Mar 15, 2017

Radio interview – 5AA – Two Tribes segment

Subject: Energy policy. 

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


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will. Good morning David. Good morning Anthony.

HOST: I believe congratulations are in order Penbo.

HOST: They are. Thanks for that. Good on you. Thanks for that guys. Now setting that aside …

HOST: Now you guys can get to grill him today. He tried to move that on very quickly there you notice.

ALBANESE: Is it a boy or a girl?

HOST: Don’t know. We’re not going to find out either.

ALBANESE: Have you got any names picked out?

PYNE: Christopher?

HOST: Christopher? Actually I like the traditional names so I reckon both of your names are good, Christopher and Anthony.

PYNE: Oh that’s very sweet. Congratulations.

ALBANESE: How nice of you.

HOST: I don’t think Albo would work as a name with respect Albo.

ALBANESE: It would work for a pet.

HOST: We’ve already named them. The cavoodles are taken care of. Hey look, just on this power announcement, we had the Premier on just after 7 o’clock this morning. To you Chris Pyne, what is the actual nature of the legal advice that the Commonwealth is seeking at the moment. Does it go to these sorts of override powers that Tom Koutsantonis is looking at getting?

PYNE: Well before I answer that I would also like to congratulate the two of you on your increase in the ratings which I understand is powering up the ladder.

HOST: This is an orgy of self-congratulations.

ALBANESE: I think we’ve paid a role in that.

PYNE: Yes, that’s why I mention it.

HOST: All right.

PYNE: Well, I think Josh Frydenberg has been talking about the issue of legal advice and it goes to whether South Australia can actually leave the national electricity market in the way that they are saying they will. I mean, South Australia signed a legal agreement with the Commonwealth and with all of the other states. Whether they can direct the national market to provide South Australia with power in the way that they are claiming is a moot point and that is what Josh Frydenberg is checking out. But of course the wider issue is that we have a $550 billion admission of failure after 10 years of energy adventurism from the Labor Government which is absolutely shocking for the South Australian taxpayer quite frankly.

HOST: To you Albo, hearing Bill Shorten yesterday holding South Australia up as some kind of model when it comes to energy policy, I reckon a lot of our listeners would have been raising one eyebrow given the political heat that Jay Weatherill has been copping. Does the Shorten Opposition, given how well it is travelling in the polls, need to be taking risks like that, hitching its wagon to Jay Weatherill when it comes to energy.

ALBANESE: Well I tell you what, I am going to stand up for Adelaide and South Australia even if Christopher Pyne won’t. I mean, how outrageous was it that there was energy available through the gas-fired power plant but the National Energy Market regulator, which reports to the federal minister, wouldn’t turn it on? That’s what happened here. It was a failure and Jay Weatherill and Tom Koutsantonis and the South Australian Government are showing the sort of leadership here that frankly Malcolm Turnbull should be showing. We’ve had blackouts in NSW as well. NSW relies more than any other states upon coal-fired electricity and we have had companies as well as residences off the grid and that is a problem, a failure nationally, and the Government federally should stop playing politics with this and work with South Australia as well as with other state governments to find solutions.

HOST: Chris Pyne, how do you reconcile the difficult position the State Liberals are in with the Federal Liberal Party over the releasing of gas supplies in this country?. It’s a State Liberal position not to allow coal seam gas extraction in the south east yet today you’ve got the Prime Minister meeting with the heads of the industry in this country to try and allow domestic supply to meet domestic demand.

PYNE: Well Will, it’s horses for courses. The State Opposition, they have announced a policy that covers the south-east of south-Australia. It doesn’t cover the whole state. It doesn’t cover offshore gas reserves. And what he Federal Government is trying to do of course is to explain to the gas producers, the suppliers – there’s nine significant gas suppliers – that their first priority of course is to guarantee gas here in Australia. And I think Malcolm Turnbull will be having some very firm discussions with them today and I look forward to the outcome. But what it goes to in South Australia, and Anthony was talking before about NSW etcetera, nobody in the country has had the embarrassment that we have had in South Australia. I’m a very proud South Australian – I’m a fifth generation South Australian. That doesn’t mean I have to pretend that the State Labor Government hasn’t made a complete stuff up of energy and electricity in this state where you’ve got businesses having to hire their own generators, the Department of Defence having to build their own diesel generators at Osborne to do our ships and submarines that that I brought to the state.  I mean lots of people have done lots of things for our state and bringing in subs and the frigates has been a big part of that. But the reality is that the State Labor Government has had an experiment in power ….

ALBANESE: Well Labor didn’t privatise the system. The Liberals did that.

PYNE: Nobody (inaudible) even the State Labor Government has given up blaming privatisation.

ALBANESE: The Liberals privatised the network.

PYNE: In 1990. In 1990.

ALBANESE: Yes that’s right and we have circumstances whereby Australia will pretty soon be the world’s largest exporter of gas and yet we’re saying we don’t have enough gas for manufacturing industry in Queensland, New South Wales and other states. I mean, why is it that that’s the case? That defies common sense.

HOST: Hey Albo, can I ask from your perspective on the left of politics, how comfortable are you with what appears to be now the insertion of an intermediate step between the transition from coal to renewables? It seems now the lesson of South Australia is you can’t set a renewable energy target of 50 per cent and simply go from coal providing baseload power to renewables providing that much of the state’s needs; there needs to be an intermediate step and it appears to be gas.

ALBANESE: Well gas will be a part of the system for some time and I think there will be increased use of gas; that’s why an emissions intensity scheme will sort this out. Why is it that you have the energy sector, you have the regulators, you have the economists, you have everyone who looks at it saying this is what we need. And the Federal Government floated it as well of course, with Josh Frydenberg in December, but they ruled it out because of politics. What industry is saying is let’s get the politics out of this and actually talk about solutions, rather than looking for conflict. And this is a Government that is flailing about, got smashed in Western Australia, the Coalition on Saturday, and they are looking for arguments. They’ve forgotten they are the Government and they should be about solutions.

HOST: Although in Western Australia on Saturday the Labor Party ran a million miles from setting a formal renewable energy target because of what’s been happening here in SA, which I guess shows …

ALBANESE: They didn’t run on new coal-powered fire stations, let me tell you.

PYNE: Yes the Labor Party in WA had a policy of a 50 per cent renewable energy target and they abandoned it because of what’s happened in South Australia is we’ve been the national experiment, the Premier’s own word, and the experiment has failed. It cost the South Australian taxpayers $550 million to fix it and the South Australian Labor Government is flailing about and unfortunately we in the national Government are going to have to step in and work with the South Australian Government on an issue that they should be managing themselves.

ALBANESE: You run the national energy market Christopher.

HOST: We’re going to have to leave it there guys. This fight could go on for days, but we will resume it next week. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese; always great to catch up for Two Tribes. Thanks guys.