Issues: Pricing carbon; Climate Change science; Craig “Skyhooks” Emerson
STEVE PRICE: Saw your interview with Anthony Albanese on Ten yesterday. He’s, as you pointed out, one of the few senior Labor ministers prepared to come on your program, the only one, I think.
ANDREW BOLT: In fact, he will be, at this stage, I though, I’ll announce that he will be the first Labor MP I will be campaigning for at the next election.
STEVE PRICE: I’m not sure he’ll want to hear that.
ANDREW BOLT: No, he must because I think it’s a disgrace the Liberals, last election, preferenced the Greens above Anthony Albanese. That’s got to be changed.
STEVE PRICE: The Minister’s on the line. Minister, good evening.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day, Steve. G’day, Andrew.
STEVE PRICE: How’s the sales pitch going?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: We’re out there selling our message. The world hasn’t ended. The coal industry’s still going.
I notice today that some of the biggest stock gains were BlueScope Steel, Mineral Deposits, Evolution Mining, so certainly the market out there is talking and, in terms of business, there’s a great deal of support for pricing carbon from business because what is does is provide some investment certainty.
STEVE PRICE: I made the point to the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, on The Project tonight, that you’ve been critical of Tony Abbott for staging stunts. That was just a stunt by Wayne Swan yesterday, wandering into a supermarket, holding up a leg of lamb and saying, see, it hasn’t gone up in price. I mean, it was never going to go up yesterday, was it?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Tony Abbott said it.
STEVE PRICE: No, he said it might go up.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No.
STEVE PRICE: Barnaby Joyce was the lamb roast man.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: There was no ‘might’ about some of Tony Abbott’s claims. Whyalla was going to disappear off the map. Coal mining was going to end. There was going to be these massive increases.
For example, we know that Woolworths and Coles – where most people get their groceries – have said there will be no increase in their prices as a result of the Carbon Price.
ANDREW BOLT: Did you actually think that he meant, and that anyone took him to mean, that Whyalla and the coal industry would disappear overnight?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: They were the claims that he made and what we’re seeing…
ANDREW BOLT: No, overnight. I’m just asking about overnight.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: They were the sort of hysterical claims…
ANDREW BOLT: No, no, that’s exactly right. I’m just trying to narrow it down. Did you really seriously think that he meant or anyone took him to mean that Saturday Whyalla good, Sunday Whyalla gone?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s what he said.
ANDREW BOLT: No, he didn’t. I’ve read – I mean, I’ve criticised his quotes, right, before you came on, I said, you know, gave the – it was bad, you know.
STEVE PRICE: It was over the top.
ANDREW BOLT: And over the top. I’ve said that but, I mean, you’re saying – you seem to be suggesting that someone – that he meant, and people would have taken it to mean, that Saturday there’s a Whyalla and Sunday there isn’t.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’m just saying what he said and what we’re seeing, Andrew…
ANDREW BOLT: No, you’re not.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: What we’re seeing is half a trillion dollars of investment in the resources sector. We’ve never seen more investment as we are now. In the last six months, Andrew, in the lead–up to July 1, we have seen more investment and, as you know, investment doesn’t occur for a day or a week or a month or even a year. We’re talking about projects for the next decade and some of them beyond that.
ANDREW BOLT: You are right.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: We’ve seen more investment.
STEVE PRICE: Maybe they’re all expecting…
ANDREW BOLT: No, no, no…
STEVE PRICE: Maybe they’re all expecting you’re going to lose government and the tax won’t be there.
ANTHONY ALBANESE:No. Many of us expect Tony Abbott to actually keep it.
ANDREW BOLT: Well, you say that but…
STEVE PRICE: Just before you ask your question, Andrew, just on the reaction yesterday, are you embarrassed, Minister, today about your colleague Craig Emerson and his Skyhooks performance?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I only just caught the end of it today, I must say. But as a singer, Craig Emerson makes a great politician.
ANDREW BOLT: Well, you’ve learnt not to sing, haven’t you?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’m a shocker. I’d make Emmo look good so I’m sure Emmo will be out there tomorrow encouraging me.
ANDREW BOLT: Oh, God, I thought it was a terrible mistake.
But, listen, can I just go back. You’re quite right about the investment but of course, obviously, business also doesn’t cancel investment overnight and doesn’t make decisions based on what the price of carbon dioxide will be, emissions will be over the next year or two years or three years. It’s a longer term thing.
Can I ask you, you said business wants certainty? What will the price of carbon be per tonne, carbon dioxide be per tonne if you’re re – elected in four years’ time, at the end of your next term?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: As you know, I can’t say that because the price will be established under a market based system.
ANDREW BOLT: Exactly. But this is my point, this is my point, Anthony. There is no certainty.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: But you can’t tell what the price of anything will be in four years’ time, Andrew. There’s no point building up straw men just to knock them down.
