit on what is before the Australian people, which was just eloquently outlined by Christopher then. The one question that is before the Australian people – whether marriage will be available to two people who love each other, who want to commit in front of family and friends and that’s the only thing that is before the Australian people. All these other issues, I certainly hope will make people think well, maybe they are not prepared to argue the case. And there is a case for people who have a religious conviction that marriage isn’t about the Government, the state; it’s an institution which is ordained by God, it’s a sacred institution that is just between a man and a woman. If you believe that and I respect that, then that is the case that should be argued. But the truth is that that is very much a minority position in Australian society. The key here is are people going to get out there and vote. Will people when they receive their ballot papers put them in the post box rather than put it aside for tomorrow, which becomes next week, becomes next month and then they don’t vote? So they key here is for people to get out and vote. Peter Dutton has done the yes case a service by pointing out that this is a critical point. It is the point in which we can get this done this year. But I tell you what, the issue won’t go away. I had someone say to me yesterday that they voted yes because they thought that was the only way they could stop talking about his issue.

HOST: It would It would be nice to talk about something else for a change, that’s for sure. It’s been going on and on for several months. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, always great to catch up with you for Two Tribes. We will do it all again next week.

Sep 15, 2017

Transcript of television interview – ABC Lateline

Subjects; Energy, renewables, marriage equality 

MATT WORDSWORTH, PRESENTER: It’s been a week of highs and lows for the Federal Government, starting with the ongoing stoush over Australia’s energy future.

Malcolm Turnbull’s quest to convince AGL chief, Andy Vesey, to keep the Liddell power station open beyond 2022 has yet to yield a positive result, but the Government did have one significant win – after two years of wrangling, the Coalition’s media reforms passed the Senate, but not without compromise.

In exchange for the support of Nick Xenophon and One Nation’s support, the Government has agreed to a series of concessions, including a one-off $60 million fund to support small publishers and journalism cadetships.

To discuss the week in politics I was joined earlier by Industry Minister, Arthur Sinodinos and Shadow Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese for our late debate. Gentlemen, thanks for joining us.

Minister, if I could start with you. Firstly reports today that you’ve cut jobs at the CSIRO including in the lab that helped invent wi-fi. Why?

ARTHUR SINODINOS, INDUSTRY MINISTER: Let’s be very clear here. I haven’t cut any jobs. CSIRO are reducing positions in some areas and increasing positions in others. So, over the next couple of years they’ll be increasing positions by about 240 or so. So some, yes, there are re-allocations that go on over time. And this happens in any organisation.

WORDSWORTH: So when you say reallocations, are you saying an overall loss of positions?

SINODINOS: No, no.

WORDSWORTH: Because the staff association says one in five jobs have been cut at the CSIRO since the Coalition took power in 2013.

SINODINOS: Since the last budget, the forward estimates show an increase in the budget for CSIRO which will translate to an increase in employment.

What’s happened here is CSIRO are cutting jobs in some areas and increasing jobs in others. So your attention’s been drawn to some cuts in a number of areas. Those people will also be given the opportunity through the process to be redeployed but also we are increasing jobs in other parts of CSIRO.

This is something that happens over time. This is very much a management decision and a board decision. We don’t run CSIRO on a day-to-day basis and the reason for that is, we’re not scientists, we are not people who are versed in the working out the trade-offs between the various disciplines within the CSIRO. That’s their job and I stand behind their decisions.

WORDSWORTH: Anthony Albanese, yes, I’ll bring you in here because what the staff association, the staff will want to hear is Labor will restore all the positions that the Coalition has cut since 2013.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW INFRASTRUCTURE MINISTER: Well, the only innovation that’s occurred under this so-called Innovation Prime Minister is euphemisms for job cuts.

Today we’ve heard redeployment, reallocation. This is a Government that doesn’t respect science. They’ve attacked science when it comes to climate change because of the conflict that there’s there between Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott and it really is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

To cut jobs at the CSIRO and in general in the science sector when that’s so important for Australia’s future economic development.

WORDSWORTH: But do you have a policy to restore any of these lost jobs at the CSIRO?

