Subjects: AFL grand final; energy.
HOST: Good morning to you both.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
HOST: Hey, before we get into burning policy issues of the day I just wanted to ask you Albo, you were pretty chirpy this time about a year ago about the mighty Hawks, but I am just wondering how you are enjoying a few weeks off this finals series?
ALBANESE: Well I am actually going on leave on Friday. I am going up to Queensland and I will be watching both grand finals in a pub somewhere and I’m looking forward to it actually. I think the Crows-Tigers game should be an absolute cracker. Your mighty Crows, I thought you were playing for them. You were in the dressing room I noticed last weekend.
HOST: I got a bit excited. I managed to sneak in and give Eddie a bear hug. It was unbelievable.
ALBANESE: You haven’t injured Eddie or anything have you?
HOST: No way, I would not even risk doing that. What about you Chris, are you going along? I know you are a Crows Ambassador.
PYNE: Yes, I am a Crows Ambassador. I was there at the preliminary final with my family. It was very, very, very exciting. The crowd didn’t want to leave. If you remember, we all just stood three singing the song three times the whole way through which was very exciting. But no, I’m not going unfortunately. I am going away with my wife for the weekend for my birthday.
HOST: Good work. Happy birthday to you.
ALBANESE: Well, enjoy the game. I wish you all the best of luck.
PYNE: Thank you.
ALBANESE: I can relate to the poor old Tigers as a South Sydney rugby league tragic. I know what it is like to support a traditional club and wait decades to actually get your team in the grand final. But the Crows of course have got their own story with a bit of tragedy attached to it unfortunately of last year. So I’m very pleased for both clubs.
HOST: Well said, All right, let’s turn our attention to matters emanating out of Canberra, first and foremost.
ALBANESE: Nothing is more important that the grant final.
HOST: Well you will note I didn’t use the words to “something more important’’. Can we talk a bit about, Christopher Pyne, about the gas shortfall and the Federal Government’s response to it? I just wonder has the federal Liberal Party’s faith in the free market ever been at a lower ebb? You have canvassed in recent times purchasing coal-fired power plants, export controls on gas, and challenged market-based mechanisms to deal with climate change. Are you moving away from the purity of the free market?
PYNE: Well I have never been an advocate for a pure free market and I don’t think many people are in this country. I mean, there is obviously a range of views across the spectrum. I have always been a believer that when government needs to act, it should act. However I think some of the Labor people are more on the socialist side of the spectrum and think big government is the answer. I don’t think it is the answer. But sometimes the market requires that government steps in and unfortunately when Labor lifted all these controls on gas exports many years ago, gas flowed out in exports, earning the companies huge profits. But it left the domestic market short of gas.
Now the Government has taken action and more gas is flowing and the companies are coming to the party, which is a good thing and we expect them to do so even more so between now and the end of the year or we will use the mechanisms that are at our disposal to force them to do so. But they are, to their credit, actually responding to the Government’s pressure.
The ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, he pointed out this week that gas, the expense of gas, is one of the driving forces behind high electricity bills. He also pointed out that the networks, the poles and wires, is the largest cost in the electricity price. So I think we are now as a nation understanding a lot better why electricity prices have risen and we are doing something about it and I think that is a very good thing.
HOST: Can I ask you Albo, if you guys are in Government are you pulling a different lever with regard to this crisis or are you just advancing the timeline?
ALBANESE: Well lucky for Christopher that he has only been in Government for a week the way that you hear them talk. They’ve been in Government for a long time. We have been saying that the trigger needs to be pulled when it comes to ensuring that there’s a reservation of gas for use domestically and the Government is still refusing to do so and we don’t quite understand, apart from the fact there’s an issue over Barnaby Joyce with his citizenship issues and he’s the person responsible as the Acting Minister, why this simply hasn’t occurred.
I must say that when the trade union movement in particular were calling for domestic gas reservation years ago, they were derided. And when Labor adopted it as our policy we were criticised by the then Coalition as well as this being a creeping socialism and an anti-market…
PYNE: I hate to inject some facts into this discussion but the truth is…
ALBANESE: I’m pleased the Government has come around.
PYNE: The gas mechanism doesn’t actually operate until January the 1st. So this nonsense that’s Anthony’s talking about to apparently pull an imaginary trigger and everything will be fixed the reality is….
ALBANESE: Yes that’s right. You send the signal by indicating that you pull the trigger then you will get action.
PYNE: And at what figure would you set it? When three months ago we were told that there are about 36 petajoules not in the system (inaudible) and this week we were told it was 107 by the regulator. Now on Labor’s logic you would have pulled the trigger at 36 and it would still be about 70 short so in fact Labor is just running a political argument. We’re actually trying to competently fix the problem (inaudible).
ALBANESE: But you’re pretending you haven’t been in Government for years.
PYNE: You’re the ones who allowed the gas to be exported in the first place.
HOST: Without wanting to sound flippant guys, we’re sure that these are important issues and we’ll continue to explore them at a later date but right now we have to keep talking about the football again. We’re crossing over to Melbourne shortly.
PYNE: I’m very relieved about that.
HOST: It’s not that we’re shallow.
ALBANESE: Enjoy your road trip. Leave Eddie alone.
HOST: Tell you what if last Friday was (inaudible) god knows what would happen Saturday if I laid my eyes on the guy. Albo and Chris Pyne, all the best and we’ll chat again next week, hopefully in the happy afterglow of the Crows’ third flag.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.