Mar 23, 2016

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa with David Penberthy and Will Goodings

Subjects: Brussels attacks, national security, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission; Tony Abbott; ABCC

PRESENTER: And as always, as two tribes go to war the ever reliable Anthony Albanese joins us. Albo, good morning.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day! I’m always distracted by that song because it’s such a great song. Sort of – dancing away here, you know, in Devonport, Tasmania. Greetings.

PRESENTER: Mate. Bit of a music buff aren’t you, Albo. You memorably programmed Rage about a year ago. That must have been a huge honour.

ALBANESE: It was the highlight of my Deputy Prime Ministership!

PRESENTER: And on the line also the federal Resources Minister, Josh FRYDENBERG in place of Christopher Pyne this morning. Minister, good morning.

JOSH FRYDENBERG: Good morning, nice to be with you, and g’day Albo.

ALBANESE: G’day Josh. Where’s Pyney?

PRESENTER: He’s off for a couple of weeks. Readying himself for an election campaign I expect.

ALBANESE: It’s on. Someone should tell him. Let him know Josh. It’s on!

FRYDENBERG: Well, we’re hoping this legislation goes back through the Parliament, Albo.

ALBANESE: No you’re not!

FRYDENBERG: With your support Albo, it will.

ALBANESE: No you’re not.

PRESENTER: Before we have a stink about matters of a domestic nature, we’re duty-bound to start the segment by asking you both about the situation in Brussels overnight.

The Prime Minister this morning, Josh Frydenberg, he has said that there will be no elevation in the terror warning here in Australia and that people should keep living their lives as they do.

But do you think in light of the fact that we’ve seen airports targeted, railway services targeted, that there could be a rethink and a muscling up of the types of security measures we have in place here?

FRYDENBERG: Well, I think the Prime Minister makes those statements on the basis of the best available evidence to him by our professional law enforcement and intelligence authorities and I know they’re doing everything to protect Australia.

As a government we’re proud of the fact we’ve got through five tranches of counter terrorism legislation, that our military personnel are engaged in Iraq at the moment, trying to defeat ISIS as part of an international coalition, but we are very obviously concerned about domestic threats and that’s why we’ll continue to take the best possible advice from our agencies in regard to what our threat level should be and whatever measures we need to take.

PRESENTER: To you Albo, you’re one of the most senior figures on the left of politics in Australia. You know, your left wing credentials go back to the seventies when you were fighting it out in Sydney.

ALBANESE: I’m not that old!

PRESENTER: Eighties. Eighties! Sorry mate. I added a couple of decades to you there. But look, despite your sort of pedigree, you’ve been really vocal in the past about how maybe we need to embrace a more muscular brand of liberalism, have called for the banning of organisations like Hizb ut-Tahrir, an unarmed version of ISIS.

Do you think we still need to do more to stop organisations in our country that advocate in the name of violent jihad but stop short of actually practicing it?

ALBANESE: Well, there’s nothing progressive about these fascists. They’re about destroying our way of life. They’re about attacking us for who we are and we’ve seen just how once again how evil this ideology is, and that’s what it is.

It’s an ideology that says anyone who is different is our enemy and is fair game. That is their approach and I think we have to have a very firm resolve against these groups whether they’re in Australia or internationally.

We need to be very clear and send a very clear message about our resolve and today of course, we need to express solidarity with the people of Belgium and those who’ve been either killed or hurt by this atrocity.

PRESENTER: I wonder if we could just switch attention for a moment to matters, I guess an issue that’s being hotly debated in South Australia but at some point in time that’s going to become part of the federal conversation.

Of course, this is about the prospect of a nuclear waste storage facility, a high level waste storage facility being constructed on the back of what was a fairly positive review put by the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission’s interim report about the economic benefit to South Australia.

There was a slightly contrary report put out yesterday by The Australia Institute which painted a fair less rosy picture about the prospect of importing waste and storing it here in South Australia. Josh Frydenberg, you’re the Energy Minister, the Resources Minister. Which report do you think is closer to the mark?

FRYDENBERG: Well I think the Weatherill Government should be congratulated for commissioning Kevin Scarce to do this major report, the Royal Commission itself into all aspects of a nuclear fuel cycle and judging from the interim findings there does seem to be a strong case for considering the storage of high level waste in Australia.