ALBANESE: We’ll announce our policies at appropriate times, not on the Lateline on the basis of a question and our Shadow Minister does that. But what Labor will do is consistent with what we did in Government, which is to respect science, which is to respect and support the CSIRO.

SINODINOS: Matt, we are investing in science in a very big way – Square Kilometre Array, the Australian Synchrotron, we’ve put half a billion into that.

I announced in the budget a $120 million commitment to the European Southern Observatory. There’s all these big science that we are actually funding over time.

ALBANESE: But you’ve gutted the CSIRO since 2013.

SINODINOS: And over the next four years CSIRO is going to be bigger and stronger.

WORDSWORTH: It’s a landmark institution though, Minister, to lose jobs. Does that worry you, taking away overall.

SINODINOS: Jobs will increase over time, over the next two years.

WORDSWORTH: Will they be what they were when you started in 2013?

SINODINOS: Well, I can’t go back to 2013. I go back to the National Innovation and Science Agenda, 2015. We put an extra $1.1 billion into national innovation and science and we will continue, where possible, to keep injecting into big science in particular more money, which provides a basis for global collaboration.

ALBANESE: What this Government consistently does is have a strategy of taking $100 away, giving $50 of it back and saying, “Please say thank you for this contribution.”

This is a Government that has cut the CSIRO, that has cut a number of vital institutions when it comes to future governance and we as a nation, if in the Asian century we’re going to compete, we need to compete on the basis of how smart we are and how innovative we are and we’re not seeing that this from this Government.

This is a Government that believes that NBN technology should be copper-based rather than fibre-based. It’s a Government that hasn’t taken serious action on climate change and it’s a Government that’s lost its way.

WORDSWORTH: Can I just move only to the Clean Energy Target. It has taken up a lot of conversation this week. Tony Abbott said on radio yesterday, he welcomes signs that we’re moving away from a clean energy target to a reliable energy target.

Arthur Sinodinos, what does that mean? What shift are we seeing within the Government?

SINODINOS: Well, what’s happening within the Government is a lot more work by both the Prime Minister and Josh Frydenberg on a plan for transitioning the economy as we go through this need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while improving the security and reliability of the system.

Malcolm Turnbull’s the first Prime Minister to commit to a plan and after he got the report from the Energy Market Operator around dispatchability of power, the power that has to be available 24/7, just very recently, he’s now putting together a plan which ensures we have base load to go through while we transition to more renewables on the system but with this caveat, that those renewables have to have backup and storage.

Look, we’re not going to put Australia’s security and reliability at risk by just having a headline policy of 50 per cent RET and whatever else happens, happens.

WORDSWORTH: Well, I guess the take out message here is the Paris Agreement target.

SINODINOS: Sure.

WORDSWORTH: 26 to 28 per cent reduction of our 2005 emissions by 2030.

SINODINOS: Yes.

WORDSWORTH: So can you guarantee that whatever form the Clean Energy Target takes, that it honours that Target?

SINODINOS: I can guarantee that whatever we do in this area will be consistent with our obligations because we’re not walking away from Paris. We made those agreements in good faith.

We’re not walking away from it but Australians are saying they want security and reliability. They want downward pressure on affordability. In other words, affordability to be improved by prices being lower where possible. We have to meet that trifecta.

WORDSWORTH: Anthony Albanese, I want to ask you this because when this new modelled Clean Energy Target or Reliable Energy Target comes out, it looks like it’s going to include some form of coal. Would Labor accept a Clean Energy Target if it included coal, if it helps us meet that Paris Agreement target?

ALBANESE: Well, this is now two years since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister to the day and what we have seen is that Malcolm Turnbull has increasingly become Tony Abbott when it comes to policy on climate change. We’ve seen a retreat.

Now, Labor supported an Emissions Intensity Scheme as the best way going forward. But in order to get certainty, the key thing that we need here is certainty, in order to get that, we were prepared to cop the Clean Energy Target and to be cooperative when Professor Finkel brought down his review.
 
