Topics: Pauline Hanson; energy policy; federal election campaign.
Host: Good morning to Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Liberal Senator and the Coalition spokesman for the campaign, good morning to you sir.
Simon Birmingham: Good morning. Good to be with you.
Host: You’re talking to us from Sydney today.
Simon Birmingham: I am indeed, I’ve been at the King’s Cross railway station with Dave Sharma the Liberal candidate for Wentworth this morning.
Host: Very good, now in the studio here in Adelaide, Nick Champion Labor Member for Wakefield or candidate for Spence, Labor member for Wakefield but now the boundaries have been redrawn they’re calling it Spence. It’s basically Adelaide’s northern suburbs stretching up to Gawler, Elizabeth, Salisbury way. Good morning to you.
Nick Champion: Good morning.
Host: And Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens Senator for South Australia also talking to us from Sydney, good morning to you.
Sarah Hanson-Young: Good morning, thanks for having me
Host: Can I just get all of you just to start by having a listen to this – this is One Nation’s Pauline Hanson on ‘A Current Affair’ last night.
Host: Does anyone feel sorry for Pauline Hanson? Sarah Hanson-Young. Let’s start with you.
Sarah Hanson-Young: Clearly Pauline is very distressed and I can understand when people watched that interview last night, it’s hard not to have sympathy for someone who they feels like they’re in the middle of a pretty awful train wreck of the campaign. However, Pauline Hanson has to stop blaming everybody else. These are her candidates, Pauline Hanson is not up for election this election and she’s asking other people to put their trust and faith in the people she’s chosen that she associates herself with. And what we’ve found out is that she doesn’t even like them, she doesn’t trust them. So how on earth could anybody else, how on earth can she ask the voters to trust any of the One Nation candidates? It’s quite clear that it’s too dangerous and too risky to vote for One Nation. Wherever you are in the country now, particularly here in South Australia we cannot let them get a foothold. We want someone to keep the other two parties, the major parties on it in the Senate to vote for the Greens this election and to make sure you lock One Nation out.
Host: Nick Champion do you feel sorry for Pauline Hanson?
Nick Champion: On the human level, I guess so but we’re in the middle of an election campaign. One Nation is having a bad election I think United Australia Party is having a bad election and of course the Government is reliant on both of these parties, both for preferences. And while they’re in Government, to pass their reactionary agenda of cuts and tax cuts for corporations and the rich and public service cuts for everybody else, to schools and hospitals, and you’ve got to imagine if we’re seeing this sort of level of chaos in the campaign imagine the chaos of a re-elected Morrison Government relying on both these parties in the Senate?
Host: Simon Birmingham?
Simon Birmingham: Look we all face tough interviews and that’s part of political life, particularly in leadership, it’s political bias. But in the 20 odd year existence of One Nation there’s routinely been candidates elected who’ve turned out to desert the party, disappoint the electorate etc. If you just look at the last election, One Nation I think returned four senators from around the country, by the end of term in parliament Pauline Hanson only had one sitting next to her. They are her candidates, they are her problem and she has to own and accept that is as part of her party. Now if you wouldn’t encourage anybody to vote for One Nation, encourage to vote for us.
Host: You lay down with dogs you get up with fleas, Pauline Hanson’s got nobody to blame but herself?
Simon Birmingham: Well, it’s her party, the name of the party, her candidates, ultimately she has to wear responsibility for those sorts of processes and it just shows we all have difficult days on the campaign trail, party machines all sometimes fail us. But it’s a pretty consistent 20 year pattern now in relation to One Nation candidates and MP’s, and I would have thought that all of the alarm bells should have gone off for Pauline Hanson. Back when the videos in relation to trading away Australia’s gun laws became public rather than having to wait for a strip club issue to come up.
Host: Let’s go to you Nick Champion Labor Member for Wakefield, candidate for Spence. What exactly is a renewable energy zone, which I understand Labor leader Bill Shorten will be here in South Australia announcing and it’s for the Spencer Gulf?
