Sky News – 6 April 2018

April 06, 2018

TOM CONNELL: Joining me live from our Adelaide studio we’ve got Liberal MP, Tony Pasin with us. In Sydney, he’s usually in Brisbane is Labor MP, Graham Perrett.

Gents, thanks both for your time. I’ll start with you Tony Pasin because you were named this week as someone that had signed up to this Monash Forum. Is that the case? Were you offered it?

TONY PASIN, MEMBER FOR BARKER: Absolutely Tom, I’m a member of the forum in the same way Keith Pitt’s a member of the forum because I’m passionate about finding ways to take pressure off households in terms of their energy prices. Anyone that wants to project onto this forum, this group, leadership considerations is doing just that; projecting that onto the group rather than comprehending what the group is about and what we’re trying to achieve.

CONNELL: Is that the message at all to anyone within the forum because straight away people were saying, hang on look at the names involved and it’s happened just before this 30th Newspoll, it’s not that big a step is it to read some of that into it?

PASIN: Look, drawing inferences in politics is particularly dangerous, particularly by members of the fourth estate, Tom. I can speak for myself; I made it clear to members within the forum that I’m a member of this forum because I believe in giving coal a chance. Particularly HELE coal, high energy low emitting technology and having a conversation around that. Equally, I’ve made it clear to the members of the forum that if this forum is being used as some sort of Trojan Horse to attack or undermine the leadership of the current prime minister I’m not having a bar of it. If I comprehend that, if I see that, if I perceive that, I’ll be the first one to call that out and that will be the end of my involvement in that forum.

CONNELL: Fair enough. Graham Perrett, what about you on giving coal a chance? Do you agree with that sentiment? Does it have a chance under Labor?

GRAHAM PERRETT, MEMBER FOR MORETON: Well look, we deal with the world as it is and I won’t use that name to refer to this group out of respect for our greatest ever general, I might call them the Ash Men. Because I think the Ash Men, if they listened to the advice coming from the Treasury, saying that lignite coal coming out of the Latrobe Valley, if you build a power station to burn that, it’s actually going to be more expensive power. So if the group is organised around the principle of cheaper power, they need to listen to science and listen to the advice coming out from Treasury – their own Treasury advice – saying that solar and renewables are actually the energy sources of the future. 

CONNELL: I’ll just jump in but what about you, Graham Perrett, obviously there’s been some interesting lines about Adani coming out ahead of the Batman by-election. Is the Adani project a popular one in Queensland, Graham Perrett?

PERRETT: Well look, jobs are something that Labor will always stand by. But as Bill Shorten made very clear, both before, during and after the Batman by-election we don’t think that taxpayer dollars should be invested in that infrastructure. We’re worried about it being a stranded asset. There are coal mines in mothballs at the moment; right now that can’t find a market for their coal. Seaborne coal markets have diminished significantly. In terms of the 96 gigawatts of new electricity produced in the world last year, the majority of it came from solar. It’s basically renewables are out-matching coal, two-to-one at the moment as that latest UN Report shows. So the energy of the future will not come from that, I’m loathed to almost call it coal in the Latrobe Valley, it’s not quite coal it’s lignite. The Ash Men need to get onboard the idea of where the cheaper power will come from, and it ain’t from the Latrobe Valley coal deposits.

CONNELL: Tony, I want to ask you about leadership. There’s some interesting lines this week quoted as moderates, saying that they’re now concerned that Malcolm Turnbull is helping out conservatives too much. Is that your feeling?

PASIN: Tom, I’m totally disinterested in talking about leadership speculation. I’ve just come from the Karoonda Farm Fair in my electorate. Standing on my mobile office, nobody wants to talk to me about internal discussions inside the beltway, in fact they come up to me and say, quite frankly, we’re sick of you talking about yourselves, we want you to talk about the things that matter to us. That’s the message I want my colleagues to hear; I’m sure it’s the message that Graham heard during the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years. Discussions about internal policy dynamics and leadership speculation does no favours to political parties, it doesn’t help us govern this country and it doesn’t help the mum and dads in the weatherboard and iron, or the concrete and struts in my electorate. We’ve got to get back to focusing on the things that people want us to be concerned about. One of those we were just having about affordable, reliable energy and electricity.

CONNELL: Just one more on this. Is anyone coming up to you though and raising the performance of Malcolm Turnbull at all?

PASIN: I have had not one colleague approach me about this issue. I’ve had plenty of journalists ask me whether there’s internal speculation and I’ve disappointed almost all of them, Tom, in fact all of them by saying if these discussions are happening they’re not happening with me. That might be because I’m not relevant enough to talk about these things to. But I think more likely that people are just not focused on it.