WORDSWORTH: The purpose of that Clean Energy Target was to hit that Paris Agreement target. That was the mechanism to get there. So if this mechanism does the same thing will you support it?

ALBANESE: What’s the basis for this mechanism? Is it Mr Finkel, the Chief Scientist or is it Tony Abbott? That’s the problem here is that no longer are we trying to appease the science and, therefore, protect the planet and the national economic interest. What we’re doing is just appeasing Tony Abbott.

So we’ll have a look at anything that comes out at the time but the truth is that the Finkel Review had 40 recommendations. The key one has just sat there for month after month, not being adopted and it should have been. That should have been the time in which we moved forward in a bipartisan way.

Labor did our bit by compromising, by saying we’d be prepared to support that rather than the Emissions Intensity Scheme, which everyone knows is actually much more preferable in terms of lowering prices of, and ensuring certainty and reliability. But what we have now is the compromised position being moved away from by the Government itself.

WORDSWORTH: Well, just on that point, Arthur Sinodinos, there’s been reports that there is a revolt going on in the backbench by pro-coal MPs, six to 10 willing to cross the floor. Are you hearing this? Is this happening?

SINODINOS: Well, I see it in the papers. I don’t have colleagues ringing me up and saying “look, we’re about to revolt on this” but people are making their views very clear. If we can’t take the community with us on system reliability and affordability of power, we won’t be able to keep them on greenhouse gas emissions being reduced.

This is the point and what’s happened is with the clean energy target, that posited gas as the transition fuel. Now gas has been constrained by what’s happened with gas exports, increasingly diverting from the domestic market and also state governments like Victoria in particular, moratoria on exploration development.

If we want gas to be the peaking fuel, if we want gas to be the transition fuel, then we would be seriously considering taking all those controls off and doing what we’re doing now on top of that, which is the gas security mechanism and other things.

But we have to be able to assure Australians that emissions intensive trade exposed sectors, the ones my portfolio represents, the cement people, the steel makers, the aluminium smelters, that they have some sort of future as we transition because the whole import of what Labor and the Greens say is often to indicate that somehow this can be a costless transition and all these industry effects can somehow be just papered over or glossed over. They’re real and we’re working on a plan to keep things going while we take people with us.

ALBANESE: But Matt, just a few weeks ago I visited north-west Queensland, Hughenden and Kidston, it was covered by Lateline, with Bob Katter. And what we saw there in those two projects, Kidston taking an old gold mine, putting at the moment stage 1 of the solar project there. It’s 537,000 solar panels connected up, providing base load by using hydro storage through the old gold mine effectively at Kennedy.

Wind, solar as well there, together that project, a million homes will be powered through renewable energy in north-west Queensland. It’s like the Government’s just left behind all of this. The one thing that the people investing, private sector capital in that project, say, is they want certainty and this Government’s just incapable, it seems, of providing it.

I hope they do get their act together and Labor is prepared to be constructive but for goodness sake, they keep changing their mind every week.

WORDS WORTH: Well, yes industry is craving certainty, you’re right on that point. Can I just switch to the same-sex postal survey. John Howard says we should be talking about…

ALBANESE: You should be allowed to say marriage equality, Matt. It’s okay.

WORDSWORTH: Well, it’s a postal survey, same-sex marriage, you know. Religious protections are what John Howard, the former prime minister, is quite exercised about and he says, “Before we vote we should be hearing what religious protections would be in place.”

And this is how Malcolm Turnbull responded when he was asked about it this morning.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, PRIME MINISTER: I can say to Mr Howard and to all Australians that if there is a majority yes vote in the postal survey, and I encourage Australians to vote yes, Lucy and I will be voting yes, if there is a majority yes vote, religious freedoms will be protected. There is consensus across the Parliament to do that.

WORDSWORTH: Arthur Sinodinos, what are these protections?

SINODINOS: Well, the protections would be these and George Brandis put together a bill, an exposure draft of a bill, some time back to give people bit of a feel for what this would be and it would essentially protect the capacity of religious institutions to continue to behave according to their own values and beliefs.

