13 February 2017
Transcript - #2017012, 2017

Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

SUBJECTS: Energy policy; Bill Shorten and Labor’s opposition to lower power prices; WA election preferencing, Turnbull Government’s Enterprise Tax Plan to drive economic growth

RAY HADLEY:

Great stuff. As a person who has been involved in the odd stunt myself, the coal into the chamber, great stunt. Were you channelling me at any stage when you went and got that big hunk of coal and hid it and took it in? Were you thinking that wasn’t a bad bet by Ray with the bible, I’m going to try and do it with coal?

TREASURER:

I do all my own work Ray, just like you.

HADLEY:

How did you get it in there by the way? I would imagine anyone carrying a big hunk of coal into parliament would be going through all sorts of checks and balances. A hunk of coal in the wrong hands, Minister, Treasurer, could be very, very serious.

TREASURER:

I was actually making quite a serious point, as you know, the look on the Labor Party members’ faces, particularly those whose own constituents dug that coal up. That was coal from the Hunter Valley, and I made particular mention of Joel Fitzgibbon, but the member for Shortland and others, they’re all there demonising what role coal should continue to play as part of a secure energy future. They’re working against their own constituents’ jobs. And that was my point, we’re not saying that the only thing we should be doing going forward it coal, that wasn’t the point. I mean, our policy is all of the above, and I said we have no more a fear of coal, than we have a fear of wind, or solar, or wave energy, or pumped hydro or whatever the option is. And what the Labor Party have done, driven by the Greens, maybe their real phobia is not coal-o-phobia it’s Green-o-phobia, because that’s what’s driven them to write off those jobs of those people in their electorates now, and they’re basically cheering on the closure of coal-fired power stations.

HADLEY:

Even Graham Richardson, writing in the Australian this morning, says look if Labor is to seize government on March 11 in Western Australia we have got to get rid of this stupid 50 per cent renewables. He says it’s just stupid. Alan Jones said on his own programme this morning that your policy, of he said 28 per cent, is equally stupid, we shouldn’t have figures we should just do the best we can.

TREASURER:

Well that policy, as you know, was introduced under the Abbott Government and that was introduced as a result of earlier legislation, the fact is they’re the rules now, if you keep going and changing the rules every five minutes then the investment that flows then may not flow to many other things, so you’ve got to keep some certainty and continuity about these things otherwise you just hurt other people’s jobs. What I do welcome is both the Queensland and South Australian Liberal Parties have called for an end to these ridiculous renewable energy targets of 50 per cent in their states, and to ensure that we have one national renewable energy target, but more importantly, whether it’s coal, or whether it’s whatever it is, we’ve got to have all the options before us so we can get the best outcomes, so people, as I said last week, don’t boil in the dark and shiver in the winter.

HADLEY:

Renewables are working very well for South Australia aren’t they?

TREASURER:

Good point. I mean, yeah they’ve had a big weather event on one of those occasions but when the Shadow Minister, Mark Butler, on Friday, described what was happening in South Australia as a hiccup along the way, on the transfer to renewables. I mean that tells you everything you need to know, these guys just don’t get it.

HADLEY:

Look, I’ve been talking to Tim Nichols, the Opposition Leader of the LNP, about preferencing and it’s a different kettle of fish to what’s happening in WA. One Nation, I mean the view I have, if the LNP are to win government, they won’t do it by themselves they’ll have to do it in a third coalition with One National because she’s very popular, as is her party. But this deal, that the Liberals have done, which is obviously not fitting the Nationals too well. Where they isolate the Nationals in the upper house and preferenced One Nation, and reciprocal rights are One National preferences in the lower house where they’re in a bit of strife. Tony Abbott was a guest on the programme this morning, and then Alan was a guest, and critical of the deal, said it just doesn’t seem to make sense to be isolating the National Party when they’ve traditionally been partners, and formally, are partners and one party in Queensland, as opposed to Western Australia.

TREASURER:

The relationship between the National Party and the Liberal Party is different in Western Australia than it is to what we know in the eastern states, that’s got a long history to it. As we know, when the Western Australian Nationals Senator was in, sorry member for Kalgoorlie I think was the seat at the time, was in the Federal Parliament, he didn’t actually sit with the Coalition, he sat differently. So there is a bit of a different history to all of that. But they’re matters for the Western Australia state division of the Liberal Party, as they go forward this election and they make their choices, but I notice all the sort of hoopla about them making that decision about preferences, well, the Labor Party preferences the Greens. I mean they’re the ones who want to open our borders and trash the Budget and basically sell away our sovereignty. Maybe the question should be, they should go last. The Labor Party wants to put up taxes, raise the debt and raise the deficit. Maybe they should be put last. They both represent clear and present dangers to our national prosperity and living standards. So I do find the debate a little bit interesting, that some have separated out.

