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Transcript of interview with Oliver Peterson: 6PR Perth: 3 April 2018: energy policy; Newspoll; company tax; wages

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Subjects: Energy policy, Newspoll, company tax, wages.

OLIVER PETERSON: It is time to bring in the Odd Couple - Christopher Pyne and

Anthony Albanese. Christopher, good afternoon to you first.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Ollie, thank you very much for having us.

PETERSON: Now I think we have got Anthony Albanese back from his quick trip to

London aboard the Dreamliner with Qantas. Albo are you back in Australia?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I am back indeed mate.

PETERSON: You are back. Anthony Albanese is back. Christopher Pyne we might ask

you first this afternoon: the Monash Forum - is there a group of disgruntled backbenchers

amongst yourselves in the Liberals and the Nationals wanting to tap the Prime Minister on

the shoulder and ask him to sort out the energy crisis?

PYNE: Well no there isn’t. But there is a group of people who are interested in policy

development around energy and that is a very good thing. These kinds of various groups

or journals have been going forever. I started one called the Conservatives for an

Australian Head of State during the republic debate because I wanted there to be a

republic and there has been these kinds of different policy forums for ever in politics. I

mean the Labor Party have got them. They are called the Left, the Right and the Centre

Left and the Left Right Out. They’ve got their own various groups that discuss policy and

we should as well. So I don’t see any harm in it at all. We have the National Energy

Guarantee. What this group wants is for coal to be given as good a chance as any other

form of energy to provide lower prices and reliable power and we agree with that. So the

good thing about the National Energy Guarantee is it is quite agnostic about what type of

energy supplies Australian households and businesses, whether it is hydro or water or

solar or wind or coal or gas for that matter.

PETERSON: Anthony Albanese. Do you suggest that this particular group is only

interested in sorting out Australia’s energy position?

ALBANESE: If only that were the case, Christopher thinks. The fact is that this is about

undermining renewable energy, a growth that is a global phenomenon, not just something

that is happening in Australia of course. But it is also about undermining Malcolm Turnbull

as he heads towards 30 Newspoll defeats and it’s no accident the timing of this ginger

group, the leaking of it through Peta Credlin, Tony Abbott’s former chief of staff. This is a

case of killing two birds with one stone here. The fact is that the banks don’t want to lend

money for new coal-fired power. The market is having its say on these issues and it’s

remarkable that the Liberal Party that used to champion the free market has people on its

Right wing who want to go to something that is more resembling of sort of state Socialism

in imposing coal-fired power than it is any approach of the free market.

PETERSON: Christopher Pyne Anthony Albanese just mentioned there that the 30th

Newspoll which we expect out next Monday will show another loss for the Prime Minister,

Malcolm Turnbull. Should he call on a spill?

PYNE: Ollie, nobody is talking about the Newspoll except people inside the beltway in

Canberra in the Press Gallery. If you walk down the main street of my electorate, not one

person stops me and says “Oh, I want to talk about the Newspoll’’. They will stop me and

talk about energy prices and reliability and cost of living and the good work we are doing

on jobs, creating 420,000 jobs, and defence industry and ship building and submarine

building. They are talking about all things that people care about. Not one person ever

says to me “I am completely focused on the next Newspoll’’ and nobody can seriously tell

me that is the issue that people are concerned about in Australia today.

PETERSON: So if we want to stop those questions, though, and the annoying chatter from

the Press Gallery and people like me Christopher Pyne, why doesn’t he just call a spill

though? There probably won’t be a challenger and it’s all resolved and we move on and

we talk about policy?

PYNE: Because we are talking about policy. We are talking about jobs. We are creating

jobs. We are focused on the economy. We are focused on growth. In Western Australia I

am focused on the Henderson precinct and trying to make sure we have a viable, growing,

exciting ship building industry there and (inaudible) and maintenance and I am doing the

same thing here at Osborne. We just announced the combat reconnaissance vehicles that

are being built in Queensland at a cost of $15.7 billion - the largest army acquisition.

