SUBJECTS: Climate change legislation; Taiwan; Parliament.

ALLISON LANGDON, HOST: Well, let’s turn now to that remarkable moment in Parliament, long thought impossible, Australia enshrining its climate action goals into law. And for more, we’re joined by Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles in Geelong, and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton in Brisbane. Nice to see you both this morning. So, Richard, it’s going to go through the Upper House thanks to the Greens. This is the new normal, right? You need them.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, what this is is a Government presenting to the Parliament legislation which is completely consistent with the mandate that we received from the Australian people on 21 May. And it brings to an end a decade of uncertainty that was given to us by the former Coalition Government who just simply couldn’t sort this issue. And they’re still all over the place in terms of their position in respect of what we have put through the Parliament.

We saw members of the Coalition crossing the floor. Who would know what their view is in respect of this? But what we do know is that business want this to happen, the Australian people want this to happen, and the Albanese Government is now doing it. This is going to be great for the environment, but it’s going to be great for jobs and great for the economy because it’s going to promote investment.

LANGDON: What did you have to give the Greens to get their support?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Nothing. What we’ve put before the Parliament is a piece of legislation which is completely consistent with the mandate that we received on 21 May. 43 per cent was the target that took to the Australian people. 43 per cent is the target which is in the legislation that’s going through this Parliament. So, we have been – we’ve honoured the mandate we received. We are getting on with business. That’s what the business community want. That’s what the Australian people want, and what we are seeing from the Coalition again is the division which paralysed the country for a decade. We’re now moving beyond that and that’s a great thing for jobs and a great thing for the economy.

LANGDON: Peter, you didn’t support this legislation and, look, you lost 18 seats at the last election and a lot of that was because of your lack of climate action. Are you starting to look like a bunch of dinosaurs?

PETER DUTTON. LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well, Ali, the one thing that Richard didn’t talk about there was price, and I think this signals a really upward movement in the price of not just electricity but gas. Let’s be very frank about it. And the Prime Minister went to an election promising a $275 decrease in power bills. He promised it on 15 different occasions and he refused to repeat that promise during Question Time over the last fortnight. So, I’m really worried about families at the moment. I don’t want power prices to go up, but I fear that under what the Labor Party and the Greens have put together here, we are going to see massive spikes in people’s electricity prices and their gas prices at a time when they can’t afford it.

We’re all for renewable energy and for a responsible response to the environmental concerns that we all have, but we’ve got to do it in a way that doesn’t turn off the lights. And we’re seeing in Germany and elsewhere at the moment where there’s a rationing of power – if that happens here, you’ll see manufacturing close up, jobs exported offshore, and the emissions still going into the atmosphere. So, we’ve got to have a sensible approach, but there’s a huge price that the Greens have extracted here, and that will really cripple investment into this country, and you’ll see that unfold over the next couple of years.

LANGDON: Yeah. Richard, when people care about the environment, they also care about keeping their lights and their heaters on. When will we see that $275 come off our electricity bills as promised?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, Ali, what Peter’s just said demonstrates the extent to which the Coalition is completely stuck in the past. What is different now, compared to 10, 15 years ago, is that cheap energy is renewable energy. Getting more renewable energy into –

LANGDON: So, when will that $275 come off electricity bills, is the question?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, we put forward modelling at the last election which shows that this will give rise to cheaper power. And it will do that because we are putting more renewable energy into the grid. And we’re doing that by upgrading the grid itself, by enabling and encouraging investment in renewable energy. And the fact that we’ve got increased power prices now, which happened under the former Government, is because they were unable to get renewable energy into the grid in a way which would get power prices down. And what Peter is saying where the Coalition is at is this old world view that renewable energy somehow costs more. It doesn’t. The secret here to getting cheaper power prices is getting more renewables into the grid, and that’s what we’re going to do.

LANGDON: All of what you’re talking about is going to take a bit of time. I want to move on because there’s another very serious issue taking place to our north, China conducting live-fire exercises around Taiwan. That, of course, follows US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s pretty divisive visit. I mean, Richard, this is a serious escalation. Do you think the visit by such a senior US politician was an unnecessary provocation?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, the visit of Speaker Pelosi is really a matter between the United States and Taiwan. Certainly, the reports that we’ve seen around China’s use of ballistic missiles is a concerning set of reports. We want to see de-escalation of tensions here. From Australia’s point of view, we will obviously come to this in a very calm and measured way which seeks to play our part in de-escalation. We don’t want to see any unilateral change to the status quo across the Taiwan Straits, and that has to be the position which underpins the way in which we engage and that’s really been the bipartisan position of Governments in Australia now for some time.

LANGDON: Yeah, let’s hope it is a bit of shirt-fronting. Look, it’s Friday, gentlemen, and I have noticed this morning, you’re looking very spiffy. You’re both very well dressed. You’re wearing your ties because I know that during the week one Nationals MP calling out a Greens MP for his state of undress, saying, “we’re not at a barbecue.” Pete, I mean, we’re in trouble, aren’t we, when we’re talking fashion advice from our pollies?

DUTTON: Well, I’m just happy that the Greens were wearing shoes, Ali. I think that’s a really very significant step forward. So, that was great. I have got my jeans on, not shorts this morning and, yeah, they’re pretty stylish jeans. Sometimes we get away with shorts if we’re on set but, you guys are always well dressed. You set the standard and we just want to follow the media celebrities. As you know, we’re in the ugly people’s show business, so what can we do?

LANGDON: I mean, you should see what Karl sometimes wears from the waist down. You don’t want to. You don’t want to actually. Nice to see you both this morning.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: We try to avoid that.

LANGDON: It’s been a big week. Appreciate your time.


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