Subjects: Cory Bernardi; Malcolm Turnbull; energy supply
HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us each and every Wednesday. Good morning to you Albo.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day.
HOST: And Christopher Pyne, good morning to you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will. Good morning Anthony. Is David not there?
HOST: I’m here.
HOST: David’s here. He’s holding his fire.
ALBANESE: He’s demure.
HOST: He is.
PYNE: Thank goodness he is there.
HOST: You must be relieved Christopher, because you can be openly hostile about Cory Bernardi now?
PYNE: Look I’ve never been hostile about Cory Bernardi. He’s never really crossed my radar screen and I think the only point that really needs to be made about Cory Bernardi is that this is guy who eight months ago got elected as a Liberal. He would never have been elected if he wasn’t on the party ticket and if he really wanted to restore faith in politics as he says he does, he would do the honourable thing and resign from the Senate and recontest his position as an independent, as one of his political heroes Phil Gram did in Texas when he decided to leave the Democrats. He created his own vacancy in his own seat and won it back as a Republican. Now apparently, if Cory is so popular as he seems to think that he is, he would apparently easily get re-elected as an independent, which one wonders why he didn’t do so at the last Federal election only eight months ago.
HOST: The Liberals would fill that vacancy if he quit. There wouldn’t be a by-election though would there Christopher? He’d have to contest at the next Federal election wouldn’t he, for a Senate spot.
PYNE: Absolutely and that’s exactly what he should do. I mean, if he wants to restore people’s trust, he has just breached the trust and faith of 345,000 people in South Australia who voted Liberal in the Senate, which is totally contradictory to what he said yesterday. But he could restore that faith by resigning from the Senate and recontesting honestly and openly as an independent, which he didn’t do at the last election in July. And that’s why Sean Edwards is not in the Senate and Sean Edwards should quite rightfully feel that he has been cheated out of his Senate spot by a person who is now no longer sitting as a Liberal. So I feel very sorry for the Liberal people who handed out how-to-vote cards, the people who helped fund raise, who supported out party, who turn up at state council and branch meetings every month to support the Liberal Party, who get the vote out and who put Cory Bernardi two on the Liberal Party Senate ticket and now he is audaciously refusing to keep the contract that he made with the Liberal Party to support the party in this term.
HOST: John Howard managed to juggle the competing interests and agendas of the more progressive moderate stream of the Liberals and the more conservative stream. What does it say about Malcolm Turnbull’s people management skills that he has been unable to do so?
PYNE: Well look I think Steven Ciobo hit the nail on the head yesterday – he’s the Minister for Trade and Investment – when he said the Cory’s been in the Parliament for 10 years, he’s never laid a glove on the Labor Party, never laid a glove on the Labor Party. He has taken pot shots at his own party for 10 years. It’s the easiest thing to do in politics. Attacking your own side always gets you a headline and I can’t think of one example where he has actually taken on our opponents as I do every Wednesday on your show with Anthony Albanese and I’ve been doing it for 24 years.
ALBANESE: Not very effectively.
PYNE: No, effectively.
ALBANESE: I just thought I would get a word in there somewhere.
HOST: You’ll get you chance.
PYNE: (inaudible) … nine elections on the other hand but Cory has never attacked the Labor Party. He’s not interested in attacking them; he’s just interested in getting himself a headline and attacking our own side.
HOST: There’s a big stuff-the-lot-of-you factor here isn’t there and Labor has played its part in creating a climate too where we saw the Newspoll on Monday, it’s now getting towards one third of Australians think there’s a piece of cigarette paper dividing the Labor Party and the Liberal Party and that you are all motivated by self-interest.
ALBANESE: Well I think what they are wondering is what the purpose is of the Turnbull Government and it’s not surprising that they are wracked by his internal turmoil. This is a rabble without a cause. Malcolm Turnbull got elected and people thought that he would transform politics. I think he got his rhetoric quite right when he first because Prime Minister – that people wanted to move away from divisive politics and people wanted someone to stand up for their values and he just hasn’t done that. He hasn’t done that on climate change or marriage equality or anything else. He’s shrunk in the job of Prime Minister and that is because in part he is trying to hold together this Coalition of people who basically hate each other and Cory Bernardi has had a long-running feud with Christopher Pyne and others in the party. I feel some sympathy I’ve got to say with what Christopher says about him changing party allegiance just months after he was elected. I regard that as an absolute breach of trust by him and it says a lot about his character in my view.
