Subjects: National Energy Guarantee; Prohibited Items in Immigration Detention Facilities Bill; character cancellation; tax relief; Longman by-election.
Minister, good morning.
Good morning Ray.
I spoke yesterday to your colleague Josh Frydenberg about this National Energy Guarantee – I don't want to bore you with it because we've spoken about it before – Mr Frydenberg compared our reliance on coal of that to the USA. The Americans only get 30 per cent of their power from coal. Our figure is 70 and sometimes 80 per cent, depending on whether the winds blowing or the suns shining, but of course the Americans have the advantage of 20 per cent nuclear, 31 per cent from gas and only 20 per cent, or under 20 per cent from renewables.
So I mean at the moment – I know this debate is on about the National Energy Guarantee and Labor don't know whether they'll vote for or against it – but Tony Abbott's left us in no doubt what he's going to do unless there are changes.
Now I note today in the front page of The Australian, your colleagues in power, the Nationals are putting on a blue and I think they're right on putting on a blue. By the time Liddell closes Minister, we will need another coal fired power station and that's inescapable.
Well Ray, as I said to you last week and the week before, I think from my perspective, from constituents in my area; if you're living in Albany Creek or Strathpine, I mean people are worried about their bills and they're worried about the prices; they're worried about reliability – and we've seen in South Australia, which has been a complete disaster, where they shut themselves off and basically just relied solely on wind – and as you say, that's okay when the winds blowing, but when it's not, the lights go out.
So the idea of the energy guarantee is that it provides a mix and if it's going to provide cheaper prices – and we're starting to see prices come down now after they went up by over 100 per cent under Labor – and the lights are staying on, then I think that's what people are interested in.
Now how we get to the mix – whether it's 39 per cent or 42 per cent or whatever the figure is – in the end the Government's saying that we have a better plan in reducing power prices, making it more reliable. Labor wants to go down the track of 50 or 60 per cent renewables which would be a disaster. Prices will go up, people's electricity bills will be dearer under Bill Shorten in what he's proposing. There's no doubt about that.
Well I take your point, that if you're aiming for 23, 24 or 25 per cent, anything above 30 would be suicidal, but I still think we need to have the debate and a sensible debate – not the sort of stuff that Josh trotted out yesterday – with all the facts on the table about exactly where we're heading. It's no good us selling coal from Queensland to China and Japan so they can build more coal fired power stations while we can sit there and hum in the lotus position and make ourselves feel better about the Paris accord. It just doesn't make any sense.
Other nations including America have opted out and aren't obeying it and those who are still opting in don't obey the rules anyway. We look like we're the really good boys in class or good girls in class and the others are all being naughty and we're being punished for being good. That's how it looks to me and how it looks to most people. Anyway you and I can talk about it forever.
Now last week we talked about Labor refusing to support the Migration Amendment Bill which would ban mobile phones for immigration detainees. All of a sudden I pick up the paper and I see a 25 year old Vietnamese man facing deportation after being evicted for cultivating commercial quantity cannabis has escaped immigration in Adelaide. The man, whose name has not been released, was recorded on CCTV using a mobile phone and smoking near the perimeter of the Adelaide Immigration Transit Accommodation before he jumped the fence on Tuesday evening obviously into a car or an Uber driver he just booked on his mobile phone.
Well who would have thought Ray? So we've said this to Labor; we're worried about the immigration detention network, people escaping, people committing offences – assault and whatnot against the officers within the centres – and we're trying to tighten it up and this is just the latest example of why the Bill needs to pass the Parliament.
Allowing people mobile phones where they can organise drug deals, where they can organise escapes, where they can organise assaults or other crimes is completely unacceptable and I can't understand why Mr Shorten can't support this Bill through the Senate. The sooner we get it through, the sooner we can give proper powers to the officers at these immigration detention centres.
We can't have a situation where people are using their mobile phones when they're facing deportation – they've committed criminal offences or they've overstayed their visas in some cases – these are serious criminals and they need to be deported. They don't need to be given a hand-up by Labor to escape from immigration detention or run their criminal networks from inside the detention centres. It's a no-brainer.
But it's not just you; the Border Force Commissioner highlighted the potential for mobile phones to be used to organise criminal activities. I mean this bloke either called Uber or called his mate and said listen, I'll jump the fence, come and get me. But I mean we're talking about criminals who can run their empires from inside immigration detention.
Well that's what I say Ray. I mean we've identified the problem, the Commissioner's given me advice that we need to act. We've put the Bill together. Labor won't support it and again it's hard to comprehend why.
But my old friend Shayne Neumann – who's had 700 days in the job now and hasn't asked me a single question on boats – is not up to the task. Bill Shorten hasn't even named him the Home Affairs Shadow Minister yet.
So I don't know what they're doing on the Labor side of Parliament, but it's not just border protection that they're weak on, it's immigration detention – you know we've cancelled more visas of criminals in the last 12 months than Labor did in six years in government – people need to understand this and Bill Shorten needs to explain why on earth they would be opposed to this Bill.
Okay. Just one that…I know you'll say look, I might have to make a decision on this. Fred Chetcuti; sentenced to 24 years in jail for the brutal murder of his estranged wife Gloria while his 16-year-old son was in the car. It's a terrible story. You ordered him to be deported back to his native Malta, it was overturned, but then a stroke of common sense; I think Justice Steven Rares said no, that's the final appeal, off you go, you've got to go – and he ordered in fact, him to pay the government legal bills.
