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Transcript of interview with Peter Van Onselen: SKY News, To the point: 13 July 2017: political attacks on science; energy; Donald Trump; Labor policy on two state solution in the Middle East

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SUBJECT/S: Political attacks on science, Energy, Donald Trump, Labor policy on two state solution in the Middle East.

PETER VAN ONSELEN: As promised earlier, we are joined by Labor frontbencher, Amanda Rishworth, live from Adelaide. Thanks very much for your company.


ONSELEN: We are going to hear from Mark Butler later on this afternoon for a formal Labor response, but what is your reaction to Craig Kelly’s comments that the renewable energy approach could actually cost lives?

RISHWORTH: Craig Kelly has once again been absolutely ridiculous and irresponsible in his comments. This is the same individual that said renewable energy also causes more drownings in Australia. I mean, what Craig Kelly hasn’t done is actually look at how we need to transition our economy, how we reduce energy prices- he hasn’t had a proper look at the Finkel Review and I think what he should do is rather than spouting off at the mouth- which he seems to do at a pretty regular basis- he should actually take a considered approach and look at the role renewable energy- importantly- has to play in Australia’s future; the jobs it creates. The other thing I would say about Craig Kelly is; this isn’t just some backbencher mouthing off, it actually is the Chair of the Coalition’s Energy Policy Committee. I mean, if that is the ideological approach he takes- and the ridiculous statements he makes in terms of renewable energy- then what hope is there for the Coalition to take climate change, energy policy and actually doing the important thing of reducing the energy prices seriously?

VAN ONSELEN: That said though- Ms. Rishworth- I mean the Minister, Josh Frydenberg has slapped down- for want of a better term or phrase- Craig Kelly on a number of occasions, not so much on this but on other things that he has said despite his chairmanship of that particular Committee, so it is not as though the

executive arm of the Government is being held hostage to the views of what we might call a maverick backbench.

RISHWORTH: If Minister Frydenberg wasn’t being held hostage, than why isn’t he adopting the Finkel Review recommendations? We saw him being held hostage by this group within the Coalition, Josh Frydenberg immediately ruled out an Emission Intensity Scheme to be considered by the Finkel Review. We now have a Clean Energy Target recommendation; that is something that Labor has said; we will work in bipartisan with you to give some certainty in the area. Josh Frydenberg has said; oh, we are not so sure, we will have to consider it, because he is being held hostage by the likes of Craig Kelly. Where is the Prime Minister today slapping down the likes of Craig Kelly? Why haven’t we heard from him, we haven’t heard from Josh Frydenberg, we haven’t seen real action on the Finkel Review. And, from all reports; the states are going to go it alone if this Federal Government doesn’t act.

VAN ONSELEN: What do you think about this story on the front page of The Australian, ‘The Turnbull Government will demand that Victoria and the Northern Territory lift their bands on onshore gas development’, all part of trying to create more security in that space.

RISHWORTH: If the Government was really serious about gas exploration in this country they would work with communities to build confidence in that exploration. Instead, what we have seen despite the Government not taking any serious action on lifting what is an investment strike on energy investment in this country, without having actually setting the policy parameters to encourage investment, we see the Government really picking fights with the states and territories. This is a long way from what we need. We need responsible leadership that builds consensus in this country. We need a Government that will take all areas of the energy sector seriously, including looking seriously at a Clean Energy Target- that is the basic premise of what needs to happen at the Energy Minister’s meeting tomorrow. Instead, we have the Minister trying to say, there is nothing to see here instead I am just going to bully the states.

VAN ONSELEN: We are just going to take some of Mark Butler’s presser now Amanda Rishworth, please stay with us.


VAN ONSELEN: What do you think Amanda Rishworth- Labor frontbencher- that is a bit extreme isn’t it? Calling for the sacking of a Chair of a Committee, Committee’s and their findings and their Chairs and their positioning is separate from the executive arm of Government.

RISHWORTH: It might be separate, but what type of message does it send to the country? I mean, we have so much division within the Liberal Party, so much confusion about what the Liberal Party’s position is when it comes to energy policy- we have the ability for the Government not to act- it seems if the Minister and the Prime Minister won’t act, it would be good if some of the backbenches would stand up and show leadership in this. Instead, we have got someone who is a Chair of a Committee, just adding to the outrageous comments and the inaccurate comments

of the impact of renewable energy. I think it sends a very very bad message to the rest of the country, a country that is begging for some responsible action when it comes to energy policy, something that will drive down prices in the medium term, but of course, instead we have Craig Kelly shooting at the hip again and not actually putting accurate information into the public domain.

VAN ONSELEN: Just on a few other issues, this one-separate and away from Australian politics- do you think- and I mean there is a lot going on at the White House with Donald Trump and the criticisms over in the U.S. in particular about him, we have heard some pretty strong comments from Bill Shorten about him, I think Josh Frydenberg called him a drop kick at some point in time- do you think that he is psychologically fit to be U.S. President?

RISHWORTH: I can’t answer about his psychology; I may have been a clinical psychologist back in the day-

VAN ONSELEN: - I was about to jump in on that. You are a clinical psychologist by training, with significant qualifications in that space and might I say internationally recognised publications, so, in the sense that there is any politician that can weigh in and offer us a psychological assessment of Donald Trump from the political class, it is you, Amanda Rishworth- that is why I am asking.

RISHWORTH: Look, I have been non-practicing for many years, since I have been in politics, so while I am still a registered psychologist- I am non-practising. I am not able to give diagnosis out here but obviously the President is facing a range of issues on the home front, as well as abroad and the test will be for him in the future and how he manages that. And, whether he is able to bring- as America has historically been a world leader- is he able to bring the world together for western values and democracy?

VAN ONSELEN: With your expertise though- Amanda Rishworth - is he showing signs of not coping with the enormity of the job?

RISHWORTH: I could not possibly comment on that being so far away-


RISHWORTH: I would like to get him on a couch, in a room with me- I think that would be fascinating- but as of yet I have not had that opportunity.

VAN ONSELEN: Maybe we can turn that into a reality television show- if anyone in the U.S. picks this interview- we have got a fully trained clinical psychologist here in Australia prepared to do a study of Donald Trump that would be fascinating. Let’s get to some other issues before we run out of time. Ex-Labor leader Kim Beasley- reported by Greg Sheridan, the foreign editor in The Australian- has savaged a proposed resolution that the NSW branch of the Labor Party are considering, calling for a future Labor Government to extend unconditional and immediate diplomatic recognition of a state for Palestine. I talked to Bob Carr about this earlier in the week. Is this something that federal Labor is likely to adopt?

RISHWORTH: At the moment Labor’s position is very clear. Our platform at the moment as it stands is; we would like to see a two-state solution, that has been our long standing policy for a long time. That involves letting Israel to live securely within its borders and for Palestine to have its own state as well. What we have said in our platform is that we want to see that progressed and whatever measures we can take to see that progressed is very important. I think going forward this is what we are going to work towards- as a country, as a world community- seeing and realising a two-state solution.

VAN ONSELEN: Amanda Rishworth, always appreciate you joining us. Thanks for your company again today.

RISHWORTH: Thank you.