ANDREW BOLT: No, no, no, because I know what the price of carbon will be under your scheme in two years’ time because you said so, and I know what it’ll be in three years’ time, you said so. After that nobody knows. Nobody knows. And that’s when people are saying we want certainty…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It will be established by the market.
ANDREW BOLT: There is no certainty.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’ll be established by the market.
ANDREW BOLT: Yes, but there is no certainty.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, according to you, on that basis no one will participate in anything because nothing in life remains completely static.
ANDREW BOLT: No, that is not my point. My point is that there is uncertainty and that your scheme doesn’t actually build certainty.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: With due respect, the business sector, including resources companies, finance companies, the Australian Industry Group which represents manufacturing in this country – across the board – you’ve got to acknowledge there is a great deal of support. Indeed, under the former Howard Government and before Tony Abbott became leader there was of course bipartisan support for putting a price on carbon.
ANDREW BOLT: Yes.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It was something backed by the business community.
ANDREW BOLT: If there was an international deal, John Howard has since said. He regrets…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, he didn’t say it at the time.
ANDREW BOLT: Oh, he did but I think he said it so softly that neither you nor I heard it.
STEVE PRICE: Said it under his breath.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: He said his emissions trading scheme would be the widest of any scheme. Australia would lead the world.
ANDREW BOLT: You don’t have to convince me that he made a terrible mistake and I’m so sorry that he made it but…
STEVE PRICE: Sorry, can I ask you, Anthony Albanese, the design of this scheme is to prevent people from polluting with carbon, right?
ANDREW BOLT: Polluting, Steve, no.
STEVE PRICE: Hang on, Andrew, just let me ask the question.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, it’s to put a price on it.
STEVE PRICE: And to change behaviour.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: As with other things.
STEVE PRICE: And to change behaviour, right?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yes.
STEVE PRICE: So why then do you prop up the Point Henry aluminium smelter with government money, taxpayers’ money and the briquette company? Why would you prop them up if they’re doing the things you’re trying to get people to stop doing?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well that decision, of course, wasn’t related to the price on carbon.
STEVE PRICE: Oh!
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, it wasn’t. The fact is that decision was about their exposure to the high Australian dollar, and one of the reasons why there is high Australian dollar is, of course, because the Australian economy, relative to the rest of the world, is going extremely well.
STEVE PRICE: So you just coincidentally put money into Point Henry the day before the tax starts?
ANDREW BOLT: It’s not – is it a coincidence that the money that Point Henry or Alcoa’s getting for that smelter, to keep it going, is almost exactly the same amount of money they have to pay under the carbon dioxide tax? Is that a coincidence?
STEVE PRICE: I wasn’t privy to it. It’s not my portfolio so I’m not privy to the details.
ANDREW BOLT: Oh, maybe it’s a coincidence.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No. But with regard to trade exposed industries, we make no apologies for the fact that they’re going to get up to 94 per cent of their permits free because we want to make sure that Australian industry isn’t disadvantaged.
But what will occur with a price on carbon, over a period of time, is we will move to a clean energy economy. There are big advantages in that, of course, in terms of jobs growth, but also in terms of our national position.
We can’t continue to be dependent upon foreign energy sources. They’re finite, by definition. Renewables are, by definition…
ANDREW BOLT: Oh, Anthony, please. Our brown coal in Victoria will last something like 800 to 1000 years. I don’t know that we’re in any danger of running out and if we are we can go to uranium which you and I both support.
But, listen, yesterday I got a bit of criticism for not letting you finish an answer, just like I did then, and I lost sleep last night thinking I’d been too rude to you.
Can I ask a question and I promise this time not…
STEVE PRICE: You’ve just got to learn to shut up, Andrew, that’s all.
ANDREW BOLT: Not exactly – no, I know that, and it’s a terrible sin. I’m really apologetic.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’ve got to say, some of your media colleagues were saying, no wonder Labor ministers don’t go on his show.
ANDREW BOLT: Yes, but others were saying when a bloke doesn’t answer a straight question maybe you shouldn’t have him on the show.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I didn’t get a chance.
ANDREW BOLT: Yes, you did. Well, I’m going to give you the chance now.
By how much will your tax cut the world’s temperature or reduce the world’s temperature from what’s otherwise expected? And now I’m not going to say anything, I’m just going to ask you to provide that figure.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: This will be a test for you, Andrew.
What we say is that if we don’t act the pace of Climate Change, the pace of global warming, will increase. It has since the industrial revolution. If we do not act then the world will warm by more than two degrees and the consequences for our economy and for our environment will be catastrophic.
There is a price to be paid on carbon. It’s important we don’t pass it on to our kids and grandkids.