HOST: Well, Albo, is not the Bernardi move preferable than when Labor was in power – disgruntled backbenchers and senators and others set about white anting, leaking and undermining government. Is it not a more honourable course of action for Cory Bernardi to just walk away?
ALBANESE: Than what Tony Abbott and Co are doing right now, every day. I mean, we had an enormous amount of undermining of the Turnbull position. It’s very clear that the Abbott forces are on the march and that he wants to return to the prime ministership and you’ve got others positioning themselves to sort of run through the middle – Julie Bishop and others. Perhaps even Christopher Pyne, who knows?
PYNE: Nice try.
HOST: Well, you can rule that in or out if you want Chris.
PYNE: Nice try Anthony. I mean I love being lectured by the Labor Party about disunity when we had the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Government in that six-year, unhappy period when Labor was last in power.
HOST: Hey Christopher, we’ve got a question from a caller; Scott in Athelstone has called in with a question for you. G’day Scott.
CALLER: How you going? I voted for the Senate for Liberal and I don’t think Cory Bernadi’s betrayed me but I did vote for Christopher Pyne one election and he supported Tony Abbott, then he betrayed me and voted for Malcolm Turnbull. I’m wondering whether he’ll resign?
PYNE: Well Scott I’m still in the Liberal Party, so I haven’t changed parties. I joined the Liberal Party when I was 17 and I’ve never crossed the floor. I’ve always stuck with the team. And often it’s quite hard to stick with the team; you sometimes have to subsume your own strong views about something because the team makes a different decision. And I’ve done that now for you know almost a quarter of a century and what Cory Bernadi’s done is when he hasn’t been able to get his own way, he has spat the dummy and left the team. Now he’s been bagging the team for 10 years so a lot of people will say, well this was not unexpected. But what is unexpected is to take the Senate ticket number two position for the party, to get elected as a Liberal and then eight months later decide to change and become an independent in the Senate. And that’s where the contradiction in Cory Bernadi’s position is so obviously transparent. If he really wanted to restore honesty and integrity in politics as he claims, he would resign his spot and recontest it and if he got elected good luck to him. But if he didn’t get re-elected then he’d get the answer that people actually don’t want splitters and dividers in a team like the Coalition.
ALBANESE: I think it is worth making another point that he has been in the Parliament for what, eight months, but for three months of that since the election, he spent it as the Liberal Party Government’s representative in New York. So he didn’t change allegiance before he got this overseas trip for three months in New York at the UN.
HOST: Quite a lap of honour.
ALBANESE: It is just breathtaking.
HOST: Honing his neo-con craft in Washington DC. Hey, just finally to wrap things up guys. I want to get a response from both of you to the speech Malcolm Turnbull made last week where he said coal, what he calls clean coal, should be part of Australia’s energy mix. Now we had a perfectly serviceable coal-powered station here at the Alinta Station in Port Augusta until recently, that’s now been mothballed. To you Christopher, and to you Albo, do you think that coal should again be part of the energy mix here in South Australia?
PYNE: Well I definitely do. Alan Finkel the Chief Scientist, says that clean coal technologies and carbon capture and storage should very much be part of our energy mix. In South Australia we need to have baseload energy. We need to have stable energy, and we don’t have it courtesy of the South Australian Labor Government’s ideological obsession with renewables. Now I’m in favour of renewables, as is everybody. But you have to be able to guarantee base load power. There are 700 clean coal power stations in Asia; 90 in Japan alone – 700. We don’t have one in Australia and yet we’re the largest exporter of coal in the world, so there’s absolutely no reason at all that we can’t guarantee our baseload power, reduce our electricity prices, make sure we don’t have the black-outs that we’ve had to put up with in South Australia through clean coal technology.
HOST: What about you Albo?
ALBANESE: Well Malcolm Turnbull was just looking to try and change the conversation. I don’t think he believed what he said last Wednesday. All the financiers and the people in the energy sector say that gas, in terms of baseload, which is lower emissions and cheaper than coal, is the way forward, is where there will be an expansion in terms of base load, as well as an expansion of renewables. That’s what the key people in the sector say, just as they all say, including the Government’s main energy adviser, spoke about the emissions intensity scheme that was brought up by Josh Frydenberg last year, that will lead to lower electricity prices for households and the Government ruled it out, in part to appease Cory Bernardi, quite ironically.
HOST: That didn’t really work in the end, I guess. But we’ll have to leave it there, Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, thank you very much for joining us for Two Tribes.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you, a bit earlier.
PYNE: Thank you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.