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Transcript of interview with Craig Zonca and Rebecca Levingston: ABC Brisbane: 4 April 2018: Rookwood Weir; Commonwealth Games; royal family; Adani National Energy Guarantee

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Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Radio interview with Craig Zonca and Rebecca Levingston, ABC Brisbane

SUBJECTS: Rookwood Weir; Commonwealth Games; Royal Family; Adani and National Energy Guarantee


CRAIG ZONCA: Malcolm Turnbull good morning to you.

PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, great to be with you.

CRAIG ZONCA: Are you somewhat avoiding Prince Charles? Given that he’ll be here at lunch time but you’ll be in Rockhampton?

PRIME MINISTER: I’ll be in Rockhampton indeed, announcing a great new water project there that’s going to create thousands of jobs in Rockhampton and Gladstone areas. So, it’s a really important announcement and I will be seeing Prince Charles while he’s here. Both at the opening and tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to that.

CRAIG ZONCA: Given that you are such a prominent Republican is there any awkwardness with the meeting with Prince Charles?

PRIME MINISTER: No, not at all, I’ve met Prince Charles on several occasions over the years and we always get on very well. As far as the republic is concerned, or Australia’s constitutional arrangements, as the Prince has always said and indeed the Queen has always said, it’s a matter for Australians.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON: Kim Beazley was announced yesterday as WA’s next Governor. If eventually Australia does become a republic Prime Minister, will positions like that disappear?

PRIME MINISTER: Well the plan or proposal that was put up in ‘99 involved the Governor General’s position becoming the President and the head of state - so the Queen or the King of the United Kingdom - would no longer be head of state and the state governors would continue doing exactly what they do now.


PRIME MINISTER: So, that was the proposal that was put up in 1999.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON: Because it’s another twist there in that Kim Beazley is also a prominent republican. What do you hope to speak to Prince Charles about when you do meet him tonight?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, conversations with the royal family are always confidential. But I can say that the Prince and I and indeed Lucy share a lot of common interests, particularly in terms of urbanism, architecture, planning, environment, ecology. He is very, very knowledgeable and has had enormous experience over his long career as the Prince of Wales. He’s a very thoughtful and considered and charming person to meet. I look forward to seeing him again.

CRAIG ZONCA: Malcolm Turnbull your guest on ABC Radio Brisbane this morning. Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony tonight, you’ll be there Prime Minister. Do you have a favorite event of the Comm Games?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I’m really looking forward to the swimming. Looking forward to seeing the Campbell sisters and Emily Seebohm. You know, we’ve got a great swim team. I caught up with John Bertrand the President of Australian Swimming yesterday and I think we’ve got great opportunities there. The pool is always, I guess, our area of greatest potential in terms of medals but there’s so many others as well.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON: You mentioned that Prince Charles is a staunch environmentalist. You’re heading to Rockhampton this morning with this announcement relating to water, you’ll be wading into territory where people are very keen on knowing whether or not the Adani Carmichael coal mine has a future. Prime Minister does that project have your support and I mean beyond, you know, we’ve heard over and over again from Labor politicians “if it stacks up environmentally and financially”. Do you want the Adani project to go ahead?

PRIME MINISTER: Well again, I certainly would welcome it going ahead, but it’s got all of its environmental approvals. So, it’s really now a commercial matter for the company.

So, the problem that Bill Shorten has raised of course, is that he has said up in Queensland, that he supports the Adani project subject to it meeting environmental benchmarks. And down in Melbourne, when he was campaigning in the inner city seat of Batman, he said he was against it. So he’s been very two faced about it. I mean, my view is that with big resource projects like this we’ve got tough environmental standards. If they meet those standards, if they get the relevant conditions and approvals given, then subject to that they should be able to build them. It’s pretty simple. Because if you pull the rug out under projects after they’ve been given those approvals - which is what Bill Shorten is threatening to do - it not only kills that project but of course it acts as a massive discouragement to everybody else from wanting to invest in Australia.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON: But it’s also about the energy future of this country. Certainly, members of your party have been very up front, everyone from Tony Abbott saying “coal is good for humanity”, to more recent reports about a group of people who are championing coal. I guess what people are seeking from you as Prime Minister is, your vision for the future of energy in Australia. How big a role does coal play and how big a role do renewables play?

PRIME MINISTER: I set all this out in a speech 18 months ago. Our future, the future for energy is Australia is one that includes all technologies; coal, wind, solar, gas, hydro, they are neither good nor bad. They have no moral characteristics, they have got certain physical characteristics. All of them have a role to play. Technology is moving very rapidly. The cost of solar in particular is coming down all the time, as indeed is the cost of wind and as you have more solar and wind in the system - particularly solar, which Queensland has got plenty of potential there as you know - you need to have more storage. That’s why I set out that, for the first time as a national leader, set out the importance of storage.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON: Do you think that Queensland should pick up the reigns from Elon Musk and his commitment to South Australia? Annastacia Palaszczuk has flagged that Queensland would be keen to talk more about battery storage, would you like to see more of that development here in Queensland?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I certainly welcome all technologies being deployed, but let me just finish though. The critical thing is that you’ve got to assess all of these technologies on the basis of their engineering and economic characteristics. I mean what is our goal? Our goal is not to have more coal or less coal, or more wind or less wind, or more gas or less gas. Our goal is to have affordable and reliable energy. We want people to have more affordable energy and they’ve got to be reliable. You’ve not only got to be able to afford to turn the lights on, but they’ve got to stay on when your turn them on. And we’ve got to meet our international commitments to reduce our emissions. Now that’s what the National Energy Guarantee that we are proposing to the states as part of our national energy policy, will deliver. It will a technology agnostic market mechanism that will enable everyone to invest.


Well Prime Minister let’s hope - we’ve got to leave if there because we’re up against the news - but let’s hope we get the right amount of sunshine, wind and not too much rain for the Commonwealth Games this next couple of weeks. Thanks so much for your time.

PRIME MINISTER: Well let’s just hope that, okay thank you. [ENDS] Press Office of the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister, Canberra