E&OE…
Kieran Gilbert

Now back to Local news and Zed Seselja, Assistant Social Services Minister, with me this morning.  You were reported in the Daily Telegraph as holding concerns about the clean energy target and the Finkel… model.  It’s not really a policy it’s just a report to Government at this stage.

Senator Zed Seselja

Well that’s right Kieran.  There’s going to be all sorts of speculation pieces in the paper.  What we’re going through at the moment is a debate, consideration of the Finkel review, which I think is an outstanding piece of work.  It’s now up to the Government to look at all aspects of it.  Have a pretty detailed Party Room discussion.  There will no doubt be further Party Room consideration.

But of course the Cabinet will now consider those processes.  But one of the things that absolutely needs to be said is that all members of the Government, whether they are backbench or frontbench, are absolutely committed to lower energy prices, are committed to energy security and of course meeting our targets.  And broadly in that order.

So, we’re having that debate.  On the Labor Party side they’ve got a big renewable energy target but no way to deliver it and nothing to say on how you keep energy prices down and how you deliver energy…

Kieran Gilbert

Is the Prime Minister handling this the right way?

Senator Zed Seselja

Absolutely.  I mean the Prime Minister has been consulted, as has Josh…

Kieran Gilbert

He’s not losing control of the process?

Senator Zed Seselja

Well no. Because this is a challenging issue and it is much better to listen to the colleagues to put it to the colleagues and that’s exactly what the prime Minister and Josh Frydenberg have done.  I think Josh Frydenberg did an outstanding job in recent days in dealing with colleagues, in talking colleagues through the challenges.  I think that was actually a really good session.  And of course there’s going to be debate about these things, that’s a really good thing.

I think in the end we’ll get to a really good landing point where we can keep energy prices as low as possible, where we can make sure the lights stay on, and of course we can continue to meet our targets.

Kieran Gilbert

From what my understanding of what the minister told the party room, that you could see black outs up and down the Eastern Seaboard by the end of the year, unless something’s done.

Senator Zed Seselja

And that’s been the ideological experiment from State Labor Governments in particular, South Australia being the most egregious.  And Federal Labor wants to follow them down that path with an unfunded, ill-thought-out 50% renewable energy target.

So we’re going through a process which is all about making sure we have security, we have stability in prices and we try and keep prices as low as we can, whilst meeting all of our obligations.  That’s what a good Government should do and that’s what we are getting on with the job and doing.

Kieran Gilbert

Are some of your colleagues blinded by an almost zealotry when it comes to coal?  That you need to put that to one side.  If people want to invest in that they will, if companies want to invest they will.  You can’t force that to happen can you?

Senator Zed Seselja

I don’t think any of our colleagues are blinded by zealotry.  I think that ideology is all on the Labor side and the Greens on this.  They have drunk the cool aid, which says it’s all about…

Kieran Gilbert

Some of your colleagues, to be honest, sound like zealots when it comes to coal.

Senator Zed Seselja

Well, what many of my colleagues would say, and really all members of the Government would say, is that coal is an important part of our energy mix.  And exactly what that looks like going forward, obviously that’s an important part of the discussion we’re having now isn’t it.  What are the investment incentives? What are the parameters going forward, so there can be investment?

But, you know, I heard Tony Burke saying, if you have coal that you can’t be committed to lowering emissions. Well look around the world.  The way that many countries are lowering their emissions is by building new, far more efficient coal fired power plants.  And they’re often buying Australian coal to do it.  You know, that’s a big part of our export market.  So it is one of the ways, far more efficient coal energy than we have today, is one of the ways you can reduce emissions, along with renewables, along with other sources of energy.

Kieran Gilbert

You’re confident you can navigate this?  Because talking to a few of your colleagues last night at the Midwinter Ball, there’s not a lot of optimism right now about this policy.  But you seem to have that this morning.

Senator Zed Seselja

Look, I think we’ve got a really good process.  I think even those who are perhaps most critical of the Finkel review have acknowledged that there are some outstanding aspects of it.  Most particularly, looking at having the back-up when we do renewables, having the notice when we’re going to shut-down power stations.

So I think even the critics within the Government would say that this is an outstanding piece of work.  There’s going to be disagreement about various aspects and that’s the process we’re going through.  So yes, I am very confident.  And I’m confident that by doing it, by bringing the Party Room with us we can come to a good landing.

Kieran Gilbert

The media reforms go to parliament today.  Minister Mitch Fifield says that you’ll lose diversity of opinion and media coverage, if you lose a network, that’s probably a bit premature, Channel 10 is going through some problems but likely to survive.  What’s your argument when it comes to the crossbench.

Senator Zed Seselja

Well the crossbench is the Labor Party.  The Labor Party appears to be stuck in the 1980s on media reform.  I mean if you believe the Labor Party, Scott and Charlene just got married, or we maybe just won the America’s Cup.

But there’s a thing called the internet that came along and has changed the media landscape and perhaps the Labor Party needs to consider that as they consider these laws.  The likes of Google are out there and Facebook and all sorts of large multinational media proprietors in a new landscape, and that’s what we’re seeking to deal with.  I think that people of good will should see that.  I think when you’ve got virtually the entire industry saying we need this reform.  I would say to the Labor Party to get on board.

Kieran Gilbert

Minister, thanks for your time.

Scott and Charlene. We would have had some decent mullets this morning, I would have thought.

Senator Zed Seselja

Look, I haven’t had a mullet for a long time.

Kieran Gilbert

Thanks for that.  Appreciate it.

[ENDS]

Contact for
Senator Zed Seselja , Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs
Veronica Hayes
Media and Community Affairs Adviser
veronica.hayes@aph.gov.au
0401 815 853