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Transcript of interview with Kathryn Robinson, Steve Lewis and Claire Harvey: Meet the Press: 25 August 2013: 2013 election

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25 AUGUST 2013


KATHRYN ROBINSON, PRESENTER: Can you paint a picture for me? Post-September 7, what the future will hold for the Greens?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well the Greens are going to go from strength to strength. It’s a - well, of course there’ll be ebb and flows in the political system, but this is the century where the overwhelming challenge is to move to the low-carbon economy, to roll out renewable energy, to look after the environment, in the face of accelerating global warming. So the Greens are going to come into their own with the challenges of this century, but it will ebb and flow. At this election, Australia is moving towards the conservatives, that’s pretty clear. It’s been clear as a trend with State elections in recent times, and so this is going to be a tough election for us. I don’t deny that, but I’m confident we can hold all our seats, and pick up at least one other Senate seat around the country.

STEVE LEWIS: Senator Milne, as you say, it looks as if Tony Abbott is at this stage headed for victory. He said that day one he will repeal the carbon tax. How do the Greens respond to that?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well, day one we won’t be repealing the carbon price, that’s for sure. And that’s why the Greens are needed in the Senate as never before, because Tony Abbott’s only three seats away from effective control of the Senate, and so long as the Greens are there, we will not repeal carbon pricing, because it is absolutely critical to bringing down emissions, and to transforming the economy. It’s the best way of doing that. Business acknowledges that. Nobody supports direct action.

STEVE LEWIS: Do you think Labor would also be likely to oppose the repeal of the carbon tax, which of course they introduced with the Greens’ support?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Yes, I think they’ll oppose it as well. I think-

STEVE LEWIS: Which means we’re likely headed towards a double dissolution election.

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well, that’s where I don’t think that is the case, and I say that because business around the country does not want to see the carbon price abolished. They know full-well emissions trading is the right way to go. They know full-well that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is doing a brilliant job at rolling out large-scale renewables. They are saying it quietly, behind the scenes. They support an Abbott government, but they don’t support an Abbott government repealing emissions trading, and so I think after the election you will see an increasing number of business voices saying back off. Just like Nick Minchin was out this week, saying, oh, there’d have to be compromise in the Senate on paid parental leave. He - and some of the Liberals are relying on the Greens holding balance of power in the Senate to stop the excesses of Tony Abbott.

CLAIRE HARVEY: Senator, you’ve often been one of the few voices speaking out against mining, or raising concerns about mining. Why then have the Greens done a preference deal with Clive Palmer?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well, and that is absolutely right, I am opposed to the Bowen Basin and Galilee Basin proposed mega coal mines and exports and what it will do to the Great Barrier Reef for example, and we have preferenced Clive Palmer. And the reason for that is Liberal, Labor and Clive Palmer all support massive expansion of coal and coal-seam gas. They don’t have a different position on that, but Clive Palmer has a position on refugees - accepting Australia’s international responsibilities and wanting to treat people like people, and his policy is much closer to ours.

CLAIRE HARVEY: Isn’t there - isn’t there a lesson, though, this week from the WikiLeaks party, which has spectacularly imploded over preference deals, really. Don’t your voters expect you to display the same principles on - on the flow of preferences as they do in your own policies?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Ah, well as much as we can, yes, but when you have got a situation - you’ve got both the majors wanting massive increase in coal exports, and so does Clive Palmer, what are you to do in those circumstances? And the other thing is of course the law requires that you lodge a Senate ticket. So it is not as if you can opt out of the process. But I always say to people, vote for the Greens first and then vote for whoever you like regardless of what the tickets say.

CLAIRE HARVEY: How do you feel about what has happened to the WikiLeaks party this week?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Oh, I think it is sad that any new political party on the block, whoever they are, get themselves into such a mess and implode, but that is their issue. What I am pleased about is the recognition that Scott Ludlam has as the most outstanding campaigner for digital rights, and everywhere around the country what it has done is highlighted just what a good job he is doing, and that is why we need him back from WA.

STEVE LEWIS: Christine Milne, if Tony Abbott wins on September 7, what position will the Greens take in terms of negotiating with the Coalition, particularly in the Senate? I mean things like paid parental leave - would you see yourself as basically putting a brake on the excesses of the Coalition or will you basically just putting your hands up and say no, we are going to oppose, oppose, oppose?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well, unlike Tony Abbott, who has spent the last three years opposing everything, the Greens try to work with everyone and improve legislation. And we will improve it with whichever political party we can improve it with. Both the Coalition and the Greens believe that paid parental leave is a workplace right, and I think that is a really good shift in principle that we’ve got to that point. We think his scheme is too generous and so we would work to amend his scheme, to rein it back in-

STEVE LEWIS: To bring it back in from $150,000-

CHRISTINE MILNE: $100,000 - I think $100,000 is a much more reasonable figure and I say that-

STEVE LEWIS: You would probably have quite a lot of support within the Liberal Party for that.

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well, I think so. That’s what I’m saying. I think Nick Minchin will be very pleased when I move for that, because what it means is more than 90% of people would be covered by it and because a substantial sum of it has to come from raising revenue elsewhere, it’s not all going to be paid for with the levy, it is more reasonable, I think, to bring it back to $100,000.