Oct 6, 2017

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

BEN FORDHAM: Welcome back to Today, well the horrific events in Las Vegas have once again put gun control on the agenda here in Australia. Bill Shorten is calling for the government to extend a national gun amnesty until the end of the year and impose tougher sentences on gun smugglers. Joining us, Anthony Albanese from the Labor Party, Christopher Pyne from the Liberal Party, thank you very much.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Ben.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you Ben.

FORDHAM: Christopher let’s start off with you, the gun amnesty, the Turnbull Government introduced one this year, very successful, went for three months, lots of weapons handed in. Labor’s come up with a fair point saying okay, in the wake of Vegas, let’s have another one.

PYNE: Well look the gun amnesty’s been a great success and it’s done exactly the job that it was meant to do. We have a bill before the parliament right now for mandatory minimum sentences which Bill Shorten and the Greens are opposing. So it really takes a great amount of audacity to call for tougher sentences when you’re actually opposing tougher sentences in the parliament right now.

FORDHAM: I’ll take that up with Albo in just a moment, but just tell me, on the gun amnesty, it was very successful for three months, we’ve now had Vegas, have another one.

PYNE: Well we’ve just had a gun amnesty, so all the guns that would’ve been handed in, in the last three months have been handed in. Just extending the amnesty is not actually going to solve the problem.

FORDHAM: You don’t think that off the back of what we’ve seen in Vegas in the last week that more people would be compelled to hand in more weapons?

PYNE: I don’t think so, no, I think what would be a more useful thing to do, since we already have great gun laws here, they are not the same as the United States, would be for the Labor Party to support the bill the government already has before the parliament for tougher sentences for firearm offences, for smuggling guns, which Bill Shorten supported when he was in government, when he was a senior minister in government, and he’s now opposing in opposition.

FORDHAM: Let me take that up with Albo right now, now he makes a fair point, Christopher, on mandatory minimum sentences, because Bill Shorten’s come out and said, righto, we want tougher sentences for gun smugglers. The Labor Party has supported mandatory minimum sentences for people smugglers, why not gun smugglers?

ALBANESE: We do want tougher sentences, and one of the things that we’ve said that there should be is up to a life sentence for gun smugglers, but we’ve also said, as a second constructive proposal put forward in the wake of Las Vegas, is that it makes common sense to extend the gun amnesty. It has been successful but we know there are 600,000 illegal firearms still out there. In the wake of Vegas, what harm is there in extending the amnesty and trying to collect a few thousand more.

FORDHAM: Very quickly, mandatory minimum sentences, you’re doing it for people smugglers, why not gun smugglers?

ALBANESE: Judges decide sentences, if we have politicians deciding the actual sentences rather than…

FORDHAM: Bill Shorten’s come out yesterday saying life sentences.

ALBANESE: Yeah but not mandatory, life sentence should be available for people who have engaged in gun smuggling, that is a sensible proposition; we think the Government should take it up.

FORDHAM: Okay, we’ve got two more topics so let’s keep the answers brief. We’re facing an uncertain summer with concerns about power blackouts and fears that lives will be at risk if the elderly are left without air conditioning. Albo, Bill Shorten wouldn’t commit yesterday on radio to standing by that 50% renewable energy target. Are you guys crab walking away from that, are you getting cold feet?

ALBANESE: No we’re not at all. What we are saying is that there needs to be certainty, the Government had the Finkel Review from the Chief Scientist. He put forward recommendations, why doesn’t the Government get on with the Clean Energy Target.

FORDHAM: Okay Christopher, Bill Shorten is being labelled Blackout Bill by you guys, saying it’ll be his fault if the lights go out this summer. But you’re in government, you’ve been in government for a long time, it’ll be on you if the lights go out this summer won’t it? And also what’s happened to Malcolm Turnbull’s halving of gas prices that he was talking about a few months ago, that hasn’t happened.

PYNE: Well Ben, Labor’s all over the shop on energy policy and that’s the dangerous thing about it. The problem we’re facing now about gas is because Labor allowed the gas companies to export as much gas as they wanted to, they didn’t put any controls in place. We’ve changed that, and the gas companies have said they will make sure there is enough gas for the domestic supply over the next 12 months. The reality is that we have an all of the above, practical approach. Renewable energies, wind, solar, coal, gas, and Labor of course just want to have much more renewables; they want to close down the coal fired power stations before we’re ready.

ALBANESE: That’s nonsense.

PYNE: You do! You have a policy to close down the coal fired power stations. That’s your policy.

ALBANESE: Why don’t you adopt what the Chief Scientist said you should do? You’re the Government.

PYNE: You’re always talking in riddles all the time. The reality is that we want an all of the above approach, you have an obsession with renewable power, we can have both, but you don’t want both, you want to close down the coal fired power stations before we’re ready to move to renewable energy.

ALBANESE: That’s nonsense, you’re full of rhetoric, and the problem with this mob is that they’ve actually been in government for four and a half years, and they’re pretending they’ve been in government for four and a half minutes.

PYNE: Gas prices have come down because of the Government’s policies.

ALBANESE: They’ve halved have they? Malcolm Turnbull said he would halve gas prices. That has not happened.

PYNE: Well under you they went up a 100%, so you doubled them.

ALBANESE: That has not happened.

FORDHAM: I didn’t expect that you would agree on that and you haven’t disappointed, have a lovely weekend Christopher, thank you Albo. They’ll be back next Friday.