Standing up for Canberra

Transcript: Interview with Tim Shaw

SUBJECTS: Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister, postal survey, media law reform, energy security, R U Ok Day

SHAW: A very good morning in just a moment the Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann, Federal Labor Member for Canberra, Shadow Assistant Minister for Cyber Security and Defence joined by Liberal Senator Zed Seselja, ACT Liberal Senator, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs. Well today marks the last day of the sitting week in this session, the next sitting week begins on the 16th of October, but today marks the 14th of September 2017, two years since Malcolm Turnbull ascended to the Prime Ministership. There has been a federal election subsequently on the 2nd of July 2016. How's it all going two years on? I guess it's all about the power and the passion.

Shaw plays Midnight Oil ‘Power and the Passion’.

SHAW: Yeah power has been in the news. I had “No Coal Joel” on the program yesterday. But he refutes the name calling of “Brownout Butler” and “Blackout Bill” and “No Coal Joel”. Joel Fitzgibbon says he is pro coal, to discuss that, the marriage survey, changes to the media law, and most importantly I want to check that our Federal Members are OK, because today is R U OK Day, Gai Brodtmann welcome.

BRODTMANN: Thank you Tim and welcome Zed.

SHAW: Good morning Zed.

SESELJA: Good morning Tim, good morning Gai.

SHAW: Straight away, two years on Gai Brodtmann how would you rate the Prime Ministership of Malcolm Turnbull? It was the 14th of September 2015 when he tapped Tony Abbott on the shoulder, 30 newspolls lost. No economic narrative, how does Gai Brodtmann rate Malcolm Turnbull the Prime Minister?

BRODTMANN: Well here is a man who used to stand for something on climate change, on marriage equality and now we have a man who believes in nothing, who leads a divisive, dysfunctional government, who is incapable of making a decision, it's just thought bubble after thought bubble, who is engaging in personality politics, which is something he vowed when he got the job he was never going to do. He's all talk, no action. He is a big disappointment to the Australian people. And he leads a government that is elitist and out of touch.

SHAW: Zed Seselja.

SESELJA: Obviously I completely disagree, what we have been seeing is some really significant achievements over the last couple of years, and building on the achievements of the first couple of years of the Coalition Government. So if we look at our economy, in the last year about a quarter of a million jobs created, most of those full time. That doesn't happen by accident it happens through policies like cutting tax for small business, which was done. By cutting tax to medium business, by cutting tax to middle income earners, it comes through red tape reduction, we've also seen massive childcare changes which really benefits low and middle income families in Australia we are seeing a defence industry plan that is about securing our nation, delivering on the submarines and the frigates and other defence needs. But at the same time building a real industry, something that was completely neglected when it comes to things like the NBN, every week we are connecting more houses than Labor did in four years when they started the NBN. So we are getting on with the job, and of course things like energy, which are absolutely critical, we're seeing some real progress, things like Snowy Hydro 2.0, but also working in various ways on gas reservation policy and other things to protect Australian consumers and to keep the lights on.

SHAW: Alright, Gai Brodtmann let us talk about your leader. Your leader said it's important for the Australian people to have their say on changes to the Marriage Act, the Senate did not support a plebiscite, which is what was Federal Government policy before the election and they've said we wanted to have this plebiscite. Labor's said no twice. Now the government has put the postal survey out to the Australian people and the Leader of the Australian Labor Party Bill Shorten says it doesn't matter what the outcome is of that postal survey is, we will ignore if a no vote, that decision by the Australian people in the voluntary opt in postal survey and Labor will change the Marriage Act irrespective of what the Australian people say in the first 100 days of a Labor Party Government, is Bill Shorten a hypocrite Gai Brodtmann?

BRODTMANN: Well we have been crystal clear on the fact that changes to the Marriage Act, as they have been over the last few decades, should be made by the Parliament. We've been crystal clear on that and we believe that the postal survey is a waste of time and a waste of $122 million.

SHAW interjecting: But Bill Shorten wanted to send out a letter, Bill Shorten wanted to send out a letter with his signature and Malcolm Turnbull's last week, the Prime Minister declined that invitation, but Gai face it, that would be another $30 million Bill was prepared to spend, if the PM had said yes. So you're saying it's a waste of money, you're saying then also that you will ignore the Australian people if this vote is no, when that survey is completed. Labor is going to say no we don't care what the Australian people think, and you're leader wanted to spend another $30 million on a letter signed by him and Malcolm, come on.

