Feb 17, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects: George Christensen, RET, Nick Xenophon, Gold Pass

STEFANOVIC: We are ringside people. It’s been another trying week in Parliament, not just for the Government. Joining me now is Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese. Who is going to win this bout today? Morning Christopher. Morning Anthony.

ALBANESE: Good morning.

PYNE: Good morning Karl. Good morning Anthony.

ALBANESE: Nice new intro.

STEFANOVIC: Thank you. Yes, I’ve just sort of (inaudible) things up a little bit. Is the Coalition ok this morning Christopher? I just want to know in light of George Christensen saying he might go rogue. Are you all ok?

PYNE: Well he hasn’t said that, and look that’s just another typical beat up from the media. George has confirmed that he’s remaining within the Coalition. He’s a valued colleague. He’s making a great contribution and the Coalition’s had a terrific week. Labor is skidding all over the place about their 50 per cent renewable energy target. They can’t tell us how much it’s going to cost consumers, or how much it’s going to cost the budget. And they’re even trying to crab-walk away from it, because it’s costing Australians higher electricity prices and, of course, more unstable power.

STEFANOVIC: Are you sure he didn’t say that about going rogue: I’m not afraid to go rogue?

PYNE: George is not going anywhere. He’s a valued member of the Coalition. He’s the Whip in the National Party, in the House of Representatives…

STEFANOVIC: He did say it though, quote, quote; I am not afraid to go rogue.

PYNE: Look we’re not going to be distracted Karl. I’m not going to be distracted Karl.

STEFANOVIC: It’s what he said.

PYNE: The bottom line is we are getting on with the job. Labor has a renewable energy target which will smash the economy, smash jobs…

ALBANESE: It’s page one of the newspaper, Christopher. You can’t, you lost one member…

PYNE: Of the Daily Telegraph.

ALBANESE: So it doesn’t matter. Is that what you’re saying?

PYNE: Well The Daily Telegraph loves a bit of a beat up, and they do a good job of it and I can tell you George Christensen is not going anywhere…

STEFANOVIC: Are they fake news?

PYNE: Labor are the ones with the problems this week. Bill Shorten and his Shadow Treasurer can’t tell people how much the renewable energy target is going to cost families or the budget.

ALBANESE: You lost Cory Bernadi last week, and this week you’ve got George Christensen writing out his resignation letter, ready to join the cross bench, which would cost you your majority on the floor of the House of Representatives.

STEFANOVIC: It’s a significant story.

ALBANESE: I know you can’t win votes now; imagine how bad you’d be if George Christensen sat on the cross bench.

PYNE: Voters aren’t interested in your inside the beltway stories, Anthony.

ALBANESE: What, whether you have a majority or not?

PYNE: They want to know how much your RET…

ALBANESE: I think they are.

PYNE: Is going to cost them as consumers and the budget. That’s what they want to know, because that’s what matters. Electricity prices and stable power for businesses and households.

STEFANOVIC: On stable power, it looks like Nick Xenophon has some dramas of his own. Is that deal now off with Nick Xenophon, Christopher?

PYNE: Well we are; you mean with respect to child care in the Senate?

STEFANOVIC: In respect to also welfare and Medicare levy; is that deal now off?

PYNE: Well we are very sensibly, if we are putting up a spending proposal like making child care more affordable and accessible, we’re also…

STEFANOVIC: No, but is that deal off?

PYNE: Can I answer the question? We’re also putting up savings measures. Now, we’ll negotiate with the Senate and I think Nick Xenophon needs to come to the table and negotiate with us as he says he will because we want to make child care more accessible and more affordable for families, but we’re not simply going to add it to the budget bottom line like Labor would.

STEFANOVIC: So the Medicare levy goes up though?

PYNE: No that’s his proposal, it’s not our proposal.

STEFANOVIC: Ok, how are you going to pay for it then, the NDIS?

PYNE: The NDIS? Well we’ve said that we will fund the NDIS. We’ve found the money; Labor didn’t. They left a black hole for the NDIS. We believe in it, we’re committed to it, and that’s why we’re putting up savings measures like getting rid of the supplement paid to people that was for the carbon tax, when there isn’t a carbon tax. That’s just not common sense to keep paying a supplement.

STEFANOVIC: So you won’t be raising taxes though, you won’t be raising taxes?

PYNE: No, we’re trying to reduce corporate tax, like we’ve reduced income tax.

STEFANOVIC: You won’t raise taxes?

PYNE: No and we have no plans to raise taxes Karl, that’s why we’re proposing a corporate tax cut.

ALBANESE: They can’t get their legislation through the Parliament and this week we saw them threaten…

PYNE: We got the gold pass through last night.

ALBANESE: You’ve had a crack Christopher; you might want to turn up here. So what we had was the NDIS threatened, then we had a range of new taxes suggested that that was going to be moved. This is a Government that simply can’t govern.

STEFANOVIC: Ok you’ve lost the 50 per cent renewable energy target. That’s now gone, is that right?

ALBANESE: That’s not right at all. Look, we have…

STEFANOVIC: Is this more fake news?

ALBANESE: No, what there is…

STEFANOVIC: It’s front page of The Australian.

ALBANESE: What there is there is something that is very specific; a renewable energy target in terms of legislation that’s a subsidy for renewable energy. You know what’s happening Karl? Renewable energy is now becoming the cheapest form of energy so it doesn’t require the sort of subsidies that were there in terms of the electricity market.

STEFANOVIC: So it’s no longer 50 per cent?

ALBANESE: We are absolutely aiming for 50 per cent by 2030. That’s our target. The current Government has a target of 23 per cent by 2020, but they have nothing beyond that. But what is happening in the energy market is that renewables are becoming cheaper, coal is the most expensive form, the way that it is going, particularly, clean coal…

STEFANOVIC: The system is not coping in some parts as well…

ALBANESE: Absolutely, which is why the energy sector is saying what we need is an emissions intensity scheme to drive that change through the market, through the market.

STEFANOVIC: We have to get through this final one, last night in the Senate it ended the MPs entitlements, what about this; for free flights when you all retire. The Prime Minister, however, will still keep their gold pass, but for the rest of you, unless you become Prime Minister, either one of you, in the next little bit, there’s not going to be any free flights.

ALBANESE: Well we all voted for it.

STEFANOVIC: Is it still a bit upsetting?

PYNE: We supported that Karl.

STEFANOVIC: Why did it take you so long, if it’s such a good idea?

PYNE: Well we tried to do it under the Abbott Government, but we couldn’t get the support through the Senate. The truth is the last thing I’m going to want to do when I retire from Parliament is get back on a plane. I can tell you that right now.

ALBANESE: Except to come and see us.

PYNE: That’s true.

STEFENOVIC: So you’re all fine with it. Have you been in touch with the good people at Qantas yet?


STEFANOVIC: Getting free flights.

ALBANESE: No, I’m not interested either; I was just wondering the context there.

STEFANOVIC: No┬áthere’s no context.

PYNE: Channel Nine will have to fly me to Sydney to come and visit you instead.

STEFANOVIC: All right, it’s done then.

ALBANESE: When we’re two old blokes, like the two old people on the Muppet Show, sitting here commenting on how hopeless the 2030 generation of politicians are…

PYNE: In the balcony.

STEFANOVIC: I remember when Pyne and I used to tear (inaudible)…

PYNE: The good old days.

ALBANESE: The golden era.

PYNE: In the good old days.

STEFANOVIC: Good to see you.