Nick Champion: Well obviously I don’t want to jump the gun on Bill and the details of the announcement but as I understand it, it’s recommended by the energy regulator and it’s all about coordinating investment and renewable energy in the Spencer Gulf. This is something that’s been recommended, the Government as I understand, the Government hasn’t taken it up and we will. And the important thing I guess I’ve seen a fair bit of in the rural areas of what was the old Wakefield. I’ve seen a lot of renewable energy projects sort of be put in, both solar, wind and batteries and there’s a lot in this
Host: They’ve been sort of put in all over the place, renewable energy, science zone sounds really cute. It sounds like oh we’ve gotta have one of them but what does it actually mean?
Nick Champion: Well I’m leaving, I think inevitably you’ll find that there are hotspots for renewable energy projects because as you know more solar, more wind out in the country, there’s just the capacity to build that in and it’s about getting the storage and the grid to bring it to bear. Well that hasn’t been the experience in South Australia that markets sort things out. Our experience with the previous Labor Government is that the Government coordination Government if you like policy settings bring some order to all of that is a useful thing.
Host: Simon Birmingham, Nick Champion said the Government was offered this and didn’t take it up. Why didn’t you?
Simon Birmingham: Well Nick Champion can’t tell us what it actually is, there’s a bit of a pattern here in the Labor campaign that there’s very little detail behind a lot of policies, there are the big spending policies, little detail or in this case flip slogans we saw yesterday.
Host: To be fair it’s about to be launched today.
Simon Birmingham: Well let’s deal with yesterday’s policy then, we saw the Labor Party announce yesterday, apparently CFC Clean Energy Finance Corporation funding for schools to put solar panels on their rooftops Now schools at present could apply to the CFC to put solar panels on their rooftops, that’s entirely within the mandate of the CFC, nothing is clear to me about what actually changes under the Labor policy announced yesterday. The money is already there and the CFC the ability to fund schools to put solar panels on their rooftops is already there, the difference of course is the CFC under its current structure has to get a rate of return in terms of loans that it provides and it would be cheaper for most schools to go through a state Government financing agency then go to the CFC
Host: Simon Birmingham, I asked you, do you know because Nick Champion said to you the Government had been offered a renewable energy zone. Did you know about that and did you turn it down and if so then can you tell us what it is.
Simon Birmingham: I don’t know Ali, I don’t know where Nick says that was recommended to Government from and Nick can’t tell us what it is.
Host: All right let’s go to Sarah Hanson-Young then.
Sarah Hanson-Young: I may be of some assistance here, Saturday I announced in Adelaide with our Climate Change and Energy spokesperson Adam Bandt, policies for renewable energy in zones in South Australia taken up by the zones that have been outlined by the energy regulator AER. Now what these zones are is they are identifying hotspots of kind of core renewable energy capacity in South Australia where there’s already installations in place or projects flagged. But the idea of zoning is to ensure that the grid is built so that we can connect the projects into the grid to have it strengthened and to ensure that there is proper interconnection into the other states, so that South Australia can become a leader and maintain our position of being the country’s best producer of renewable energy. Because if we’re going to reduce carbon pollution we’ve got to produce more renewable energy. We want to target 100% by 2030. The Energy Agency identified four energy zones in South Australia what Labor’s announcing today is just 1. I think we should do 4 to create 6,500 new jobs in our state and we should go for it.
Host: Is that the role you see for the Greens putting some lead in the pencil for Labor’s green emissions renewable energy policies. I mean that’s the future for the Greens. You need a Labor Government and you’ll sort them out.
Sarah Hanson-Young: Well I do think we need a change of Government that’s for sure David and a strong Green presence in the Senate to make sure we get serious action on climate change ensure we protect the Great Australian Bight save the Murray fix the Murray-Darling Basin Plan all of these things can be done if we work together. But you’ve got to have someone in there who’s willing to stand up and look I’ll put it on the table. No one’s better to stand up and call things out than I am.
Host: That is the voice of Sarah Hanson-Young Greens senator of South Australia we also have Nick Champion Labor member for Wakefield and Simon Birmingham.