BRODTMANN: I'll just go back to the point I made before Tim. We've always believed the Marriage Act, as it has been in the past, should be changed in the Parliament. This is a waste of $122 million. It is a waste of time and also we're very concerned that it's going to be divisive, we have been completely upfront in the fact that we have made that commitment to introducing legislation in our first hundred days should we win government.

SHAW: Alright should you ignore the people of Australia at your peril, Zed Seselja if you're in government, if the vote is no and the Prime Minister decides, well we're going to change the Marriage Act that would be hypocritical wouldn't it?

SESELJA: Well we won't ignore the people and that's the whole point of this. I note Gai didn't answer your question about whether Bill Shorten is a hypocrite on this, because clearly he is, because he supported a plebiscite a couple of years ago and now he doesn't support it. But the fact is we took this to an election, we said people would have their say, Labor and the Greens have done everything to stop the people from having their say. But now they can have their say, and for a leader of a major political party in Bill Shorten, a man who wants to Prime Minister, to be suggesting that one he is campaigning for a yes vote, but it doesn't matter because under Labor you're going to get it anyway, so I think it's untenable and I think it will become increasingly untenable for Bill Shorten and the Labor Party to simply say we are going to ignore the Australian people. It is rare Australians get a direct say on this and I acknowledge that, but this was an election promise, we won that election, we're now delivering on that promise and we're giving people a say and we should respect that.

SHAW: Zed Seselja, what happened in the Senate overnight relating to media laws and why is the Coalition pushing strongly to get rid of this two of out three ownership, you've now got Nick Xenophon support, tell my listeners what it's all about.

SESELJA: Well look we are making progress and it appears this will finally go through the Parliament hopefully sometime today or tonight, and what this is about, it is about the fact we have to recognise that media has changed a lot in the last 30 or 40 years, particularly over the last 10 or 15 years, and our media laws go back to the 1980s and we didn't have the internet in the 1980s and that has become very clear in the last several years that internet proprietors there are no boundaries and no borders, and for having things like 75 percent reach and two out of three, that's not applying to Google, Facebook Netflix and YouTube. [Inaudible] They are everywhere and we need to get with the times, and that is what this media reform is about.

SHAW: Gai why isn't Labor backing this?

BRODTMANN: Well Australia already has been one of the most concentrated media markets in the world, and yes there has be a proliferation in terms of the platform, in the way media is delivered. But seven out of the top ten news platforms are actually owned by traditional media, so we may have a proliferation in terms of diversity of the delivery of the message, but there is still no proliferation of the diversity of the organisations that are delivering that message.

SHAW: Okay you two I'm sick of the name-calling by the way “Blackout Bill”, “Brownout Butler” and “No Coal Joel”. Now listen I had “No Coal Joel” Fitzgibbon on the program, Zed Seselja he is pro coal.

SESELJA: Well look unfortunately for Joel Fitzgibbon his party isn't and he's not doing anything to actually distance himself from his party, is he going to cross the floor? Is he going to not support the motions that they've supported in the Parliament? Labor's supporting motions saying we're going to shut down coal fired power stations. They've supported the Greens on this at every turn, and they're criticising the Prime Minister for trying to keep Liddell open, which would actually put downward pressure on prices and make sure we've got energy security, and Bill Shorten has been campaigning against Adani, which is about opening up coal, billions of exports for Australia and delivering all sorts of royalties and economic growth. Joel Fitzgibbon might say it, but he's part of a party that actually wants to follow Jay Weatherill and the Greens, and see the blackouts and much, much higher electricity prices. I'm sorry to tell Joel Fitzgibbon, but unless he is to buck the trend of his party this is his party's policy.

SHAW: Gai Brodtmann.

BRODTMANN: Look under this government 4,000 megawatts of coal has been taken out of the system and the government has done nothing to fix it. Now that's the equivalent of powering six million households and why the risk of blackouts this summer is higher than before, and why power prices for houses and businesses are higher than ever before. We have a crisis happening right now in terms of energy and this government under Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull has just sat on its hands and done nothing.

SESELJA: Well that's just not true and you know that.

BRODTMANN: All talk and no action.

SESELJA: You actually opposed all of the policies.

BRODTMANN: What are you doing about The Energy Crisis?

