Transcript – AM Agenda – Sky News

Topics:  counter-terrorism, civil liberties, Finkel Report, education funding

E&OE:

 

KIEREN GILBERT:

This is AM Agenda. With me now, Special Minister of State Scott Ryan and Assistant Minister to the Shadow Treasurer Matt Thistlethwaite. Gentlemen, good morning to you both.

 

Senator Ryan, this question, it is a difficult one for democracies to make though that is going to be really discussed by the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader today in relation to the balancing of civil liberties versus security for the broader population. It’s tough, including in terms of communication online.

 

SENATOR SCOTT RYAN:

This balance has been one of the challenges for liberal societies for hundreds of years. Until the 1990s in Victoria you didn’t have to provide your name and address to a police officer when they asked. We’ve had control orders introduced since 2001 because of the threat of terrorism. It’s entirely appropriate that we constantly make the assessments of what we need to do to protect ourselves, balance that against people’s civil liberties and needs to go about their lives given the new threats we face.

 

GILBERT:

You would agree with that? There’s a lot of bipartisanship, from what I’ve seen, in the Opposition Leader’s speech today as well.

 

MATT THISTLETHWAITE:

I do. I think that we need to strike the right balance, certainly there is increasing concern around the globe about terrorist incidents and the methods that terrorist organisations are using, particularly to recruit people. So some of the online platforms, social media platforms, that these organisations are using, we need to make sure that our laws keep pace with these reforms and our security agencies have the necessary measures to target these organisations to bring to account individuals to prosecute them and jail them, if necessary.

 

GILBERT:

A few other issues to talk about, the Finkel Report, the Coalition and the Government, the Liberal Party meeting today. The Energy Minister is going to be briefing MPs, are you confident he can usher this through the Party Room, first and foremost?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

Absolutely. Josh Frydenberg has, in the lead up to the release of the report, and since then, actually explained what we are trying to do, but also the reality we face. The status quo itself has consequences. We need investment in generation, we need to encourage that. And what Josh has managed to do and what he will continue to do over the course of, I imagine the next few months, as well as today, is explain that what the Finkel Review proposes is a new model and a path forward to provide the certainty to get that investment into the generation of electricity because we are a growing country and we need reliable and affordable electricity.

 

GILBERT:

It’s not good enough for Labor just to simply point the finger at some of the divisions within the Coalition is it? The companies concerned, the broader industry, they want certainty here and it’s incumbent upon Labor to try and achieve that as well. It’s not like you haven’t had your own problems when it comes to climate and carbon pricing and so on.

 

THISTLETHWAITE:

We want certainty as well. I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister does show some leadership today and stands up to Tony Abbott and [Craig] Kelly and the like and implements this plan because we do need investment certainty. Labor had that when we were in Government. We put in place the carbon price that was providing that pathway to renewables and investment certainty and guess what, emissions were going down, electricity prices were coming down.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

Electricity prices weren’t coming down mate, you can’t stretch reality that far.

 

GILBERT:

But in terms of certainty, to have proper certainty, given some of these investments are 30, 40, 50 year assets, you need certainty beyond a three year or four year cycle when your mob might be out and the next party’s in.

 

THISTLETHWAITE:

Exactly. We want bipartisanship on this. That’s been our approach for the last decade. If you go back to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, Kevin Rudd worked probably closest with Malcolm Turnbull, as the then-opposition leader, and we thought we had a deal, we thought we had an arrangement and Tony Abbott undermined that. When we were elected in 2010 , the first thing we did was set up a multi-party committee to try and get an agreement on carbon pricing and a pathway to renewables – the only party that refused to partake in that was the Liberal Party under Tony Abbott. We want bipartisanship. We want bipartisanship. We are extending the olive branch to the party.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

I was here in 2009. What Labor sought to do was regulate the entire economy and massively increase electricity prices. Cement makers, anyone who touched any type of economic activity were going to be hit by the CPRS.

In 2010, Matt forgets to say that there was the famous comment in a close election by the prime minister ‘there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead’, and then you try and pretend there was a multi-party committee afterwards. The words you say before an election have to count for something afterwards.

 

GILBERT:

Well let’s talk about that because Tony Abbott said, in his first responses to Ray Hadley yesterday on 2GB, he said that this could be a coal tax, a tax on coal, but if that’s the case …

 

SENATOR RYAN:

Alan Finkel said it’s not and the Minerals Council have said it’s not.

 

GILBERT:

But under his interpretation, if that’s the case, Mr Abbott also oversaw a tax on coal through the Renewable Energy Target. He did, didn’t he?