WORDSWORTH: So the whole baker thing, that’s not included – doesn’t want to sell the cake to a gay couple.

SINODINOS: There was some recognition of situations like that, but look, the whole point is that these would be further teased out.

If for example we have a yes vote in the postal survey, there would be a capacity to have a private members’ bill which would tease these out, the Parliament would have a capacity to debate these and all parts of the Parliament, the crossbench, the Labor Party, whatever, would have the opportunity to contribute to that.

WORDSWORTH: So John Howard shouldn’t be worried?

SINODINOS: Well, look, I think John Howard is raising a valid point, which is there are these sorts of concerns in the minds of some people who want to vote no.

Now I’m not sure whether even if you fully satisfied those concerns, some people would just continue to vote no anyway. My point is there’ll be ample time afterwards to look at this, after we’ve had this particular vote. This is not the way we started out. We wanted to have a proper plebiscite. Ideally it would have been good to have had a situation where people had had a bill before them that they were voting on at a plebiscite, even better.

But we didn’t have the chance to put that to the Australian people. So we’re doing this in the best way we can, consistent with our election commitment and then we can follow this issue up afterwards.

WORDSWORTH: Anthony Albanese, just on that comment from Malcolm Turnbull, he said there was consensus across the Parliament. So is that right, you’re on board?

ALBANESE: There is. I’m a strong supporter of religious liberty but I also want to say that the proponents of the no case need to actually argue it if they have one and there is a case that they can make, one that I respect in terms of their religious views.

If marriage really has nothing to do with the state, if it’s a sacred institution from God, then I respect that some people have that view and they should argue that.

What they shouldn’t do is argue things that have nothing to do with this voluntary postal survey. This is about one thing and one thing only – whether people who happen to be of the same sex, who are in love with someone and want to commit to that person for life in front of their friends and family have the opportunity to so just like I did and just like Arthur did with our respective wives.

And what, what we’re seeing here, I think, is a whole lot of issues that have nothing to do with this survey, brought into it. The truth is that issues like cakes or what have you, that’s covered by anti-discrimination right now. Families are diverse right now.

What this is about is simply whether marriage equality exists or not and I believe a whole lot of Australians will be filling in their ballot papers as we speak. They would have got them in the post today or Monday early next week. I encourage people to vote and I’m very hopeful and indeed confident that they will vote yes.

WORDSWORTH: Arthur Sinodinos, have you got your ballot in the mail yet?

SINODINOS: Um, I …

WORDSWORTH: Haven’t been home yet, I suppose, maybe.

SINODINOS: I’ll check tonight. The only other point I’d make about this whole debate is there have been some debates around political correctness and all the rest of it but this really is about the particular question and then we can answer and deal with the other issues.

The only other point I make is, this is a complex society. Of course we have to balance all sorts of rights. No-one is saying that one right has to completely overtake another but, you know, ultimately this is about treating others as you would have them treat you.

WORDSWORTH: Just on that point of the religious protections, do you know or fear that any MPs might use the lack of a debate about religious protections now after the fact to delay or frustrate the result of the postal survey?

SINODINOS: I think someone who is determined for whatever reason to be against same-sex marriage will do whatever they believe is right to advance their objective and behave accordingly.

WORDSWORTH: Would Tony Abbott honour the…

SINODINOS: Look, I have no doubt that Tony on his word, as indicated, he would honour the outcome of this because he’s one of the originators of the plebiscite concept and he made it clear that we honour the people’s choice.

WORDSWORTH: Alright, well, Arthur Sinodinos and Anthony Albanese, thank you so much for your time.

SINODINOS: Thank you.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

 

Sep 15, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects; John Howard, marriage equality, banking Royal Commission, energy prices, media reform 

KARL STEFANOVIC: Welcome to the show again. Malcolm Turnbull is still copping plenty of flack over the postal vote on same sex marriage. The latest attack is coming from former PM, John Howard.

Defence Industry Minister, Christopher Pyne, and Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese join us now, good morning guys.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

STEFANOVIC: To you Christopher, first up. John Howard has ramped up his attack on Malcolm Turnbull. He’s being called the great fraud of the same sex marriage debate. An attack by John Howard. It can be lethal.

