27 November 2018
Transcript - #2018001, 2018

Interview with Kieran Gilbert and Laura Jayes, AM Agenda, Sky News

Kieran Gilbert:

Joining us now on the program the Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert. Thanks so much for your time. First of all, your reaction to the comments as reported by the Herald Sun today of Kelly O’Dwyer yesterday where she said the Party is perceived, elements of the Party is seen as climate deniers, anti-women and homophobic. This was in the aftermath of the Victorian election. What do you say to her assessment?

Stuart Robert:

Well Kieran I wasn’t in the room for the conversation, so I’ll let those in the room speak for themselves. I think there is some reaction to what happened on the weekend. It was probably a disappointing result what happened down in Victoria. The Victorian’s will now work through that in terms of their Party processes. Probably best to let them work through that in their own time.

Laura Jayes:

More broadly the Party at a national level are there elements that are homophobic, seen as anti-women, climate deniers.

Stuart Robert:

Well not that I’ve seen at all in any way shape or form. I think those that know the Liberal Party and especially in the National Party will attest to that quite strongly. We’ve got a very firm energy target, we’ve got a very firm commitment in terms of our climate change reductions at 26 to 28 per cent of emissions on 2005 by 2030, the Prime Minister’s made it clear we will meet our Paris commitments and canter by 2030. I think our climate change credentials are strong.

Kieran Gilbert:

So you reject the notion that there are some climate sceptics in your Party Room.

Stuart Robert:

The Party Room is a broad-church Kieran, it’s a great thing about the Liberal and National Party, is we encapsulate a broad cross section of Australia and we encourage people to have different opinions.

Kieran Gilbert:

Have elements of that church been able to dictate policy beyond their numbers cause that’s the point Kelly O’Dwyer suggested.

Stuart Robert:

It was an Abbott Government that put in place a 26 to 28 per cent reduction target as our Paris Climate change commitments. The Government continues to hold to those targets the Prime Minister has made it clear we will meet those targets at a canter I think that speaks for itself about our commitment to where we are going with Climate Change, and Angus Taylor makes it very clear about our commitment to getting energy prices down.

Laura Jayes:

Well Julie Bishop also makes it very clear on the front page of the Financial Review this morning, do a deal on the National Energy Guarantee, make it bipartisan, give business the certainty they want.

Stuart Robert:

Well the great thing about the energy policy, it’s focused on getting energy prices down, our Paris climate changes commitments hold, there’s no change there. The reliability obligation that was in the neg remains on the table so there’s still a strong focus in that space and of course a price safety net, and of course moves to stop price gauging. I think Australian consumers will find our energy policy is about them.

Laura Jayes:

But your Party doesn’t offer bipartisanship on the issue of energy business for a long time and Julie Bishop reiterated it today saying there needs to be bipartisanship to ensure that certainty.

Stuart Robert:

Well Mark Dreyfus, well Mark Dreyfus was on your program this morning refusing to rule out a carbon tax. Mark Buttler is a very strong frontbench, is out there saying there’s more to come in Labors policy. It’s quite clear we’re not going to have bipartisanship on a carbon tax which is where the Labor Party doing. Otherwise Mark Dreyfus would have ruled it out and he didn’t,  and I think that’s telling. We’re focused on getting energy prices down. We want Australians to have cheaper power, we want them to have reliable power. We don’t want to see blackouts like we saw under Labor in South Australia over Christmas, that’s what our focus is.

Kieran Gilbert:

But you also designed a National Energy Guarantee and then amid all the dramas of a couple of months ago that blew up and that was really the option wasn’t it, that was the chance for a bipartisan stance here because that’s what Julie Bishop is saying the government should adopt now, is there any prospect you could go back to that.

Stuart Robert:

Well the prospect for Labor of course is to rule out a carbon tax right now, the prospect for Labor is to focus on getting energy prices down which we’re doing.

Kieran Gilbert:

But you’re the Government.

Stuart Robert:

That’s right.

Kieran Gilbert:

You’re still the Government.

Stuart Robert:

And they can join us on the reliability obligation right now which came out of the neg. They can do that. They can join us on an energy safety net, right now. They can join us on picking up the big stick to go after energy companies that refuse to take care of consumers, they can grab part of that handle on the big stick but right now they’re refusing to. The big sticks over there for Labor and Labor’s going oh no we don’t want to force prices down, we want to have a 50% renewable target. We want to look at things like carbon tax cause that’s where the Labor Party is out of present.

Laura Jayes:

How do you think your Governments going? I mean last 2 sitting weeks of Parliament, you see Mark Dreyfus moving to go alone on protecting gay kids, you have the Victorian election result. Members of the Government tearing themselves apart. Do you really think this is going well in the electorate?

Stuart Robert:

Well if you look at where things sit economic wise, unemployment at 5 per cent over 1.1 million jobs have been created, the budget will be in surples next financial year. We are getting control of the Nations finances after what Labor did with the 4 biggest budget blowouts in history. I think when you start looking at those numbers including wage increases now at 2.3 per cent, so you’re now start seeing wage rises above inflation. In terms of our stewardship of the economy I think it’s good.

Kieran Gilbert:

Do you think the politics are a chance for the Coalition of yesterday, Mr Morrision said it’s going to be between me and you, this war cry as it’s put by the Australian today, Dennis Shanahan comparing it to previous declarations by political leaders, Paul Keating and John Howard in the past, do you think that that personal approach is going to work for Mr Morrison?

Stuart Robert:

I think good policy leads to good politics, might have been Howard’s mantra at the time but I think it’s very true. The average punter doesn’t get involved in the who said what and how it compares to past political leaders, that’s something we do here in Canberra. The average punter wants to know whether their kids will have a job, whether roads will be built, whether Immigration levels will be sustainable, whether unemployment’s coming down. That’s what were focused on. Were focused on good sound government.

Laura Jayes:

Do you support a Federal ICAC?

Stuart Robert:

The Prime Minister has made it very clear that we have been working through those processes and he’ll have more to say in the future. I sat on the parliamentary committee for the integrity commissioner, so I can see the value of how that works and the processes whereby that works particularly soundly.

Laura Jayes:

So it’s a good idea?

Stuart Robert:

I think there’s merit in some of those areas and the Prime Minister’s made it clear we’ll be working through that and we’ll have more to say coming up.

Kieran Gilbert:

And what about the protecting your super legislation, this is for the under 25’s not having to opt in, its automatic for their superannuation. Is that legislation, where is that at the moment?

Stuart Robert:

Currently in the Senate and we’re looking forward to debating that as soon as we possibly can. Right now, 5 million Australian’s are paying 3 billion dollars, mostly for insurance they don’t need. 2.4 million Australians have at least 2 accounts and they’re paying insurance on 2 accounts. 44 thousand Australians Kieran have 5 super accounts and they’re paying insurance on all 5 accounts. Yet they can only claim insurance on 1. I mean this is outrageous. We need to protect Australian consumers from this and this is what the Government is doing. We’re focused on policy.

Laura Jayes:

Stuart Robert I’m wondering if you can maintain that all the way up until the election. We’ll see. Stuart Robert thanks for your time.