Subjects: Coca Cola closure at Thebarton, Renewable energy, Alexander Downer
HOST: It’s time now to shift our attention to Canberra where we catch up as we do every week with Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese. Good morning guys, how’s it going?
PYNE: Yes, good morning.
ALBANESE: Good morning.
HOST: Now look, Chris, we might kick off with you as the resident South Australian in this duo to get your thoughts first about the announcement from Coca Cola this morning about the closure of the Thebarton plant.
PYNE: Well it’s very disappointing for the workers at Thebarton. It’s very disappointing for South Australia to lose another iconic employer in Coca Cola. I’m not sure of the circumstances surrounding the closure of the factory but I’m sure we’ll find out as the day progresses through your good efforts as to the reasons that Coca Cola gives for the closure, but it goes to the whole issue of the future of our state in terms of making us an attractive destination for investment and growth.
In my area of defence industry obviously I’m doing my bit for our state by prosecuting the investment in naval ship building at Osborne that will create up to five thousand jobs which will be a big shot in the arm at Osborne and across the city and bringing new head offices to our state. But we can’t keep going on as a high tax, highly expensive place to do business with the highest electricity prices in the country and the most unreliable electricity supply in the country and this is where the rubber starts to hit the road for businesses.
They have to think about their future. Now I don’t know if that’s the reason why Coca Cola are closing but the general environment in the state is not conducive to jobs and growth and investment. And the state government really needs to take a long look at some of the policies that they’ve implemented over the last 16 years because it isn’t making us a state that business wants to stay in.
HOST: What’s your view Albo? Do you see any political implications from this closure? It does feel like in South Australia that we are more often than not on the receiving end of these corporate consolidations where Arnott’s has left. There are other big employers that have shut up shop to go to other states. Does that say anything about the manner in which our state has been governed for the last 16 years do you think?
ALBANESE: Well what I won’t be doing is playing politics with this issue as Christopher just sought to do. The truth is that manufacturing across Australia has had issues and we’ve seen closures certainly in my state in New South Wales, as well, unfortunately. I think today is a day when we need to think about the 180 people who will lose their jobs, think about their family, their friends, as well what sort of structural adjustment, what support could be given to those people to try and secure them future employment rather than try to point the finger, given that Christopher just conceded he doesn’t know, and nor do I, what the decision making processes have been for Coca Cola in making this decision to close the plant.
HOST: Can I ask you one more Albo, just about what appeared to be some confusion last week on Bill Shorten’s part about the renewable energy target that Labor has got. Is this a target that you are sort of committed to hitting, or is it more of a sort of aspiration that you’d like to hit in an ideal world?
ALBANESE: The issue here is that the renewable energy target – the RET – is specific legislation and that applies to the target that has been agreed of 23 per cent by 2020. That’s a bipartisan agreement that’s there. Now whether you use the word target, or aim or objective is neither here nor there, the mechanism that we see to promote renewable energy is the emissions intensity scheme, as the vehicle for promoting renewable energy, and we also see that there’s been a significant shift. Renewables used to be relatively expensive. That’s changing over a period of time. Renewables are becoming cheaper and they’re certainly becoming cheaper relative to other forms such as coal, but of course gas also, is going to be increasingly an important part of the energy mix.
HOST: Christopher Pyne, one of our contributors to the program, Phil Coorey, has written in the Australian Financial Review today about a plot to remove Steven Marshall and replace him with a former colleague of yours, Alexander Downer. Did that make it to you? Were you asked for input on that manoeuvre?
PYNE: Well quickly I want to speak to what Anthony said. The truth is that Chris Bowen was asked this week whether Labor would legislate their renewable energy target…
HOST: The question was about Alexander Downer.
ALBANESE: It’s about Alexander Downer mate.
PYNE: Well look, you know, the truth is that they’re asked 19 times about (inaudible)…
ALBANESE: It’s about Downer mate.
PYNE: Well you’re not running the interview Anthony. I’m allowed to comment on what (inaudible)…
HOST: Well we are.
ALBANESE: See if you can be vaguely relevant.
HOST: Hang on. Christopher Pyne, were you approached about a plot to replace Steven Marshall with Alexander Downer?
PYNE: This is one of the most risible stories I’ve ever seen in the newspaper and Phil Coorey should quite frankly hang his head in shame. Alexander Downer has retired from politics more than 10 years ago. The idea that Alexander Downer would be coming back to State Parliament, and to become the State Leader is one of the funniest stories I’ve read in a long time.
ALBANESE: Maybe you could do it.
HOST: I think he’s busy. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time. We’re going to leave it there.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.