ANDREW BOLT: I’ll try once more because I don’t…
STEVE PRICE: You just interrupted.
ANDREW BOLT: No, no…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: You don’t like the answer, Andrew.
ANDREW BOLT: No, because it’s not an answer. No, no, all right, look…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: That doesn’t mean…
ANDREW BOLT: Your plan, your plan is to take, according to Julia Gillard, 160 million tonnes of carbon dioxide…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Correct.
ANDREW BOLT: …out by 2020, either to reduce it here or to pay some foreigners to reduce theirs, right, 160 million tonnes. That’s got an equivalent effect on the world’s temperature. Do you know what that is?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, Andrew, you have to look at…
ANDREW BOLT: I’ve got a calculation here.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I know you’ve got a calculation, Andrew. But I’ll put it…
ANDREW BOLT: Shall I say it or shall you?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’ll put a question back to you which is: why is it that Tony Abbott has exactly the same target as the Government?
ANDREW BOLT: Spot on. Stupid. I agree.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Five per cent.
ANDREW BOLT: Yep.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: But the difference is we’re doing it in an efficient way.
ANDREW BOLT: No.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: He’s doing it in a Stalinist, big government way.
ANDREW BOLT: Anthony, look, I’m completely agreeing with you. I have to interrupt because it’s a fantastic red herring and I agree with you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, let me finish if you agree with me.
ANDREW BOLT: No, but I’ve criticised him.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Let me finish if you agree with me.
ANDREW BOLT: No, but I want to go back to my question.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: He wants to plant trees in an area the size of Germany.
ANDREW BOLT: I think it’s stupid. I mean, this is a party – you’re quite right, now you’ve distracted me, this is a party that worries about the Chinese coming over to take over productive farmland and they want to stick it with useless trees instead. All right, we’re agreeing.
Let’s go back to where we don’t agree. The fact is your plan won’t cut the world’s temperature by anything that anyone can possibly measure. What on earth is the good of it? You’re asking people to spend billions on nothing.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Andrew, people won’t be spending billions on nothing.
ANDREW BOLT: Yes, they are, a $10 billion clean energy fund, that’s $10 billion on nothing.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: That is much smaller than the amount that Tony Abbott will take from taxpayers for his so-called “Direct Action” plan.
But it is also the case that if no one does anything, that has an impact on the environment – if you believe in Climate Change. If you don’t, your position makes sense – if you’re a climate sceptic.
ANDREW BOLT: No, no, no, my position – I always believe do something but don’t do something useless. Are you then saying…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I don’t think it’s useless.
ANDREW BOLT: Let me put it the other way; let me put the question the other way. Are you saying that your tax actually won’t cut the world’s temperature? Is that what you’re saying?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, I’m not saying that at all.
ANDREW BOLT: Well, if you are saying it’ll cut the temperature, what will it cut it by?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Andrew, you play these sort of word games.
ANDREW BOLT: No, it’s the…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: This is your favourite one.
ANDREW BOLT: Can’t you see, Anthony…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: You played it yesterday morning and you’re back again.
STEVE PRICE: Yes, we’ve been around this track.
ANDREW BOLT: But it’s a fundamental thing about this whole thing. This is what I find. I feel like I’m the boy in the emperor’s, you know, clothes – new clothes scenario. The nation is doing this massive, massive retooling of the economy to cut the world’s temperature and nobody in the government will actually say by how much by.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: How many lives are saved by, you know, donating foreign aid? How many?
ANDREW BOLT: Oh, I’ve actually been to see the lives saved. I’ve been there and seen people…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: You can put a precise calculation on Australia’s foreign aid?
ANDREW BOLT: No, but I can – look, if you can’t then we’re in trouble.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: You know that if you don’t do it, right down to the person, then…
ANDREW BOLT: No, no, that’s an absurd sense of accuracy.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, it’s not at all.
STEVE PRICE: Andrew. Andrew.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: And a similar analogy…
ANDREW BOLT: World Vision sends me photographs and letters from the people they actually help so I can see it.
STEVE PRICE: Okay. Andrew and Minister, thank you for re–engaging.
ANDREW BOLT: Hey, hey, we haven’t started. Look, anyway, I’m still – look, you won’t talk me out of it. I’m still barracking for Anthony Albanese at the next election.
STEVE PRICE: Yes, and I think he wants to know who…
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Do me a favour, don’t come and hand out for me. I’ll be in big trouble.
ANDREW BOLT: Oh, no, mate, it’ll be so much fun, I tell you. I promise I’m going to be there.
STEVE PRICE: The Minister wants to know who’s winning out of the Dragons and the Raiders. Thank you very much, Anthony.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Go the Raiders.
STEVE PRICE: Good on you, Anthony Albanese.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.