We are getting on with the business of government. I am not distracted by polls and I don’t

think anybody is. And the Newspoll quite frankly, they said we were going to lose the

Bennelong by-election. They were 50 per cent wrong. They said that Tasmania was going

to go down to the wire. The Tasmanian Liberal Government won and won well. They said

they couldn’t pick the South Australian election and the South Australian Liberal Party won

and won well. They said Xenophon was a likelihood of being the Premier of South

Australia. He didn’t even win his own seat. So let’s focus on what matters, which is real

contests and real policy and we’ll let other people in the Press Gallery wonder worry about

the Newspoll.

PETERSON: All right, there’s some buoyancy there Christopher Pyne. Is that what you

are feeling as well Anthony Albanese? Is, all of a sudden, the Labor Party in the gun?

ALBANESE: Well of course Christopher Pyne said no-one is talking about polls and then

went on to talk about a range of polls. The fact is the Government is completely distracted

by the Newspoll number 30, which was the excuse that Malcolm Turnbull himself gave for

knocking off Tony Abbott, an elected Prime Minister.

The fact is that Malcolm Turnbull leads a bad government with no direction, no narrative

and no sense of purpose and I think that people can sense that out there, that it is too

focused on itself and there’s a range of issues that Christopher raises, some of which I

would frankly agree with, that the business of Government does have to go on. But the

Government in so many areas is completely distracted by its internals and there’s no

doubt that that is why this ginger group on energy policy has been formed. That is why you

see the constant undermining of the Government by its former prime minister; now its

former deputy prime minister - both sitting on the backbench. And in my area of

infrastructure you just see a lack of cut-through and a lack of government presence there

in WA. I, as you know, have now notched up five visits to WA this year.

PETERSON: You are always here.

ALBANESE: Christopher speaks about Henderson. He just doesn’t ever visit it.

PYNE: Rubbish. I have been there more often than you have. The only reason you are

always in Western Australia because nobody wants to see you in Sydney. They are all

sick if you, thoroughly sick. You are more welcome in Adelaide than you are in New South


ALBANESE: I am very popular in my seat Christopher.

PETERSON: Christopher Pyne, do you think that the Government will be able to get the

numbers to be able to pass your company tax cuts?

PYNE: Well I certainly hope so because the company tax reform will help create jobs and

higher wages and growth. And don’t take my word for it. That is what Bill Shorten used to

say when he was in the Gillard-Rudd-Gillard Government, as did Paul Keating, as did

Chris Bowen, the Shadow Treasurer. They have all been saying exactly the same things

that we have been saying for many years and now for pure political expediency are trying

to have a fight about it. See, Labor’s model is to fight about everything. They are not the

least bit interested in policy. They know as well as I do that if we cut the company tax rate,

there will be more jobs, there will be more investment in businesses in Western Australia

and elsewhere, and if they were in government they would be planning to do something

very similar.

PETERSON: The line in the sand has been drawn though Anthony Albanese - if Labor

forms a government at the next election, company tax cuts would be off the agenda.

ALBANESE: Well absolutely because we just don’t see that as a priority. You have at the

moment record profits taking place and that is simply not flowing through to an increase in

wages and that is why people are under pressure in terms of their living standards. The

fact is that this is a government that is relying upon the trickle-down effect, that somehow if

you cut company taxes - and indeed many of the companies that have been quoted as

supporting this don’t pay any actual company tax in reality - that somehow it will trickle

down and workers will benefit. Well workers know better than that, they know that that is

not the way that it works.

And at the same time the Government has refused to put forward a positive submission

when it comes to the minimum wage. You have the retailers putting forward a submission

calling for no increase at all in the minimum wage which means of course in effect a real

wage cut and that really shows why it is beyond belief that somehow these people who

think there should be no increase at all in wages would somehow just pass on a company

tax cut through to their employees. It defies reality and it just shows that this is a

government that is out of touch. Our priority isn’t cutting company taxes. It is investment in

education, investment investment in health, investment in child care …

PYNE: You‘ve had a fair run.

ALBANESE: … investment in the future.

PETERSON: All right gentlemen, unfortunately we are out of time this afternoon.

Appreciate your time this afternoon on the Odd Couple segment.

ALBANESE: Thanks for having us Ollie.