Subjects: Energy prices, Trump-Kim summit, weapons sales, South Sydney Rabbitohs.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Christopher, to you first of all. Is your signature energy policy going to guarantee 24-7 power at internationally competitive prices or not, because it doesn’t look like it.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Karl, I have to say that energy prices are actually starting to come down. The pressure on the rises in power prices has eased. Today there will be an announcement about prices actually being reduced in some states. In other states they are flat-lining because of the National Energy Guarantee, releasing more gas into the market, the Snowy Hydro Scheme coming on, putting a great deal more pressure on electricity companies, the prices actually are actually stabilising or reducing. Sure, we want it to do better and there needs to more pressure on energy companies. But it is not true that we have done nothing. We have done a lot, and actually things are changing whereas under Labor, they went up 100 per cent in the time that they were there.
STEFANOVIC: The front page of the Daily Telegraph today has the sort of story that will rock Australians I reckon. We produce huge amounts of natural gas, that’s a given. Get this: AGL first decides to sell our gas overseas; now it is going to import it – import it – and sell it back to us at a time when prices are internationally rising. Have you ever heard of anything more ridiculous?
PYNE: Well I haven’t seen that story Karl. But I can tell you what Malcolm Turnbull did last year sitting down with Josh Frydenberg and the gas companies was require them to put more gas into the market, to put controls from the Government over the export of gas, and that has had a big difference in the gas market, particularly the wholesale gas market.
STEFANOVIC: You’ve got some dramas there. Ablo, renewables aren’t able to do it according to Australia’s biggest aluminium producer this morning. Will your policy lead to lower energy prices or not?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, the fact is that what we need is certainty in the market. When Christopher said they have been doing a lot, they have. They have had one policy, then another policy, then another one, then another one and what has happened is we haven’t had the investment and that is as a result of the Government a lot of the time campaigning within themselves. They haven’t been able to agree. They asked for a Chief Scientist’s report then they rejected it ….
STEFANOVIC: But there’s no certainty in prices because there is no certainty with renewables.
ALBANESE: Well, renewables are part of the future. We know that that is the case and the Government has had to acknowledge that. They have had a war on renewables …
ALBANESE: And what that led to was uncertainty, a lack of investment and higher prices as well as higher emissions.
STEFANOVIC: Confidence in the market is at an all-time low. Customers are saying this morning that prices offered are worse value for money than banking and mobile phones. You did say you were going to fix it.
PYNE: We are fixing it, and I can tell you the Snowy Hydro Scheme #2 that we are investing in is the largest investment in renewables in the Southern Hemisphere because we have an agnostic view. We are not particularly pro one or particularly pro another kind of energy production …
STEFANOVIC: You don’t like coal anymore?
PYNE: We are happy to have coal as well, as long as they are providing baseload power, which they are, renewables, coal …
ALBANESE: You fiddled around for five years Christopher.
PYNE: … gas, and we’ve done a great job at stabilising the market after it went up 100 per cent under Labor.
ALBANESE: You haven’t even stabilised yourselves.
STEFANOVIC: All right, you have to continue trying to work harder at that because this is one of the biggest issues facing the Australian electorate and a lot of people in this cold, cold winter will start to really struggle with their power bills and they will start to lay the blame game as well. Let’s move on, an historic week, I just wonder Chris, when will Julie be heading to Pyongyang with her hard hat on to start sorting out Kim Jong-un. Un needs to be sorted out and we need to start denuking as well. When is she going to do that?
PYNE: What has been good this week is that there has been a proper dialogue between the United States and North Korea and North Korea is committed to denuclearisation. We obviously want to see, and Julie Bishop has quite rightly said we want to see, real, concrete moves toward denuclearisation, not simply statements of intent. But I think we have made real progress this week because of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un’s meeting, but we want to see the truth of the outcome, not just the announcement, and I think that is what Julie Bishop has been saying and she is right to say it.
STEFANOVIC: Albo, do you trust Donald Trump?
ALBANESE: I think it is a good thing that both Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are sitting down …
STEFANOVIC: You are avoiding the question.
ALBANESE: … and coming up with constructive ways forward rather than tweeting and arguing with each other and I think Julie Bishop is playing a really good role as well in pointing out that we need is those concrete steps, not just statements.
STEFANOVIC: Very good. Moving on Christopher, you went on a trip to Paris, to gay Paris over the last week selling Australian weapons. Some wonderful photos of you on the Interweb.
PYNE: The Intertube? Yes.
STEFANOVIC: There he is, just a young man just doing his thing overseas selling our hardwares, our military hardwares. Honestly, eat your heart out Demtel man. Did you manage to sell the steak knives as well?
PYNE: Well we have a huge emphasis on our defence exports at the moment from this Government Karl in a way that we have never had before and we are making real progress into Europe, the Middle East, the United States. That’s creating jobs, higher wages and investment in our economy and that is what it is all about. We have got some great things to talk to them about.
STEFANOVIC: How was the escargot, tiger?
PYNE: I didn’t have any escargot. I’m not sure what is going on over there. I can’t see your screen but nevertheless …
ALBANESE: That’s a good thing Christopher.
PYNE: I’m sure it is. My photos are always great.
STEFANOVIC: I am sure it is. Would you buy a rocket launcher off Christopher?
ALBANESE: I’d check my pockets.
STEFANOVIC: That’s uncharitable.
ALBANESE: He’s over there, living it up, but good on him.
PYNE: Living the dream. Left Saturday night and got back Wednesday afternoon – 42 hours in planes for a day and half or something.
STEFANOVIC: Just feeling the joie de vivre.
ALBANESE: I went to Homebush last night to see Souths smash Parramatta.
PYNE: It’s nice to have you in the country for a change. Why aren’t you in Braddon, Longman or Burt? Why aren’t you campaigning all around Australia like you usually do?
ALBANESE: I was watching my Rabbitohs.
STEFANOVIC: You went to Paris, I went to Homebush. I love these two.
PYNE: He’s usually in Braddon, Longman, anywhere else other than your own electorate.
ALBANESE: There’s nowhere better than Homebush when the Bunnies are winning.
STEFANOVIC: You should take Christopher out for a look.
ALBANESE: You should come to the rugby league Christopher.
PYNE: I am big out in Homebush I have to tell you. You would be surprised, you would be surprised.
ALBANESE: You would go well in the Burrow mate. They would sort you out.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.