Subjects: Malcolm Turnbull tirade; cuts to family payments; renewable energy; Australia’s energy future.
LISA WILKINSON: Joining me now for our regular Friday chat in Adelaide Christopher Pyne and here in the studio Anthony Albanese. Good morning to both of you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Lisa, good morning Anthony.
WILKINSON: Christopher, I’m going to start with you. Where has this PM been hiding?
PYNE: Well I think the Prime Minister basically just wants to get on with the job of implementing good policy and he has been prepared to ignore Bill Shorten for a long period of time. But Bill spent a lot of the summer describing Malcolm Turnbull as immoral. Now he can hardly complain when Malcolm Turnbull points out that this was the union leader who sold out the workers at Clean Event in exchange for membership lists and cash from the business, when he was the Secretary of the AWU. Some of the lowest paid workers in Australia, of course, cleaners of major events, and yet Bill Shorten certainly wasn’t their friend. So he wants to be the workers’ friend, but on the other hand he is prepared to really rub shoulders with some of the richest people in Australia, while selling out some of the poorest.
WILKINSON: Did you write that speech for the PM?
PYNE: No, I didn’t need to do that.
WILKINSON: It sounded like it when you spoke to Ben Fordham on radio this week.
PYNE: No, no, I simply pointed out that as Leader of the House we need to choose whether we speak on such motions or whether we cut those motions off. We decided that the Prime Minister was prepared to explain a few of the home truths about Bill Shorten, so that we would speak to the motion and I provided Malcolm with some of my material that I keep in my own hands, but all his best lines were his lines.
WILKINSON: That sounds like you wrote that speech for him.
PYNE: No it doesn’t.
WILKINSON: Because you were seen handing him notes before.
PYNE: That’s exactly my job as Leader of the House, to assist to make sure we put our best foot forward, but I can tell you that Malcolm Turnbull was entirely responsible for that speech. I will always help anybody speaking at the dispatch box. The only role I had was deciding we should go ahead with it and speak to it, rather than use our numbers to shut it down.
WILKINSON: All right, well you and the PM were accusing Bill Shorten of hypocrisy and hanging out with billionaires, but this is the same Prime Minister who accrued enormous wealth working for Kerry Packer, and who didn’t blink donating almost $2 million of his own money to get re-elected. Isn’t that hypocrisy right there?
PYNE: Absolutely not. Malcolm Turnbull has worked incredibly hard, he’s done very well. He’s had a lot of luck, as he says himself, and if he wants to give his own money to causes he supports, including the Liberal Party, good luck to him. Bill Shorten on the other hand received a $40,000 donation from Unibilt in 2007 and didn’t remember it until he had to appear in the Royal Commission in 2015. That’s hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is spending $26.5 million of union members money campaigning against the Turnbull and then singing to their tune of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
WILKINSON: Albo, I think a lot of people listening to that speech this week did wonder why Bill Shorten would have spent so much time with billionaires over the year. Can you explain that?
ALBANESE: Well the issue here isn’t who is friends with billionaires. The issue here is why is the Prime Minister wanting to distract from the real issue that was being debated in the Parliament, which was Bill Shorten defending the million Australians who will miss out as a result of the cuts to family payments. Some of the poorest families in our community will be hit by the legislation that is before the Parliament. What Bill Shorten was doing is what Labor always does – stand up for the people who most need assistance from Government. This is a Government that has been prepared to attack those people over and over again. They did it in the 2014 Budget. Now they say they will only give any support for childcare if they take money away from these families who need it. Carers, disability pensioners, aged pensioners will all be hit by this package.
WILKINSON: That’s true isn’t it Christopher?
PYNE: No, it is absolutely untrue. The thing about Labor is that they always have other people’s money to spend. Now on the one hand the Labor Party says we need to get the Government back out of debt and reduce our deficit. On the other hand they went to an election last year promising to increase the deficit by $16.5 billion. What we want to do is expand childcare to the largest in a generation – more affordable, more accessible, especially to low-income workers.
ALBANESE: By cutting the payments that were put in by Howard and Costello. By cutting payments.
PYNE: Under our reforms they will be paying.
ALBANESE: I think you’ve had a fair go this morning Christopher.
PYNE: I didn’t interrupt you Anthony.
ALBANESE: I think you’ve had a fair crack.
PYNE: Well am I allowed to finish or have you taken over the show?
WILKINSON: Just very quickly Christopher, because we have a couple of other subjects we do want to get to.
PYNE: People on the lowest incomes will be paying $15 a day for childcare. At the same time we want to take away a supplement that the Howard Government introduced when we had a $22 billion surplus. Now I don’t know where Labor’s money tree is …
ALBANESE: A supplement that people rely on.
PYNE: …but I haven’t been able to find it. The Howard Government introduced a supplement when the times were booming and we had a $22 billion surplus. Well we don’t any more, thanks to Labor.
WILKINSON: All right, let’s move on. We have to talk about this energy crisis gripping South Australia. Now the Prime Minister is blaming the state’s renewable energy targets for this weeks blackouts. Albo, I will go to you, Jay Weatherill’s Labor Government is pushing for a target of 50% renewable energy by 2025. Bill Shorten believes 2030 is more realistic. The PM has labelled them insanity and it seems residents agree.
ALBANESE: Well I tell you what Lisa, the issue at the moment, where you are about to get the hottest day and days that we have seen for some time in Sydney, the electricity here we are being warned might be turned off between 5.30 and 7.30 for many people. There is an issue with the warming of the planet and what you have is a Government that is prepared to play politics with all of this. What happened in South Australia this week was that at Pelican Point the gas-fired distributor wasn’t turned on. It could have been turned on and that was a decision of the national regulator, which is responsible to the national Minister Josh Frydenberg. It wasn’t turned on and instead of examining why that occurred, what you had was a Government that once again just played politics.
WILKINSON: Final word Christopher.
PYNE: Well the Labor Party are living in a parallel universe. The reality is that in South Australia before Labor’s obsession with renewable energy at the expense of base load power, before they helped shut down the Northern Power Station, we didn’t have four blackouts in six months, that wiped out the entire state on one occasion with 1.7 million without power. The truth is what’s changed is Labor’s obsession here with the renewable energy target, which is vastly in excess of what is realistic. I support renewable energy, but you have to have base load power, otherwise you won’t have jobs, you won’t have businesses and in the end the economy just simply will not operate and that is what is happening in South Australia.
ALBANESE: You had it at Pelican Point, Christopher, and you know that’s the case.
WILKINSON: Meanwhile, residents of New South Wales and South Australia have their fingers crossed today that they are not going to get hit by that shocking heatwave, particularly if that blackout happens.
ALBANESE: And meanwhile, 2016 was the hottest year on record. The second hottest year was 2015. There just could be something in the climate change stuff.
WILKINSON: And those are not alternative facts. Those are real facts.
ALBANESE: They’re real.
WILKINSON: Albo, thank you for that and to you Christopher, thank you, have a great weekend both of you.
ALBANSE: Thank you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.