Subjects: South Australian energy, Chinese extradition treaty; International Record Store Day.
HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese on the program. Good morning to you both.
PYNE: Good morning Will.
ALBANESE: Good morning from Canberra.
HOST: Now chaps not to surprise you but yet again we’re going to talk about the energy situation here in South Australia. There’s a story on the front page of today’s Tiser that for just $25 million the State Government could have apparently helped keep the northern power station going for three years avoiding some of the instability that’s beset the state over the past 12 months. Chris Pyne do you think that would have been money well spent?
PYNE: Of course it would have and the truth is nothing proves more the ideological obsession of the South Australian Labor Party than this story because when Arrium and Nyrstar in Port Pirie and Whyalla were facing difficulties the Labor State Government jumped up and down as though it was the end of the world. When Northern Power, the northern power station run by Alinta was facing closure they did absolutely nothing; lifted not one finger to do anything for them to support baseload power in South Australia. For $25 million, they could have avoided the blackouts we’ve had in the last 12 months and instead they’re now spending $550 million of South Australian taxpayers money that we can’t afford to make up for their mistakes.
HOST: What’s your assessment Albo? Do you think that Labor should have stepped in to save a coal-fired power station, or do you think that coal is a thing of the past and it should have been allowed to die a natural death?
ALBANESE: Well a private company looking for a public subsidy. State Labor didn’t privatise the network; the former Liberal Government did that. And a private company looking for a public handout is something that once it happens there’s another hand out and then they come back for more and then they say if you just give us a bit more money to add to our bottom line we’ll do what you want.
HOST: You mean like the car industry?
ALBANESE: But Christopher who oversaw, basically when Joe Hockey was the Treasurer, said Joe Hockey was pretty keen on telling them to bugger, off was their attitude as a Federal Government. For them to play politics with this; I think you’re listeners are sick of people playing politics about South Australian energy and are sick of a Federal Government that pretends it has no responsibility for the national electricity market at all. What they want is solutions. Jay Weatherill came up with a positive plan last week. All, again, we hear from the Coalition is just negativity and trying basically to run down South Australia is what we hear in Question Time day after day.
PYNE: Well in democracies Anthony governments have to bear responsibility for their failures. And the South Australian Labor Government has been in power for 16 years …
ALBANESE: Well do you bear responsibility for the car plan?
PYNE: Hang on, I gave you a good run, I didn’t interrupt you. Labor has been in power in South Australia for 16 years and they are solely responsible for the obsession with closing down baseload power in South Australia …
ALBANESE: No, the market is responsible, Christopher.
PYNE: And responsible for the South Australian taxpayers…
ALBANESE: The market is responsible …
HOST: Gentlemen, can we perhaps change tack and turn our attention to …
ALBANESE: It’s not a government-owned power station. The Government didn’t make a decision to shut it down.
HOST: Thank you Anthony. Christopher, if I can just direct your attention to the Chinese extradition treaty for a moment and ask how it came to pass that this was debated like this, put forward then rescinded in the midst of a visit from the Chinese Premier. It seems entirely embarrassing. How did it get to this point?
PYNE: Well Julie Bishop has withdrawn the motion to pass the extradition treaty and we are going to talk again to people within the party and also of course with the Labor Party about what they may be prepared to support. And as far as our relationship with China goes, it is obviously a very strong and robust relationship. But we don’t always agree with the Chinese Government about everything and one of things we don’t always agree with them about is the treatment of human rights issues. So these are important debates. We obviously want to make sure …
HOST: It is regrettable that they didn’t happen before it was first put up and now rescinded?
PYNE: Well we want to make sure of two things. We want to make sure that Australians don’t escape to China who have broken the law and we want to try them for crimes here. We want to be able to extradite them back here. And, similarly, we don’t want to become a safe haven for kleptocrats in the Chinese bureaucracy who are hiding in Australia and avoiding legal issues back in China. But to do those two things, we need to be very clear about the protections in terms of human rights. One of the key protections in this treaty of course, was the discretion of the minister to refuse to allow someone to be extradited if there were doubts about any of those protections. But that wasn’t enough to convince the Senate or the Labor Party so we will keep talking these issues through, which are really, quite frankly, beyond politics. They are important issues of national security and national confidence.
HOST: Albo, you guys for your part have said that there isn’t issues necessarily specific to China; this is a broad stance with regard to extradition treaties across the spectrum. Are there any specific remedies with regard to China that would get you to the point that the Government seems to be at when it comes to this particular, this specific extradition treaty?
ALBANESE: Look we are not ruling out in the future, as China’s legal system evolves, an engagement on these issues. What’s extraordinary though is that the relationship with China is too important to have what’s been a debacle frankly over the last 24 hours where the Government doesn’t seem to have even known what its own members were doing, let alone the Senate, let alone what we were doing when we made our decision. One would have thought that this should have been handled in a much more sensitive way and you know the Government needs to learn the lesson from that and negotiate with all of the Parliament in order to make sure that there’s not just simply a repeat of what has been a pretty poor 24 hours yet again for the Government.
HOST: Hey guys, before we let you both go, I know you are both big music fans. You Chris, I know are into a lot of 80s tracks.
PYNE: That’s our era David.
HOST: That’s right. It certainly is. But Albo, you are a former programmer of Rage and today is a big day for you because you have become an ambassador for world Record Store Day.
ALBANESE: I have. It’s a big deal. It’s a global day – April 22 – and people can go into their local independent record store and there will be people performing and DJs playing and a focus on I guess getting the message out there that, yes, people can sit in their lounge room and download a track these days, but nothing replaces actually going into a record store, engaging with the community, thumbing through racks of CDs, or these days vinyl is back, and admiring the artwork and the liner notes and touching and feeling it rather than just listening to a track. And many albums of course you need to hear all the tracks in the right order because they fit together just like a great novel.
HOST: They certainly do.
PYNE: You are such a relic. But that’s why we love him.
HOST: Keeping it old school. Good stuff guys.
ALBANESE: It should be called old school record day.
HOST: That’s right, old school record day.
HOST: Good on you. Thanks guys.
ALBANESE: See you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.