2CC Stephen Cenatiempo Breakfast Show- 07/12/2021

07 December 2021


SUBJECTS: Political panel with Liberal Senator Zed Seselja; Kate Jenkins review; Powering Australia Plan; Power prices.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: Two people who will be acutely aware of this behaviour, our political panel joining us. From the Labor Party, the member for Canberra is Alicia Payne. G'day Alicia.
CENATIEMPO: And Liberal Senator for the ACT, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Zed Seselja. G'day Zed.
ZED SESELJA, LIBERAL SENATOR FOR ACT: Morning Stephen. Morning Alicia.
CENATIEMPO: Alicia, I want to start with you. I mean, as a woman in Parliament, you would be acutely aware of what the culture in the building is like. We've got to call out this behavior, not just when it's targeted at somebody on the other side, on our own side of politics. We've got to call it out every time it happens.
PAYNE: Yeah, I agree with you there Stephen. The Jenkins report is an incredibly distressing read for anyone. And I think this is an issue that is not just about our workplace in the Parliament, which obviously has some serious problems. But I think people want to see the Parliament leading on these issues. I mean, at the beginning of the year, we saw a real response from women all around the country with the march for justice, to the experience of Brittany Higgins, and also other behaviour from Parliament House. But I think why it really resonated was, much of it was what people were experiencing in their own workplaces, in their own homes and communities. And that's why it's not all about Parliament, but Parliament really needs to lead on these issues. And we want to see that happen. So Labor is committed to implementing those recommendations. But we've also committed to consult with our staff on that, as we implement those. And I want to just again, thank everyone that contributed to that report. Many people who were telling their stories for the first time to Kate Jenkins, and she's done an incredible piece of work there.
CENATIEMPO: Zed, all of what Alicia said is right. But again, we've got to call out the absolutely scurrilous things that Lidia Thorpe said in Parliament last week, have largely gone unreported by certain sectors in the media and certain sides of politics have sort of tried to be a bit mealy mouthed about it. We've got to be fair dinkum about this.
SESELJA: Yeah, look, I think that's right. I mean, if you, if you support, people being treated decently, if you support women being safe in their workplace, then it doesn't matter what political stripe, they have, or, you know, as you say, whether you voted for them, or whether you voted for the other side. They shouldn't be treated in that way. But with Nicolle Flint, you raise a really good point, because I recall it was, I think it was in this term of Parliament, where I think it was Mike Carlton, who said some disgraceful things about Nicolle Flint. And that wasn't called out by the left, because I guess Mike Carlton is one of the one of the guys who's popular on the left or supported. So, you know, whether it's Nicolle Flint, whether it's anyone else, and I don't care what your political stripe is, people should be safe and women should be safe in the workplace. They shouldn't be abused, online or in person or in any other way. And, yeah, look, there's a lot of work to do so I think you're raise a really good point. In terms of the Jenkins review, generally, I think, you know, those kinds of behaviours that have been there from time to time, are disgraceful they need to be called out. I don't tolerate them. We shouldn't tolerate them in our own offices, we shouldn't tolerate them in the parliament, we shouldn't tolerate them beyond that.
CENATIEMPO: Alicia, I want to touch on something you said. And you made an interesting point that it's happening in every workplace across Australia. Do you think that Parliament has been unfairly targeted a little bit, and I agree with you to a certain extent that you as parliamentarians need to lead. But ultimately, when we talk about representative democracy, can we expect you to behave any better than we do?
PAYNE: Look, no, I probably should have phrased that slightly differently. I mean, there are particular issues in parliament that are exacerbated by many of the structures, the way our employment works in there. The fact that we don't have a HR body that you can go to or something like that, and also the power imbalances, the long hours, the particular environment of Parliament House. All of these things have been pointed to in that review. So many of those things, I hope some of the things aren't going on in other workplaces. But the point is that sexism and harassment are going on in workplaces around the country, it's that part of it that people identify with and want to see our parliament lead in stamping that out.
CENATIEMPO: Yeah, but that's my point. I mean, given that you guys effectively are representatives of, I've always said that our parliament and our and our politicians are a reflection on us, not the other way around. So I mean, as human beings, we all need to lift our own game. Otherwise, there's no way that somebody that is elected from us is going to be any better than us, so to speak.
PAYNE: Yeah, well, I would agree with that. But I do think there are particular issues in Parliament House that can be addressed, in part by changing some of the structures and environment in which we work.
CENATIEMPO: Yeah, that's a fair call. Yeah. Zed electricity prices seem to be dropping everywhere except here in the ACT.
