Subjects: Finkel Review; Jeremy Corbyn.
HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, in Two Tribes, good morning to you both.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ALBANESE: Good morning.
HOST: Now we’ll start with you if we can.
ALBANESE: Why? Start with me for a change.
HOST: No we are going to start with Chris. He is in power for now. But Chris Pyne …
ALBANESE: For ever? Until the end of the week?
HOST: That’s right, President for life. Now Chris, this meeting yesterday of the Coalition party room, it has been described as a bitter and personal meeting. Tony Abbott was apparently told to stop interrupting and to show some respect. There were about 20 MPS who spoke out quite forcefully against the Finkel energy review. Is the clean energy target dead in the water?
PYNE: Well I was at the meeting and I can tell you that the media characterisation of it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the reality of it. It was a very sensible and serious discussion about energy with the one priority in mind, which is to reduce the cost of electricity to make our energy supply stable, which it isn’t, and to meet our emissions target. That’s the three things that the Government wants to do and the Finkel Review, which was handed to the government last Friday, state and federal, needs to be properly considered. And yesterday was the first chance for the Coalition party room to talk about it and discuss it. There’ certainly weren’t 20 people speaking against the Finkel Review, as has been characterised. But there were people of course asking questions, as they should. That’s what good Members of Parliament should do and I think the public are really over the old politics of the Government must have an announcement instantaneously for the television news that is hard and fast. I think they want us to consider, that we are on their side, listen to what the public wants and respond positively and that is what we are doing.
HOST: Isn’t this going to come to a crunch point? It did look like it is very much heading towards that crunch point on the basis of some of the robust exchanges that have been reported out of yesterday’s meeting.
PYNE: Well there weren’t robust exchanges. I was there and there weren’t robust exchanges. There was a very sensible, considered discussion and the Government doesn’t have to make an announcement about how we are going to take the Finkel report forward today.
HOST: So Tony Abbott wasn’t told to show some respect?
PYNE: Well everyone should show respect to each other but I am not going to comment on the actual meeting and what happened in it. But I can tell you what the Government is doing, is by bringing in export controls on gas we are going to make sure that the price of gas is forced down and as a consequence that will help with electricity prices. We are taking immediate action to reduce electricity prices and to stabilise the system and what is perfectly clear out of the Finkel Review is that the South Australian model, which is to helter skelter put up wind farms and rely on solar power to the point where 50 percent of our energy comes from that intermittent source of power, has been a failure and what we need to do of course is invest in storage and if only the Weatherill Government had required wind farms and solar farms to invest in storage South Australia wouldn’t have the most expensive and unstable power in the country.
HOST: To you Albo, Labor’s been talking a lot about consensus. Bill Shorten has been saying that he wants to work with the Coalition on this. Is the danger that if Malcolm Turnbull ends up sort of making enough concessions to conservatives within his party and comes up with a proposal that is so far from Finkel that it bears no resemblance to what was recommended last week, that Labor will withdraw that offer of consensus?
ALBANESE: Well it’s not a blank cheque, obviously. What Christopher continues to do to an audience playing there in Adelaide is to pretend that this is a South Australian issue. The fact is there is a national energy problem. Prices are going up right around the country. NSW, which relies upon coal, had outages for industry and for homes just a couple of months ago. What everyone is saying in terms of the experts, be it Dr Finkel as a scientist, be it the energy providers, be it economists are saying, is that you need a market-based response, you need that certainty there in the system so that people can invest. That is what is required. Now there is a responsibility on both sides of politics to do what we can to achieve an outcome that has cross-party support. Now that’s important because part of the problem here is that when governments have changed, policies have changed and people have made big promises. The Coalition said when they got rid of the carbon price that prices would go down. That was four years ago. Prices have gone up. Wholesale prices have doubled and you haven’t had the investment that’s required.
So I think it is reasonable what Christopher says about his party room having a mature debate about it. I don’t think they should be expected to come out with an immediate response. There is obviously push back from some of the more conservative elements of the Liberal Party and the National Party about this but they have a responsibility. They can’t continue to blame someone else and what we’ve said is that Finkel provides a framework. It’s not our ideal position; we think it should be an emissions intensity scheme, but nonetheless if you get to the same destination in a different way then that’s a good thing. And that destination is lower emissions, lower prices, and more stability.
PYNE: He’s become a statesman and he is no fun anymore.
ALBANESE: I chose not to smash you up, Christopher.
PYNE: No, you were so polite.
HOST: I think he is just enjoying the fight.
PYNE: Very statesman like, I’m very proud of you Anthony.
HOST: Hey guys, Albo actually, we were having a conversation a little bit earlier in the program about the fallout from the UK General Election and how it came to pass that Jeremy Corbyn this Labour guy who was loved by root-and-branch supporters came to challenge a conservative that was having some difficulty defining precisely what that leader stood for and we thought whether the Corbynese effect might be something that branches between our two great nations. Just wondering whether you see that as a now political movement – Corbynese? You might see that you play a distinct role in that.
ALBANESE: Who are you asking?
HOST: You – the ‘ese’ part.
PYNE: Now he doesn’t want to have a go.
ALBANESE: The truth is that the Australian and the British political systems are very different. The British Labour Party is different from the Australian Labor Party. You can’t draw parallels.
HOST: Which one do you like the most?
ALBANESE: I like Australian Labor because we have our own history and quite often I think people, whether it be people in the Labor Party or people on the conservative side who tug their forelock to the UK do us a disservice. It was Hawke and Keating who modernised Labor here well before the British Labour Party was modernised but Jeremy Corbyn, I’ve met Jeremy, he is a very likeable fellow. He’s someone who has strong convictions and I think his authenticity shone through in the election campaign. I wasn’t surprised that he did well.
HOST: What did you say Chris?
PYNE: Sounds familiar, sounds like you’re describing yourself.
ALBANESE: No, that’s up to others to describe my characteristics.
PYNE: I’m not sure of Corbynese. Corbynese is almost as bad as Albo-lanche.
HOST: We need to one up Albo-lanche.
PYNE: Which I launched here on your program a couple of weeks ago, the Albo-lanche.
HOST: It’s taken the world by storm. People have been using that term just walking down the Rundle Mall, you’d be surprised the extent to which it’s got traction.
ALBANESE: Maybe they’re Pyning for Corbynese.
HOST: There you go, we’ve come full circle.
PYNE: He’s a poor man’s Jeremy Corbyn, Anthony Albanese.
HOST: That’s a bit harsh.
PYNE: Well Jeremy is much more left wing than Anthony Albanese.
ALBANESE: That’s true.
PYNE: Anthony is a pale imitation. Certainly he’s to the left, but Jeremy is a real red ragger from what I’ve read.
HOST: Well it was statesmanlike and consensus driven for a while there but it was never going to last. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, always great to catch up, we’ll do it again next week. Thank you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.