CONNELL: Never say that, not when you’re on Friday Newsday. I’m going to have the most tortured segue of the day now, from talk of not quite a leadership spill to chicken nugget spill. One million were spilled on the Hume Highway causing a bit of traffic. The Prime Minister earlier today, he was asked well does he order chicken McNuggets when he goes to McDonald’s.

[Clip of Malcolm Turnbull]

CONNELL: I should really just apologise for that segue, I couldn’t quite resist it. Graham Perrett, you’re an MP, are there some late nights when you’re out there talking to the electorate, you’ve got to go to the opening of just about everything when you have to sneak through the drive through late at night?

PERRETT: My office is right next to a McDonald’s. It’s right outside my window. It’s very, very, very close. So I have been known to go there, and I’ve got young kids as well. Obviously I choose a balanced diet, so I always go for a Big Mac and a Diet Coke. They’re my choices when I go to McDonald’s.

CONNELL: It’s a free ad now, but Tony Pasin what about you?

PASIN: I’ve got a lot in common with my colleague. I’m a Big Mac medium meal kind of guy with a diet coke. I must say, I also share something in common with the prime minister because if I’m after chicken it’s KFC for me. Burgers McDonald’s, chicken KFC. And sadly I’m an all too frequent visitor to these establishments, Tom.

CONNELL: There you go the politicians’ diet it doesn’t sound like an enviable one. I want to ask you Graham Perrett, slightly more seriously about this Pauline Hanson talk today. She says if Labor doesn’t put the Greens last, she’ll put Labor last. I don’t think there’s a lot in the threat necessarily. But might you need some Pauline Hanson preferences, indirectly or otherwise to help you in Queensland get some of these marginal seats?

PERRETT: Labor’s always put her last. Since she made those words, back in 1996 that ‘we’re going to be swamped by Asians’. We’ve always put her last, since then, 1996. And we did it at the last election and we will continue to do so, it won’t make a lot of difference. The Labor Party is not about harvesting One Nation preferences; that’s not what we’re about. We believe she is a divisive force in Australian society. She said we’d be swamped by Asians, swamped by Muslims and yesterday said we’re going to be swamped by Indigenous Australians, so not someone I’d be having any talks about.

CONNELL: Let’s play her comments today on Sky News talking about the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony and her thoughts before I get yours, Tony Pasin.

[Clip of Pauline Hanson]

CONNELL: Tony Pasin, you equally might need some Pauline Hanson preferences in Queensland to hang on to a whole slew of marginal seats. There’s plenty of colleagues worried up there. How do you feel about these comments?

PASIN: Well Tom, I didn’t see the Opening Ceremony. One of the problems or difficulties of servicing an electorate that’s 64,000 square kilometers is that I don’t get to watch television. I get to drive about 35hrs a week around my electorate. So I can’t comment in terms of what Pauline saw. What I can say is she’s wrong if she says Indigenous Australians aren’t Australian. The reality is, they form a significant part of our culture and heritage and we should celebrate them, just like we should celebrate Australians who come from Italian heritage like me…

PERRETT: Hear, hear.

PASIN: …and friends of mine that are Indonesian and other things.

Now, questions around preferences should always be left to individual voters, they ultimately are. Obviously there are directions given in how-to-vote cards and other things. I’m not surprised Graham has ruled out any kind of discussion with One Nation, particularly if it came at the cost of Green preferences, which is something that is very important to him in his seat, and other colleagues in the Labor Party. The Liberal Party’s perspective, we play to win, Tom. Our plan is always to win on first preferences. What happens after that is a matter for the minor parties.

CONNELL: But you’d still happily take, that play to win attitude, preferences from One Nation if that deal ended up happening?

PASIN: Well certainly not something we would rule out. Individual electors, if they see fit to put Pauline Hanson number one, then the Liberal Party two, that’s a matter for individual electors. I don’t’ think we go deliberately around harvesting these preferences, we’re not relying on them, we’re playing to win and winning means winning on first preferences in my view.  

CONNELL: We’re nearly out of time, Graham Perrett, I know you did want to mention the Commonwealth Games in your neck of the woods. I saw a few reports of a lot of tickets left. Is it being embraced? Not quite the Olympics?

PERRETT: I took my two sons to see the hockey yesterday, Tom. We saw two great matches, saw the Hockeyroos get up. It was fantastic. I went from Brisbane by public transport, it was wonderful. I didn’t see too many empty seats at the hockey stadium and everyone I spoke to on the public transport was having a great time, great buzz. I hope everyone can get along and see it. I’m going to the boxing tomorrow. It should be great fun.

CONNELL: Alright good to hear. We know you’ll be busy driving around, Tony Pasin and you’ll miss it but hopefully you’ll take some KFC and McDonald’s for the kids when you do get there. Graham Perrett, Tony Pasin, always appreciate your time on this Friday.

PERRETT: Cheers, Tom.

PASIN: Thanks, Tom. Thanks, Graham.