PYNE: Well Karl, John Howard’s allowed to campaign as much as anybody else is. He has an opinion. Whether his opinion carries the day is a matter for the Australian public, it’s not a question of John Howard vs Malcolm Turnbull, or anybody else quite frankly. It’s whether people believe that two people who love each other should be able to get married.

STEFANOVIC: It’s a pretty strong attack though; he says how will you protect parental rights, freedom of speech and religious freedom. As he contends, have you washed your hands of responsibility in those matters?

PYNE: Well of course not, and that’s why if there’s a yes vote in the postal plebiscite, and I hope there will be because I think that two people who love each other should be able to get married to each other. Then we will have a bill that will protect the rights of churches not to marry people they don’t want to marry, or anybody else for that matter. Of course we can do that, it’s not beyond the Parliament. We’ve done it many, many times before. That’s how we make laws; we will protect the freedom of speech of people, and of course the rights of people to choose whether they do, or don’t marry couples.

ALBANESE: Well this is a Pyne AND Albo issue, not versus. We’re together on this, as are most Australians. And what’s interesting is that the opponents of marriage equality are raising every issue except for the only one that’s before the Australian people. Whether two people who love each other can give that commitment in front of friends and family, that is all this is about. I’d encourage people who have their ballot papers, who have their survey, to vote today.

STEFANOVIC: Yep, agree with you, yes from me as well. Okay Albo, there are reports this morning that all four of the big banks, plus mid-tier banks, have been used by illegal money laundering syndicates. That wouldn’t be a surprise to you?

ALBANESE: Another argument for a Royal Commission. We need a Banking Royal Commission and I don’t know why the Government is resisting this. It will happen. Let’s get on with it.

STEFANOVIC: Why was that funny Chris?

PYNE: Because if there was a Royal Commission into money laundering by the Mafia through the banks, it would take years and years and years to report and to do anything, the last thing we need is a Royal Commission. We just need the police and the officials who look after fraud to do their job, and I’m sure that’s what they’re going to do. It would be a fiasco. A complete waste of time.

STEFANOVIC: Well they already know some banks are being fleeced.

PYNE: Good, well then the police should prosecute those people who are doing the wrong thing. That’s their job. The Royal Commission’s not going to get to the bottom of that.

ALBANESE: I don’t know why the Government’s determined to defend the banks; people know that we need a Royal Commission. Let’s get to the bottom of this, that’s in the interest frankly of the banks and the whole financial sector as well.

PYNE: Let’s do nothing for five years, Anthony, that’s your position.

STEFANOVIC: Well by the way, Chris’s point on timeframes it would take a long time.

ALBANESE: Oh that’s a nonsense, the evidence before a Royal Commission comes out as the Royal Commission is taking place and you can have Government legislation and action while the Royal Commission is happening.

PYNE: We’re getting on with it Anthony, Labor wants to talk about it.

STEFANOVIC: Albo, Bill Shorten came under fire accused of lying about energy prices. Do you stand by his words? Josh Frydenberg claims that prices have actually decreased.

ALBANESE: Well, let the public out there watching this show judge whether they think prices have decreased or increased. They all know that prices have increased under this Government’s watch. They said they’d fall, they’ve gone up. It just shows the Government’s out of touch.

STEFANOVIC: Was Bill Shorten lying?

ALBANESE: Not at all, the fact is he’s in touch with the Australian people more than the government is.

PYNE: He’s just making things up, Anthony. He made it up. We all know that prices have gone up, we all pay electricity bills, no one said they didn’t.

ALBANESE: Well why did Josh Frydenberg say that prices in Sydney had gone up by one dollar. Everyone watching this in Sydney knows that’s not the case.

PYNE: Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday that we all know that electricity prices have gone up. Bill tried another Mediscare campaign two days ago…

ALBANESE: That’s a nonsense.

PYNE: He made up the figures, and he got caught again, because he can’t be trusted. He’s shifty.

ALBANESE: He knows that prices haven’t gone up.