HADLEY:

Look the pragmatic view is this. They’re never going to vote with the Labor Party, One Nation, one would think unless there was exceptional circumstances. The natural fit is the conservative side of politics, just they are further to the right than perhaps some moderates in the Liberal Party and the National Party would see fit. But at the end of the day, in Queensland for instance, if they’re to seize power off Annastacia Palaszczuk they are going to need one Nation. We’re talking about polling of somewhere between 19 and 22 per cent, outpolling the Greens.

TREASURER:

Well, in my experience what all governments, and political parties need to do, mainstream, parties, is argue for why people should give you their first preference. That is certainly what I am doing, what the Prime Minister is doing and the reason we’re arguing for that and I am sure that Colin Barnett is doing it in Western Australia is because that is the Government that is going to deliver the certainty, the security and the stability for our economy and national security. Now, that’s what we are arguing for and I know, as we discussed last week Ray, people have some concerns and it is our job to address those concerns and solve the problems that are concerning them. Others can talk about preferences and all the rest of it but what I am interested in is good government and attracting the support of the Australian community for their first preference vote.

HADLEY:

Now, I don’t suppose it is a security issue so tell me how you got the coal into Parliament? Because you skipped over that and went onto something else. How did you physically? It was too big to put it in your pocket.

TREASURER:

Yes my pockets are not that big. I had it in a little bad and I brought it in.

HADLEY:

Don’t tell me you have short arms and long pockets.

TREASURER:

I brought it in a little bag. Sometimes Ray you have got to do something like that to get some attention on to the issue. Now, I could have just got up and said it is important that coal is part of the mix of things we have going forward – we have five coal-fired power stations, Ray, that close within the next ten years. That is a significant generation capacity that is when they are scheduled to come off line because of their age. That is a significant issue about how we manage that and all of the other things that we can look at the clean coal options or cleaner coal options or however people want to describe it and to put it back on the table, that is largely what I was saying. The Labor Party and the Greens took coal of the table. They treated it like a toxic substance and I just thought that was an insult to the men and women who live, in many cases, in their own electorates whose livelihoods depend upon it. You look at what is happening down there at Hazelwood, or Portland where energy is so critical, or Whyalla, to them and their future – or Port Lincoln. You have to ask yourself 50 per cent RET targets which drive up prices and the experiment we have seen in South Australia as a vision of the future under Labor is terrifying.

HADLEY:

Now, I don’t think you need to drag Joel Fitzgibbon who is based in the Hunter Valley kicking and screaming to the table on coal. He knows his constituents whom their livelihood, towns, exist because of coal.

TREASURER:

Well, he should step up and the other members on their side should step up when it comes to representing those interests because basically they have sold out those interests to play to the inner city Greeny votes that the Labor Party now chases. We have company tax also which we are trying to encourage the Parliament to support this week. Now, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, you cannot question his independence, made it crystal clear last Thursday night that these changes will help keep the Australian economy competitive. The people who work for these businesses will be in a better position to hold on to their job and get better wages if we have a more competitive tax system. Now, Chris Bowen used to believe in that. Bill Shorten used to believe in that when it suited them, when they wanted to present themselves to the business community as being responsible and now when it doesn’t suit their case they just do a flip. That’s the problem with these guys?

HADLEY:

You would have been astounded at the reporting on the ABC, exotically named business reporter wrote a story about what the Governor of the Reserve Bank had said and neglected to mention any criticism of Labor Party policies in relation to getting us back in the black.

TREASURER:

Funny that, wasn’t it. They talked about, they raised some legitimate issues around infrastructure and housing and I share very similar views to the Governor on those issues but funnily enough there was no particular mention there about the fact that the Reserve Bank Governor of Australia, one of the most respected central bank governors in the world, is saying really guys you have got to support this because it is important for our competitiveness. They lost their last excuse when the Governor came out on Thursday night, the Labor Party and others. We have put a lot of issues to the crossbench, Nick Xenophon in particular who still doesn’t not support the full Enterprise Tax Plan but the only reason we are talking to Nick Xenophon is because Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen did a complete backflip on their previous position on company tax. Australians who work for those companies are going to lose out as a result if we can’t get it through.

HADLEY:

And by the way the author of that article on the ABC was the exotically named Carrington Clarke – a gentleman. Now, there are only two places someone with that name could work; either The Bold and the Beautiful or the ABC. If your name is Carrington Clarke you have got to work at either the ABC or Channel Ten’s Bold and the Beautiful. That is the only place you could possibly work with a name like that – don’t you reckon?

TREASURER:

Fair enough.

HADLEY:

Carrington Clarke. I didn’t know if it was a man or a lady – it is a young man.

TREASURER:

Well, good for him. It is important, by his omission it’s given us the opportunity to highlight what he actually said.

HADLEY:

Guilty by omission your honour. Ok, we’ll talk next week.

TREASURER:

Thanks Ray. All the best to the Sharks this weekend, they come up against Wigan. So the boys are over there – gone from 40 degrees to 0. I’m sure they will do us proud.

HADLEY:

World Club Challenge. All the best to you, thank-you Treasurer.

TREASURER:

Thanks Ray.