 

SENATOR RYAN:

Hang on, I’m disagreeing with the proposition you’re putting. Both Alan Finkel and the Minerals Council have said it is not a tax on coal.

 

GILBERT:

No, but if Mr Abbott’s logic is that a clean energy target is a tax on coal then a Renewable Energy Target is a tax on coal.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

I’m not agreeing with the proposition you’re putting Kieren because it isn’t.

 

GILBERT:

Well flat out, it’s not, so at least we agree on that point.

Let’s look at the schools thing because there is a lot of hypocrisy from Labor on this when it comes to the Gonski reforms. Ken Boston, former secretary of the education department in NSW and South Australia, backing the Birmingham proposal, it’s a joke from Labor, isn’t it, that you’re not at least supporting this as a step forward?

 

THISTLETHWAITE:

It’s not a joke for the hundreds of parents I met last week at a forum that was organised …

 

GILBERT:

But they’re getting misinformation. If you’ve got a change in the needs-based direction and a further $18 billion surely you take that and say ‘well we can build on that when we’re next in office’.

 

THISTLETHWAITE:

Kieren I didn’t organise this forum last week, it was organised by the Catholic sector. They put it on because they know they are at risk of losing millions of dollars’ worth of funding for their schools. Now we thought, again, we had a commitment and a bipartisan approach to this. Remember in the lead up to the 2013 election when Christopher Pyne said the Government’s delivering schools funding, we’re on a unity ticket.

 

GILBERT:

But the Government’s delivering the true Gonski proposal and you listen to Ken Boston, you look at what Ken Boston said, one of the eminent education experts in the country, and he says this is the true Gonski approach, not what you’re pedalling.

 

THISTLETHWAITE:

They’re cutting $22 billion from schools. That is not a true Gonski approach, in our view. That’s the view of the teachers, that’s the view of the principals, that’s the view of the parents and that’s the view of many of the academics that work …

 

GILBERT:

It’s actually not the view of all the principals or all the schools.

 

THISTLETHWAITE:

It’s the people I speak to in my electorate and I’ve got the figures that demonstrate the public schools that are going to lose funding. I’ve spoken to the principals who are saying ‘well we can’t plan’.

 

GILBERT:

It’s about protecting the teachers’ union, isn’t it?

 

THISTLETHWAITE:

No, no. I’ve spoken to principals who say ‘we’ve got remedial teachers that are working with kids who are falling behind on literacy and numeracy as a result of the Gonski funding, because of the cuts, we can’t plan for the future on that’.

 

GILBERT:

Just quickly.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

There is $18 billion extra going into education under our plans. Labor is willing to say to kids over the next three or four years ‘because of politics, we are going to sacrifice your educational opportunity so we can keep our bumper stickers’.

 

GILBERT:

Can you get it through? That’s the bottom line because, as I said to Minister Birmingham, it’s fine to have referees like Ken Boston and Gonski, but if you don’t have the numbers, it hits the fence.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

And as Mathias Cormann said this morning, we don’t have a majority in the Senate and we are seeking to engage with all the non-government Senators because Labor is more keen on politics than literacy.

 

GILBERT:

But is there some legitimate point in terms of the funding issue here? There is a huge discrepancy there.

 

SENATOR RYAN:

I’m not going to talk about private discussions with colleagues in the Senate that Senator Birmingham, Mathias Cormann and others are undertaking. Those negotiations will be conducted, we need a majority in the Senate, but we are dedicated to implementing this plan. It’ll see improvements, it’ll see extra resources and it’ll see a needs-based funding approach.

 

GILBERT:

And it could see the Greens, again, being more pragmatic than the Labor Party?

 

THISTLETHWAITE:

We’re standing up for the system we put in place. We had the agreement of the whole sector. We had the agreement of the Parliament and we had the agreement of the opposition at the time, Christopher Pyne said we’re on a unity ticket, and then they went and reneged on that. Because of that, schools now face this uncertainty, the funding is being cut. They’re own Budget papers say this is a saving of $22 billion compared to Labor.

 

GILBERT:

Ken Boston says this is a model which is more true to the original proposal, he’d know wouldn’t he?

 

THISTLETHWAITE:

We based our system on the Gonski findings.

 

GILBERT:

Ken Boston said you distorted it.

 

THISTLETHWAITE:

No, no. We negotiated a deal with all of the sectors …

 

SENATOR RYAN:

27 of them.

 

THISTLETHWAITE:

…that delivered funding for schools and a needs-based model, and now, this Government is undermining that by cutting the funding.

 

GILBERT:

Matt Thistlethwaite, Scott Ryan, appreciate your time.

 

[ENDS]

Author: senatorryan

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