SESELJA: All of the policies that we do you oppose them and what we're actually doing, so you look at things like the gas reservation policy, that is about us having gas to help fire our electricity generators and keep prices down that's occurred under us. We are developing things like storage under Snowy Hydro 2.0, we've got a range of policies and like I said on the key one we've been discussing this week, which is to get Liddell staying open, you've said we shouldn't do it. You've opposed this, so every measure we have taken has been about energy security, and lower prices, and we've had no support and if Labor was to come in of course the alternative is a 50 percent renewable energy target which we all know would lead to South Australian conditions right across Australia.

SHAW: Gai Brodtmann, in the ACT we have a 100 percent renewable energy target from the Barr and Greens Government, and yet they are drawing on power from Liddell and Mount Piper which we found out yesterday is having problems with access to their coal because Four Greens, an organisation called Four Greens is running a court action to limit the amount of coal that's available. Gai, Zed if we don't fix this there is going to be blackouts all over Canberra because 100 percent renewable energy target according to Angus Taylor on my program yesterday, Gai Brodtmann it is bonkers, what do you say, a 100 percent renewable target here in the ACT?

BRODTMANN: I say we do need to address this issue, the chief scientist.

SHAW Interjecting: 100 percent.

BRODTMANN: The Chief Scientist has said “we have an urgent need for a clear and early decision”. The government has done nothing on this for five years. Nothing on this.

SHAW interjecting: Should we walk away from Paris? President Trump.

BRODTMANN: There is no national energy agenda, no national energy vision, the industry is tearing its hair out.

SHAW: They are. Walk away from Paris Gai?

BRODTMANN: There is no clear vision and no clear strategy from this government, and no clean energy target.

SHAW: Do we walk away from Paris Gai Brodtmann? Do we walk away from the Paris Agreement? President Trump has.

BRODTMANN: The government needs to come up with a national energy strategy, and it needs to decide what it is doing on the clean energy target.

SHAW interjecting: Will you sit in a bipartisan way? Cause Joel Fitzgibbon is ready to sit bipartisan with Josh Frydenberg. Zed Seselja will you invite the Australian Labor Party to the roundtable to get this sorted if necessary, Zed Seselja do we walk away from the Paris Agreement?

SESELJA: Well look. We believe we will meet the Paris Agreement.

SHAW: According to today's press you won't.

SESELJA: But the most important thing is that we have is reliable and affordable energy and of course we want to meet our targets, but number one is that the lights stay on and number two is that we make sure it's as affordable as possible, and I'm not sure if I detected in the answer from Gai Brodtmann there on the 100 percent renewable energy target, whether there is now a new national Labor policy, I just thought they wanted the South Australian 50 percent nationally, but maybe it's 100 percent, maybe they want the ACT model, but either way it would be a disaster for the nation. So look we are putting forward a lot of policies, and we're not getting a lot of support from opposition, unfortunately that is nothing new. But if they want to come to the table we'd love to work with them if they actually believe in keeping the lights on, if they actually believe in lower energy prices.

SHAW: Gai Brodtmann, R U OK Day, such an important day, what's your message to Canberrans that are not feeling as well as they could, who do they reach out to, what's your message to Canberrans on R U Ok Day?

BRODTMANN: Well there are four simple steps. Ask are you OK? Listen. Encourage action. Check in. As a community we are talking more about mental health which is a good thing, this is a very good thing. But sadly suicides still continue to affect far too many Australians, so I encourage Canberrans to take those four simple steps. Ask someone that you're worried about if they are OK, listen to them. Encourage action, and check in, and I'm assuming Tim that you'll be giving out all the details for the support networks.

SESELJA: Look that was well said and I'm fortunate enough to be an R U OK Day Parliamentary Ambassador along with my friend on the other side of the aisle Ed Husic, and it's absolutely critical that we look out for each other, and sometimes it's the little things you notice about a colleague or a friend or a sibling, it's worth asking that question and saying "how are you doing are you okay?" and where we identify where there may be a serious issue there are some amazing services, so R U OK Day is about reaching out to people and putting them in touch with people who can really help, it might be Lifeline, it might be a psychologist, it might be a mental health professional, who knows. Look after each other and do the right thing and ask that question are you okay?

SHAW: Gai Brodtmann and Zed Seselja thank you so much for your time and have a great day.

BRODTMANN: Thanks Tim and thanks Zed.

SESELJA: Thanks Tim and thanks Gai.