Now I'm being contacted by people involved in this. Has he made some sort of another appeal has he to the full bench or something or to the High Court? What's happening?
The advice that I've got is that in April Ray, the Federal Court dismissed his application and, as you say, that was a win for us in the Federal Court. There is another application as I'm advised that he's filed and again – as you point out, I might be a decision maker in relation to it so I won't make any further comment – but I'm confident of our position. He's a person that's committed a heinous crime and he doesn't deserve to be in our country and as soon as I can deport him I will.
Well you'd think the distinguished jurist Steven Rares, his decision will be un-appealable, but that may be another day.
Now, just back to local politics if I can. I heard Chris Bowen talk to my colleague Alan Jones this morning and try and deflect away from the captain's call by Bill and I've had a look at the video a number of times. It wasn't a media conference, it was a one on one question I think from a doorstop by the look of it and it looked to me like he was a bit like the kangaroo in the headlights. He was a bit startled by the question and obviously the person questioning was well versed about the $10 to $50 million turnover for companies and the tax and he just said yes we'll be getting rid of that.
Now all of a sudden I note over the past couple of days they're all gathering around him and saying well – which started with Mark Dreyfus, the waste of space Shadow Attorney-General – and now they're all chorusing: oh no, no, no, no, no, it wasn't the captain's call, we all agree with him – we don't know what he said, but we agree with him, just like he did with Julia Gillard was she was off in Turkey one time over the then-Speaker – I don't know what she said, but I agree with her and it looks like that's now a catching part of the Labor policy that you don't know what the leader says or what he meant, but we agree with what he said.
So where do we stand at the moment? I don't think it'll get – even if he were to be prime minister, the Senate will still be the house of review and they wouldn't let it happen – but it's just a dumb thing to do, isn't it?
But he'll have control in the Senate with the Greens; that's what will happen if Bill Shorten gets elected. That's the case in the Rudd-Gillard Government and that's why they got so much spending through and bad legislation otherwise. It's how they got legislation through in watering down John Howard's border protection policies etc. Ray.
So no, they'll impose higher taxes. I mean they've got a tax now that they're proposing on retirees. People who have worked hard, saved a bit of money, might have a few shares. They're going to abolish negative gearing altogether, which will be a disaster for people that have a rental property and trying to provide a bit of support for their retirement. They've got now a new plan to put these taxes on small businesses – and we're not talking about big businesses or banks – you're talking about the local IGA who might be employing kids after school or apprentices or people that might have gone into retirement, looking for a day or two's work.
It's just this union philosophy and he's tied himself so strongly now to the union movement. I think his every move is dictated by the CFMEU and others and people see hesitation because they know he doesn't tell the truth and Anthony Albanese's now fired the starting gun. The Labor leadership game will be well and truly underway if Labor loses one of the by-elections on the 28th of July. So he is under pressure and I think he tried to appeal to the Left and to some of the inner city Green voters when he said he would impose, reimpose this tax on small business.
You know the other thing too Ray that really gets under my skin and I think a lot of people as well, is you hear Labor in Question Time talking about tax cuts that we're putting – not just for individuals, but for small businesses as well – they refer to them as handouts.
People work hard for their money and they pay tax, they give it over to the government and they expect be spent wisely, but when we cut that tax and give them more of their own money back, Labor continually refers to it as a handout. It's not a handout. It's giving people money back that they've worked hard for, that they've earn themselves and in businesses, they put that money back into the business, they buy new ute, they refurbish the workshop, they buy new fridge for the takeaway shop, they put on an apprentice, whatever.
Why Labor want to continue to put these taxes on…it'll kill business, it'll kill employment and this is what Labor's done over the years and it'd be a disaster to see Bill Shorten in The Lodge, but I think Anthony Albanese's well on his way to stopping that from happening.
Okay. Just on one final thing from The Courier Mail today. There's been a ReachTEL poll conducted for Longman, 814 residents of Longman back on June 26, just two days ago. Two-party preferred that comes your way through your candidate Trevor Ruthenberg, 51-49. So she looks like she's in trouble. This could be the first time a sitting government has won a by-election since what 1920? And that will signal I guess the floodgates of criticism for Bill Shorten in relation to leadership and the aforementioned Anthony Albanese would be, I guess, a good chance of taking over.
But is that the gut feeling you're getting from residents in areas in Brisbane and Queensland in general?
Longman's just to the north of my electorate; so starting at Kallangur and then working its way up. So Trevor Ruthenberg's a great bloke. Big Trev, as they call him, and he's doorknocking up there and I think he's a good representative for that area.
I think people have a real hesitation in Queensland in particular, but across the country about Bill Shorten, the union links, these extra taxes that he wants to impose and border protection is a big issue in Longman because people recognise that we don't want to reopen our borders, we don't want people drowning at sea again, we don't want a thousand people a week being pulled off boats and that's what Labor's offering. Susan Lamb up there is one of the cheerleaders for Labor to change their policy on boats, to water it down.
The other thing too up there Ray is that they've been lying about hospital funding. We've put additional money into Caboolture Hospital, into all sorts of health services within the metro north region and Bill Shorten has been up there with a bus running around saying that we've cut money from health and as it turns out, that is a lie and people have had it demonstrated to them that Bill Shorten's lied about these health cuts when we're actually putting more money in and I think people react negatively to that. They're happy to hear the facts and make up their own minds, but they don't want to be lied to and I think that's what's happening in Longman at the moment as well.
Okay. I'll be off for a couple weeks, we'll talk when I get back. Thanks very much for your time.
Alright. Take care mate.