STEFANOVIC: Finally, a big victory this week for significant media reforms, over a decade passing in Parliament. Gee, it’s taken some time. Chris, how do we know that there’s not going to be too much power in the hands of the few, how can you safeguard that?

PYNE: Well that’s another big win for the Government; we are getting on with our agenda. Now media law reform, we have quite a list now over the last twelve months of significant achievements because we’re working with the Senate. These media reforms will give our Australian businesses the chance to compete with the big things like the Google, and others, who’ve been coming into our market.

STEFANOVIC: How good’s the Google.

ALBANESE: The Google.

PYNE: I love the Google, I’m big on the Google, I quite like the Intertube as well.

STEFANOVIC: I don’t even need to go there.

ALBANESE: Malcolm Turnbull invented the Interweb, actually, according to this mob.

STEFANOVIC: You guys are so onto it. Thank you guys, appreciate your time.

PYNE: Technology is our thing.

ALBANESE: They’re all over this new stuff.

 

Sep 13, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa, Two Tribes segment

Subjects: Energy policy.

HOST: Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese on the line. Good morning to you both.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.

HOST: Now guys, there’s about a dozen coal-fired power stations in Australia that are facing a pretty uncertain future, which is obviously feeding into insecurity about the reliability of our power supply, not to forget the cost component as well.

Starting with you, Chris Pyne. Is the Government’s inability to resolve the question of a clean energy target playing into the fears for the future of these stations?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well no. It’s not. There were 50 recommendations in the Finkel Review. We’ve adopted 49 of them and we’re doing more work on the 50th, which is the Clean Energy Target so that is not making the slightest impact.

What the Government has done however is making an impact. Gas prices are coming down and that is starting to flow through to prices and what we have is a pragmatic, all-of-the-above approach. So yes, obviously we want more wind and more solar power like the solar thermal station at Port Augusta that we are backing but, at the same time, we need more storage, more pumped hydro like the Snowy Hydro 2.0, that we are behind. And of course we want to keep the coal-fired power stations open to provide baseload power until those renewables are fully on stream and able to provide baseload power. Whereas Labor, on the other hand, they want to close the coal fired power stations, which is what we have seen in South Australia with Northern Power, and that means higher prices and unreliable supply.

HOST: Is there a bit of a weird position now though, where you’ve got AGL, the biggest power company in Australia, basically declaring that coal is dead and the Government is effectively saying to AGL; hang on, you can’t do that, we’ve got to keep this Hunter Valley Plant up and running. Does that raise the possibility that the Government itself might actually have to step in with money to keep it afloat?

PYNE: Well look AGL doesn’t really mind if Liddell closes because it forces up the price of electricity and that means they make more profit. So let’s not sort of hold AGL up as some kind of knight in shining armour and they are not getting out of coal until 2050. So there’s a lot of government relations and PR going into AGL’s public statements.

The truth is Liddell needs to be kept open for at least another five years, in order to provide that thousand megawatts of power, otherwise we’ll have a more unreliable supply and higher prices and that is why the Government is pragmatically saying; sure we will be transitioning out of coal over a period of time, but we still need to have baseload power.

That is the difference between us and Labor who have rushed headlong into this wind and solar power in South Australia, and closed the Northern Power Coal Station and that’s why we have the highest prices and the most unreliable supply in the developed world.

HOST: Albo is the position of Labor simply that you want us out of coal as soon as possible?

ALBANESE: No it’s not. What we need is certainty; we need certainty through a clean energy target. Coal will continue to play a role as part of the energy mix for the foreseeable future. But as Christopher just acknowledged, the future is in renewables, it’s in gas, it’s in battery storage, it’s in hydro. And what we have really is just childish statements from a Government that has stopped governing.

The sort of statements that Labor’s closing Liddell. It is Coalition governments that have privatised the electricity networks. These are private companies that are making decisions based upon the market. If you want to get more investment in the market you need certainty, and that’s what the Government isn’t doing by walking away from the clean energy target.

