Subjects: Citizenship, energy.
HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, a very good morning to you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will and David and Anthony.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning team although I hope Penbo is getting some money for charity or something from wearing that ridiculous bloody coat that he has got on. I just looked on Twitter.
HOST: It’s my new look Albo, what do you think?
ALBANESE: What’s going on?
PYNE: Better than the duffle coat (inaudible).
HOST: Mate, I know you programmed Rage once. I reckon I’m half a chance of turning up this Friday night as some sort of hip-hop artist. Just stay listening for the album Albo, it’s even worse than (inaudible).
PYNE: He used to wear a lumberjack coat at the uni.
HOST: That’s right. The sort of shabby-chic look that we all perfected back then.
ALBANESE: I can imagine him singing I’m a Lumberjack.
PYNE: He did. He used to sit down in the mall trying to sell the Green Left newspaper or some rubbish.
HOST: Come on Chris, that was just a phase I was going through.
PYNE: It was a phase. We’ve all been through these phases.
ALBANESE: No. I was never a Trot.
PYNE: I was very right-wing when I was at university actually. I’ve really mellowed over the years, no doubt about that.
HOST: You’re becoming more left-wing the older you get Chris.
PYNE: Well I think we all start moving towards the centre as we get older. Even Anthony has given up on Marxism.
ALBANESE: I’ve always been a statesman.
HOST: The statesman, that’s right. There’s a name that’s stuck. Hey, we’re going to change the batting order today. We’re going to start with you Albo.
ALBANESE: Excellent. About time.
HOST: Don’t worry; it’s not a particularly good question. The Newspoll on Monday for the first time in a long time, it showed that there’s been a swing back from Labor towards the Coalition. Do you think that this is because Labor have looked like they’ve been wasting the Parliament’s time by hammering the citizenship issue as hard as they have been?
ALBANESE: Gee whiz. Monday’s poll showed Labor on 53 and the Coalition on 47. I think it was yet another disastrous result for the Government, I think the 18th or 19th in a row and the countdown is on to 30. It is legitimate for us to raise whether the Parliament, in itself, is functioning properly where there are question marks over people’s eligibility. But more importantly, I think the Government is playing a really risky game having a Deputy Prime Minister, and on Friday someone who will be Acting Prime Minister, who has been referred to the High Court because there is a question mark at the very least over his eligibility to sit in the Parliament, let alone be Acting Prime Minister. I think it is a very irresponsible thing and it’s extraordinary that Matt Canavan resigned as a Minister, just stood aside, he is continuing to vote, but Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash are still sitting in the Cabinet.
HOST: Can you explain for us Chris Pyne, what is the logic by which Matt Canavan who was a Cabinet Minister, had to step aside from that role, yet Barnaby Joyce is allowed to continue as Deputy PM and will indeed, as Albo says, be Acting PM later this week?
PYNE: Well I think you hit the nail on the head when you asked Albo that question because Bill Shorten is clearly a brake on Labor’s vote. Given the media storm that apparently seems to follow the Government, you would expect Labor to be vastly farther ahead. But Bill Shorten is a very unpopular figure. People don’t trust him. They think he’s shifty and of course Anthony was out again yesterday trailing his coat with another manifesto in The Australian. Labor is wasting people’s time here talking about the citizenship issue and we are getting on with the job of talking about North Korea and our defence preparedness; energy prices, and today there has been another report about how we need to actually be doing the things that the Government is doing to fix electricity and we want to keep Liddell coal-fired power station open or another five years. Labor wants to close another coal-fired power station and we have seen how that story ends in South Australia when Labor closed the Northern Power Station and we have the highest electricity prices and the most unreliable in the developed world in South Australia.
ALBANESE: Hang on, you know your mates are in government in NSW? You do know that?
PYNE: Do you want to keep the Liddell Power Station open, Anthony?
ALBANESE: You do know that? AGL don’t. AGL, the owners …
PYNE: And you want to close it?
ALBANESE: Don’t try that. It’s not kindergarten, mate. AGL have nailed the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister said that he had had all these discussions and the head of AGL, Andy Vesey was texting out yesterday saying basically that it was just nonsense; that they are going to close the power plant because it is the end of its life.
PYNE: But of course AGL …
HOST: Hey guys, guys, Sorry. Hang on. Hold, as they say in the AFL. Can I just wrap things up Chris by getting you to state the Government’s position on that AGL issue because the head of AGL did come out yesterday and deny that he had been talking to Malcolm Turnbull about keeping that coal-fired plant open? Is that the case?
PYNE: We are going to do everything we can to keep Liddell open because we have seen what happens when coal-fired power stations are allowed to close prematurely, or in Labor’s case, they encourage them to close. We have to keep electricity prices down. If Liddell closes because AGL allows it to close, then that will force prices up again and make our power less reliable. It happened at Hazelwood in Victoria, Northern Power in South Australia and we have seen how that ends. Now Labor envisages an Australia with high electricity prices. We are trying to push electricity prices down.
ALBANESE: Well that’s absolute nonsense. Liddell is at the end of its life in 2022. It’s private sector coal-fired plant in a state where the Coalition are in government, in a nation where the Coalition are in government. How the hell can you possibly blame Labor for what is going on here? The fact is the Government is being left behind by the private sector that it claims to represent.
PYNE: You’ve got no solutions.
HOST: Chris Pyne, Albo, thank you for that. We will do it again next week.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.