Host: Simon Birmingham This election really just boiled down to a choice between anxiety over essential services, versus anxiety over the cost.
Simon Birmingham: No I don’t think so David because we have already under the Liberal National Government record funding schools, hospitals, roads that are projected to grow into the future, so there should be no anxiety over essential services but there should absolutely be anxiety about what the price of change will be if Bill Shorten was elected Prime Minister.
Host: So that is that is the Coalition theme here. Steady as she goes. Just keep it as classic small target politics. You’re not offering a brave new future. You’re actually not talking a lot about your record except to say it’s been broadly it’s been good. People have got jobs to say just don’t change. So it’s classic small politics and the anxiety that you’re trying to tap into is anxiety that that might be disrupted by a high taxing Government as opposed to Bill Shorten who’s saying no you’re anxious about your childcare you’re anxious about your medical services you’re anxious about the size of your wage packet and maybe Newstart. So he’s appealing to anxiety over essential services but he’s a much bigger target. At least he’s getting stuff out there.
Simon Birmingham: Well David we are proudly running on a record of economic achievement 1.3 million jobs created the budget brought back to balance and getting into surplus, the fact that we’re able to now lower taxes for working Australians and all of that is about creating opportunities people to get ahead in their lives and we do think all of that is at stake, Bill Shorten is running a radical policy agenda, I don’t deny the fact he’s got a lot out there but with every day and every billion dollar spending promise Australians have to realize that they’ll be the ones paying for those billion dollar spending promises through higher taxes, and what Mr Shorten refuses to do at every media conference at every debate at every opportunity is to actually honestly answer what the cost of his higher taxes will be, how much will retirees pay, how much will wage earners pay, how much will homeowners pay, how much will people pay in relation to their electricity, they’re all reasonable question for Australians to want answers to, Bill Shorten is the one asking for a change of Government. He is the one asking to back a radical new policy agenda with vastly increased levels of Government spending and what we estimate is $387 billion in extra taxes that Australian’s would have to pay.
Host: That’s a lot.
Simon Birmingham: That is a significant choice that Australians will have to make about the future.
Host: Nick Champion?
Nick Champion: Well what you just said was not a unique thing in Australian history a Government with no policy and just negativity and they’re doing it because they have to hide what has been what five or six years now of cuts and chaos. We’ve had three Prime Ministers and one explain why they got rid of Malcolm Turnbull the country’s still sort of scratching its head about that and there’s really deep anger in places like Sturt and Boothby about that, about this sort of chaos in Government. The last thing the Liberals were voting for in 2013 and then we’ve had these cuts to schools and hospitals and everybody knows these cuts because it was in the 2014 budget. It was written in the budget papers as written in the promotional material for that budget. So we know there have been deep cuts to schools, deep cuts to hospitals. We know that’s reflected in you know waiting times as a real as a real outcome for and for certainly from my constituents. And so the Government sort of heroically goes on you know with this this sort of policy offering which is essentially nothing but negativity personally about Bill and also about the policy offering.
Simon Birmingham: That’s not true Nick.
Nick Champion: We’ve got Morrison sheering a sheep and all these other stunts, wandering around car yards sort of and then being negative about Bill personally and then being negative about Labor’s policy. How about you run a positive campaign?
Simon Birmingham: Mate we have a policy to abolish the 37 cents in the dollar tax brackets we eliminate bracket creep for Australians, we have policies to keep growing jobs in great 1.25 million jobs over the next five years including 250,000 young Australians particularly targeted through our apprenticeships policy to generate 80,000 additional apprenticeships, we announced a policy at the budget more than $400 million investment in mental health services critical to support Australians, that’s been backed up by additional targeted policies around rural and regional mental health services and mental health services for Indigenous Australians, we clearly have policies out there but also we are unashamedly highlighting that there is a choice this election and the choice is one where Australians have to know that if they change the Government they’re going to change the taxes they pay they’re going to see a vastly higher spending Government in the future and the Bill Shorten refuses to give straight answers about those tax questions and those higher cost Australians will face,
Host: Minister for Trade, and a Liberal campaign spokesman, thank you very much for your time.