Subjects: Energy, asylum seekers; marriage equality.
HOST: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese good morning to you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
HOST: Now my understanding guys, is that the Newspoll people are going to be in the field this weekend gauging voter sentiment. Always something that is watched closely by those in politics. And starting with you Chris Pyne like clockwork it looks like Tony Abbott has fired another shot across Malcolm Turnbull’s bows by promising to cross the floor of Parliament to vote against any attempt to legislate a Clean Energy Target.
PYNE: Well David, what the public want us to do is deliver reliable, affordable energy prices, which also manage to reduce carbon emissions. And that’s exactly what the Turnbull Government is doing in a pragmatic, all-of-the-above approach; supporting solar, solar thermal, wind power, pumped hydro, coal-fired power stations to keep them open because that’s what the public want us to do. We’re not going to take an ideological approach to that and we will announce our policy towards a Clean Energy Target as that becomes available and that’s what Josh Frydenberg is working on.
HOST: What do you think Tony Abbott is up to though because it does look like to me very much like a rerun of the same leadership-based tactics that he used to knock off Malcolm Turnbull the first time, back in 2009.
PYNE: Well look I don’t think the public are interested in politicians’ pronouncements about this or about that. I think what they’re interested in is some outcomes. That is what the Government has been delivering, whether it’s media law, whether it’s industrial relations …
HOST: Should Tony Abbott pull his head in?
PYNE: I’m not going to be a commentator on my colleagues. They have to paddle their own canoe, as they say. What I’m trying to do is be part of a Government that’s …
HOST: Be careful talking about canoes in this town. It hasn’t gone well in the past.
PYNE: Well, that was a long time ago. I’ve moved on.
HOST: So has the former Defence Minister. Hey, to you Albo; can you imagine a scenario whereby Labor is prepared to take a bipartisan position on a Clean Energy Target if Malcolm Turnbull comes up with one that’s deemed to be satisfactory by the ALP?
ALBANESE: Well we’ve clearly said that we would be prepared to do that and what’s more – call me old fashioned, how about we listen to the plan that’s been come up with by the Chief Scientist, rather than by the politicians. The Chief Scientist, Professor Finkel, looked at these issues, came up with a plan. It wasn’t our ideal plan, a Clean Energy Target. Our ideal plan was an Emissions Intensity Scheme that everyone from the energy sector says would actually be the best system to reduce prices. But this would be better than nothing because it would provide that certainty. One thing that we do know, regardless of where people are coming from, unless they have that certainty you won’t get the investment and therefore you won’t get the downward pressure on prices.
HOST: Chris Pyne, to some news that’s broken this morning; the Government is set to notify the first group of refugees on Manus and Nauru that they are to be resettled in the United States. Does the Government have clarity yet on how many of those refugees the United States has agreed to take?
PYNE: Well the good news is that for at least 50 asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, they will be heading to the United States very soon. There’s a process that’s been gone through. We hope it will be the majority of people, at least on both of those places, and we are fixing the mess that Labor created through having loose borders and I think it’s a great achievement for Peter Dutton and Malcolm Turnbull who kept the deal with Donald Trump in place, that he had made with President Obama, and it’s good news for the asylum seekers who will be moving off Nauru and Manus Island. The sooner we can get them all off the better. We have no more detention centres being opened. We have all the children now out of detention. We’re in fact closing detention centres. We’ve stopped the boats. It is a signature tune of the Government that we’ve been able to get this, what was an open border policy under Labor under control.
HOST: Anthony Albanese do you accept that this is preferable deal to ones we have seen in the past when it comes to resettlement of those on Manus and Nauru? It is going to a first world country, one that is a signatory to human rights conventions. Is this a good result?
ALBANESE: Well we support this outcome and we’ve been calling for people who are on Manus and Nauru to be settled. There will come a time, hopefully soon, where Christopher will have to stop saying, you know talking about the former Labor Government. The fact is these people have been left there for far too long and they do need to be settled. It is in their interests obviously as individuals or as families, but it is it is also in Australia’s interests given the responsibility that we have.
HOST: Back to you Chris Pyne, do you support – on the question of the same-sex marriage postal vote survey – do you support the call that was made by one of your cabinet colleagues, Peter Dutton, who is an advocate for a no vote, that if this does not get up, if a majority of Australians respond that they are not in favour of gay marriage, that the Parliament should then abandon looking at it for ever more?
PYNE: There’s no such thing as for ever more in politics or in life but I think the reality is if a yes vote is not achieved in the postal plebiscite then the momentum for change will go out. And as a consequence it is critically important that people focus on the one thing that this ballot is about and that is whether two people who love each other should be able to get married to each other if they choose to do so. That is the only question that people are being asked on the ballot paper and every other extraneous issue, every other red herring being thrown up by the no campaign – I’ve seen some of their television ads which are quite clearly misleading people – this is not a vote about curriculums in schools, it’s not a vote about freedom of speech, it’s a vote about whether you think two people who love each other should be allowed to get married and therefore people should vote yes. If we vote yes then we can have marriage equality by the end of the year.
HOST: What’s your reading of the way the campaign is tracking Albo? You are obviously red hot in favour of the yes vote but do you think that the no forces are succeeding somewhat in getting some of these other issues – freedom of speech, religious freedom and so forth – on to the agenda?
ALBANESE: Well I think what people will think for themselves is why is it that the no campaign aren’t prepared to actually argue the merit on what is before the Australian people, which was just eloquently outlined by Christopher then. The one question that is before the Australian people – whether marriage will be available to two people who love each other, who want to commit in front of family and friends and that’s the only thing that is before the Australian people. All these other issues, I certainly hope will make people think well, maybe they are not prepared to argue the case. And there is a case for people who have a religious conviction that marriage isn’t about the Government, the state; it’s an institution which is ordained by God, it’s a sacred institution that is just between a man and a woman. If you believe that and I respect that, then that is the case that should be argued. But the truth is that that is very much a minority position in Australian society. The key here is are people going to get out there and vote. Will people when they receive their ballot papers put them in the post box rather than put it aside for tomorrow, which becomes next week, becomes next month and then they don’t vote? So they key here is for people to get out and vote. Peter Dutton has done the yes case a service by pointing out that this is a critical point. It is the point in which we can get this done this year. But I tell you what, the issue won’t go away. I had someone say to me yesterday that they voted yes because they thought that was the only way they could stop talking about his issue.
HOST: It would It would be nice to talk about something else for a change, that’s for sure. It’s been going on and on for several months. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, always great to catch up with you for Two Tribes. We will do it all again next week.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.