But obviously it would need a bipartisan degree of political support as well as a broad community consensus and I have noticed that views have changed particularly in South Australia as they look to new industries to create the jobs that your state needs.

The fact is that Kevin Scarce indicated that the storage of high level waste could be worth up to $5 billion a year, create 500 jobs and be an industry for the future.

So that to me is the right way to be thinking about these issues but we are a long way away from a final decision at either a state level or a federal level to go down this path. But it’s certainly an interesting development and the South Australian Government should be congratulated.

PRESENTER: To you Albo, we’re seeing an interesting phenomenon on the state political level, a fracturing within the state Labor Party, there’s a breakaway group that have been invited into Parliament to speak to MPs – people like The Australia Institute. Is the federal Labor Party or the federal Labor movement united in its openness or opposition to the potential for high level storage?

ALBANESE: I think people are always open to rational debate and that’s what taking place here. People have different views and that’s the truth. You should have a proper debate about the facts and the benefits, but also the costs of any proposal such as this.

I myself, historically, have been very sceptical and remain so about any further involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle. But that doesn’t mean that I rule out any engagement and I think the contribution of The Australia Institute is a positive one and there should be other contributions as well.

This has to be thought through properly and that’s why Jay Weatherill did the right thing by asking for a comprehensive study such as he did.

PRESENTER: To you Josh Frydenberg, on the question of election timing, we saw this quite uncomfortable situation a couple of days ago where at the same time that Malcolm Turnbull was trying to extoll the achievements and the agenda of his government you had Tony Abbott on Sky News at the same time saying that the Turnbull Government is effectively in a policy sense still the Abbott Government.

How hard is it going to be for you guys going into an election campaign with what is starting to look a bit like what is Rudd-esque sniping from the sidelines?

FRYDENBERG: Well, obviously I’d dispute the premise of what you’ve just said because I think that everyone understands that when you change leaders as both the Labor Party, and the Coalition have done, there’s going to be elements of continuity and change in the policy.

When we talk about the continuity, we’ve seen the free trade agreements that Tony Abbott helped drive with Andrew Robb with China, Japan and Korea which are now creating real benefits for the Australian economy in terms of job growth and investment.

At the same time, Malcolm Turnbull’s put his own stamp on the Prime Ministership with major announcements around innovation, backing small business, against big business with changes to competition policy, Section 46.

Taking on vested interests with major media reform, which again had been in the too-hard basket for too long. And obviously the Defence White Paper which will see hundreds of millions of dollars if not billions of dollars of new investment in South Australia which is a very positive development too.

There is going to be elements of continuity from Tony Abbott’s Prime Ministership but there’s also a new look to his team under Malcolm Turnbull and there are some important new policy initiatives too.

PRESENTER: Finally to you Albo, do you think that Malcolm Turnbull is going to be able to land some hits on Labor by fighting the election on industrial relations given some of the more unseemly evidence that we’ve seen in relation to some unpleasant characters from the CFMEU and so forth?

ALBANESE: Well, the problem for him of course with the ABCC legislation that he is saying is so important is that it doesn’t deal with criminality. Criminality is dealt with by the Crimes Act, and by the police. And it should be dealt with.

What we have here is a government that doesn’t have an agenda. That can’t even manage the way the Parliament is run. We’ve just sat for five weeks out of seven.

Five weeks out of seven where the government that controls the agenda in the House of Reps and the Senate actively avoided debate on industrial relations. Its big priority wasn’t doing something for your listeners. It was doing something for itself in terms of the Senate reform legislation.

In five weeks, no mention at all and then we’re brought back to Parliament early because this is a government without an agenda, without a plan, without an idea. They’ve even taken their slogan, “continuity with change” from Veep, the US sitcom series.

I mean, it is bizarre and they are getting sniped at from the sidelines by Tony Abbott and I would expect that that will continue because there’s so much frustration within the government about what happened with Tony Abbott and the fact that people were saying around the corridors last week, ‘I don’t know why we changed leader because this bloke doesn’t seem to have a plan’.

PRESENTER: Okay, thank you for that. Anthony Albanese and Federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg joining us as two tribes go to war.