SESELJA: Yeah, that's right and that's been the case now for a little while. So we're actually, we've actually seen across Australia, we've seen under our government, 11 consecutive quarters of electricity price drops. Unfortunately, in the latest round, we're seeing prices go up in the ACT, we're seeing them, thankfully, for everyone else going down around the country. And so that's, I guess, hopefully, not going to be, I guess, a pointer to what might happen if there's a change of government. Because if there is a change of government at the federal level, I mean, last time, at a federal level, we saw electricity prices double, we've seen them come down under us, as I say, with the exception lately in the ACT, where they're going up as a result of some of the local policies. But you know, you wonder what will happen. I mean, Canberrans are already paying a lot, whether it's electricity now going up, when the rest of the country is going down, whether it's our housing costs, whether it's the cost of rates, which have gone absolutely through the roof, under this Labor-Greens Coalition. So, you know, I guess there'd be people here in Canberra, saying, well, we've got a Labor-Greens government at an ACT-level. What's going to happen if we get one at a federal level? There would be people around the country, perhaps asking the same question,
CENATIEMPO: Alicia, that is a fair concern. And I know that Chris Bowen was fairly adamant when he addressed the Press Club the other day that the Greens won't influence Labor's policy on this, but the emissions target, the 2030 emissions target is much the same as what Bill Shorten went to the last election with, that was largely condemned by your own side. I mean, that 2%, how big how a difference is that really make.
PAYNE: So just start by noting that actually, electricity prices in Canberra and the ACT are lower at the moment than a lot of the rest of the country. So at the local level, that's the fact. But I'm really so proud of the policy that we have announced this week, that's going to lower emissions, create jobs, and lower power prices. And also, this policy that we have announced is backed by the most comprehensive modelling that an opposition have done on any policy ever. And that modelling shows that our plan will bring down power prices by $275 per year per household by 2025, and that it will increase, the reduction will increase further from there. So that is a big part of our plan. Under this government, we've seen 20 energy policies and they've delivered nothing and that has fed into the uncertainty that's stopped business ...
SESELJA: It's delivered lower power prices
PAYNE: ... from investing in renewables, which are going to bring down power prices. And that is exactly what we've seen in the ACT with the last two years we've had 100% renewable energy and our power prices are lower than around the country.
CENATIEMPO: I gotta call that out, the 100% renewable energy, we only produce 5% of our own energy here. The rest of it comes from across the border and 65% of that is produced by fossil fuels. By any stretch of the imagination how do you get the math that says we're 100% renewables?
PAYNE: Well, you're right, we don't obviously produce it all here in the ACT, but we buy renewable energy, and we offset it. So we get to 100% that way, and this has actually brought down power prices in the ACT.
SESELJA: That's actually not, that's not true, Alicia, because the 100% was only I think, achieved in the last year or so. And that's almost seen the prices spike. So that's actually not true. Actually, the ACT wasn't anywhere near that 100% until recently, and it's only when they've gone for some very expensive policies. And now we are seeing those prices spike. But you know, Alicia claims there, Stephen, that, you know, they'd be energy prices coming down under Labor. Well, that wasn't the record for six years when they were last in government, it wasn't the record, when they formed an effective coalition with the greens at a federal level. They're now taking a 43% target, as you say, almost identical to what they took last time. But of course, that's their starting bid. And when they negotiate with the Greens, inevitably, if they were to form government, they will do it with the Greens either in the Lower House or the upper house or both. And, you know, the Greens said 75%. The Greens are got a whole range of other crazy policies that they're going to ask for as well like cutting, cutting defence spending in half, which have a devastating effect here in the ACT.
CENATIEMPO: Alicia, that is a fair call because it's going to be hard for either of the major parties. As we move forward, it's harder and harder for the major parties to form Government without support from somebody else. The Greens have got some pretty lunatic policies out there. How do you mitigate that?
PAYNE: Well, look, we're wanting to form a majority government. That's our aim.
CENATIEMPO: Well, of course you do.
PAYNE: We are coming up with plans to govern for the entire country. The Greens can focus on trying to take votes off us and they can focus on particular issues. They don't have to fully cost or think about how they implement or explain these policies to the broader Australian electorate. So I'm focusing on our policies and what I would ask Zed is why does he think that the Liberal Party understands business better than business? Because business are asking for these targets. And the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry group and others have backed our policy. And they want to see a target like that, they want to see action taken on climate change so we can keep pace with the rest of the world,
CENATIEMPO: Zed, I'll let you quickly respond to that and then we've got wrap up.
SESELJA: I'll respond to both. So the idea that you're not going to form a Coalition with the Greens, that's what you said in 2010 and you did exactly that. And you brought a carbon tax that you promised you wouldn't deliver. So that's the record. That's the track record. And when it comes to having strong policies, we do have strong policies, but they're strong policies that bring down energy prices, and don't whack jobs. And that's been Labor's record is to whack jobs and increase electricity prices. Ours has been exactly the opposite.
CENATIEMPO: I don't know about ...
PAYNE: Labor is going to create 604,000 jobs, the majority of which will be in the region Zed, and that's in some very detailed modelling.
SESELJA: It's going to take some convincing and there's some Labor luminaries who are taking some convincing, they believe you're modelling at all.
PAYNE: Well, as Chris Bowen said in this case, she's wrong. And that modelling is very comprehensive and from a reputable modelling agency. RepuTex which has been used by the government for their own policies.
CENATIEMPO: We've got to move on. Alicia Payne, Zed Seselja, thanks for your time this morning.