Now we read in the paper that after months of prevarication, after a very clear recommendation from Finkel from a report that was commissioned by the Government for the Government, it’s walking away from the key recommendation because when Tony Abbott says boo they all hide under the desk.

PYNE: What a load of rubbish, I mean, you know Labor has run out of arguments when they start reaching back to privatisation of the 1980s.

ALBANESE: But it’s a market. It’s a market Christopher. Labor isn’t closing Liddell, Labor is in Opposition in NSW and federally and you come up with the childish statement.

PYNE: What about Northern Power in South Australia…

ALBANESE: Well have a look at…

PYNE: Labor was cheering when Northern Power closed.

ALBANESE: The market, the private company…

PYNE: Rubbish. Northern Power said that one of the reasons they closed was because they couldn’t compete with wind and solar.

ALBANESE: When it comes to Liddell, Liddell is at the end of its life. That’s what AGL are saying, that’s what all the experts are saying. AGL actually do have a plan for transition. They have a plan to put energy back into the grid; they have been working on that…

PYNE: Well they haven’t publicised this plan.

ALBANESE: It’s called a private company that has fiduciary obligations to the board and they’ve been working it through with certainty, with a very clear date for when closure will happen in 2022.

HOST: Albo, I want to jump in. Albo, do you regard South Australia as an example of the clean energy system working well?

ALBANESE: Well certainly there have been issues, but what we have seen is that South Australia is leading the world on areas like the largest battery, that will occur. There were incidents last year regarding the extreme weather event that blew over the transmission towers. That can’t be the blame of the South Australian Government. That was a weather event…

PYNE: You need to come to South Australia.

ALBANESE: And what we saw from the Coalition Government, and we’re still seeing it federally, is these childish statements of refusing to act like adults and actually put in place the certainty that should be there. When Tony Abbott ran for office we were told that everyone’s power bills would come down by $550. In NSW over that time…

PYNE: They did.

ALBANESE: They have increased by almost $1000.

PYNE: I’m sorry, Labor asked this question in Question Time yesterday and…

ALBANESE: By almost $1000.

PYNE: Excuse me, the Prime Minster was able to stand up and point out that the ACCC confirmed, that when we scrapped your Carbon Tax, another one of your brilliant ideas, prices fell by over $550. It was the highest drop in prices in recorded (inaudible).

HOST: Just finally…

ALBANESE: It shows how far out of touch you are if you’re suggesting that power prices…

PYNE: You’re so out of touch.

HOST: Gentlemen. Sorry guys. I want to wrap it up by putting it back to you Chris Pyne. We all know what Malcolm Turnbull’s position was back in 2009 when he was the leader of the Liberal Party.
He believed that the Government did need to put a price on Carbon to provide certainty for the industry. Is it not the case now that because of internal politics he is spooked about doing anything that even vaguely resembles that?

PYNE: Absolutely not. What we are focused on is trying to get downward pressure on prices and more reliable energy, and that means battery storage, it means pumped hydro, it means having a pragmatic all of the above approach and it does not mean what Labor did in South Australia. Which was to helter skelter go into wind and solar power without any battery storage and blow up the Northern Power Station.

ALBANESE: It needs certainty.

PYNE: Literally to blow up the chimneys so it could never be commissioned again. They thought that was a great success. Labor thinks that the South Australian power system is a great success. We’ve all described it as an experiment. Mark Butler described it as a hiccup.

ALBANESE: You are in your fifth year and you’ve…

HOST: Thank you gentlemen. All right we’re going to leave it there guys, Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese

Sep 12, 2017

Transcript of television interview – SKY Newsday

Subject: marriage equality.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Today is the first day that the postal survey will start being distributed now in the wake of the High Court case from last week. Any messages that you have at this point in time that you have for Australians who might be receiving this in the next couple of days?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well the first thing would be to participate in this, what is a voluntary postal survey. It’s not the way that we would have gone about it. Labor believes we should have just had a vote of the Parliament and indeed, if the survey is carried, we will of course go back to having a vote of the Parliament because that is the only way that you can change the legislation. But given it’s on, we are in it to win it and this is an opportunity for Australians to send a message to each other and to the world that we are a country that believes in equal rights, we are a country that recognises that all love is equal and that we don’t judge other people’s relationship, we respect the fact that all that is being decided here is whether two people who love each other can express that commitment in front of their family and friends like I had the opportunity to do with my wife and you yourself Peter as well.

VAN ONSELEN: But what will be your view, what will it say about the attitude of Australians towards the political class and political leaders if the no case wins, given the Prime Minister has said vote yes, the President of the Liberal Party has said vote yes, the Opposition Leader has said vote yes, the Deputy Opposition Leader has said vote yes, former Deputy Prime Minister –  yourself – is saying vote yes – if all  these leading political leaders in this country are saying almost to a person vote yes, but the no vote wins, what does that say?

ALBANESE: Well I think groups that are engaged in civil society as well Peter, the AFL say yes, the National Rugby League say yes, Cricket Australia say yes, my local business association say yes, business leaders are all saying yes as well.

VAN ONSELEN: What does it say if a majority of Australians vote no and I guess what does it also say about Labor if, in the wake of all these people advocating yes, if the no vote succeeds, what does it say if you are committed to just bringing it back before Parliament anyway even if the no vote was able to succeed under such trying circumstances?

ALBANESE: Well I will make three points Peter, quickly. One is that I expect that people will vote yes. That’s what all the opinion polls are saying. The second issue that I will make is that there are a whole lot of people, including members of Parliament on both sides, members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, who voted no last time when we had a vote in the Parliament of course in 2012 and it was defeated by a majority of two to one effectively in the House of Representatives, a whole lot of people who have changed their mind over a period of time, who have said I used to be concerned about this but I have changed my mind and now I support marriage equality. I am yet to meet any colleague here in Parliament or indeed anyone in my electorate or anywhere else for that matter who has said to me I used to support marriage equality and now I don’t, I will be voting no. So history is headed one way on this.

VAN ONSELEN: When did you first advocate marriage equality?

ALBANESE: I have been advocating marriage equality for a very long time and indeed in my first speech to Parliament 21 years ago I advocated the removal of discrimination on the basis of not just sexuality, but gender, religion, ethnicity and a range of other issues as well.

VAN ONSELEN: I assumed that must be the case. Doesn’t it annoy the bejesus out of you all, of these John Come Lately politicians? Now look, if they have genuinely changed their minds, great, welcome aboard. If they have done it for political expedience reasons, I guess great, welcome aboard. It’s better than sticking to a no case if you are a yes advocate. But, you know, it must be frustrating particularly inside the Labor Party, Anthony Albanese. I mean, when you guys were in government you had a chance to do this but didn’t because Kevin Rudd wasn’t in favour of it, Julia Gillard wasn’t in favour of it. There is a whole bunch of other lily-livered Labor people who I reckon if you strapped them to a lie detector test they were in favour of it but they didn’t have the political courage to do what you did decades ago. It must be frustrating.

ALBANESE:  I welcome people coming on board and a number of people have dealt with this over a long period of time. I know Kevin Rudd, for example, talked to people like Father Frank Brennan and other people of faith about whether it was consistent with his spiritual views to support marriage equality and came out with the view that yes, it was. And a number of people have wrestled with their conscience on this and they have changed their mind. It’s a good thing that people are prepared to have an open mind and to think about these issues and I am convinced that the more we talk about these issues the more people will say yes and I think that’s one of the reasons why the no campaign are raising a whole lot of issues that have nothing to do with what is actually in this voluntary postal survey. That’s why they are talking about other issues, be it Safe Schools or other issues that really aren’t relevant to this. This is a very simple issue – do people have a right to participate in the institution of marriage, which surely would strengthen that institution.

VAN ONSELEN: Well we are going to continue this debate in a moment Anthony Albanese with somebody who takes a different view on this to you. We will continuing discussing the implications. We appreciate you time on Newsday as always. Thank you very much.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you Peter. Thanks for having us.

Pages:«1234567...53»

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

Important items

Enrol to vote Parliament of Australia Australian Labor Party Clean Energy Future