THURSDAY, 6 DECEMBER 2018
SUBJECTS: Liberals’ plans to sell public energy assets; National Accounts; Adani; Emma Husar; Removing exemptions for discrimination against LGBTIQ students.
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: You can't trust Scott Morrison and his out-of-touch Liberal Party with Queensland's public energy assets. Under Scott Morrison and the LNP, two things are guaranteed - they will try to privatise Queensland's public energy assets, and power prices will go up. No matter how many times they try, in their humiliating fashion, to clean up this disastrous divestment policy in the pages of The Courier-Mail this morning, Queenslanders know that the LNP under Scott Morrison will try to privatise their energy assets. The Queensland people have said repeatedly that they don't want to see that happen, but Scott Morrison is too out of touch to listen to them.
Even the LNP leader in Queensland - the LNP leader in Queensland! - has rightly pointed out that Scott Morrison is disastrously out of touch with the views of Queenslanders who have said time and time again, get your hands off our public energy assets. Scott Morrison is the Campbell Newman of Canberra. He's been caught out trying to privatise public energy assets in Queensland. Queenslanders have rejected that policy again and again.
We call on Scott Morrison to stop poking Queenslanders in the eye with the "big stick". Don't turn the "big stick" into a big garage sale of public energy assets in Queensland, and indeed in WA and in Tasmania and elsewhere in Australia. This policy is a disaster for Queensland and a disaster for Australia. It can't be fixed, it can't be tidied up, it can't be meddled with. It needs to be abandoned and Josh Frydenberg and Scott Morrison should stand up today and say, look, we stuffed this up really badly, it's time for us to go back to the drawing board.
We call on Scott Morrison to come to the table and to work with Labor on our carefully-considered and sensible energy plan, which means more renewables and lower prices for Australian families and businesses.
We also had yesterday the release of important National Accounts data. What we've seen in them is the economy is slowing because the Morrison Government is too divided and too distracted to focus on the things that really matter. The Morrison Government has dropped the ball on the economy. That's why we have slowing growth.
The National Accounts were defined by a triple whammy of weak wages, weak spending and weak saving at the household level. Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg are too out of touch to understand that the economy is not working for middle Australia. We've got a slowing economy, weak wages, weak savings, weak spending, and that's because we have a desperately divided and dysfunctional Morrison LNP Government here in Canberra.
JOURNALIST: Speaking of Queensland and energy, what are your thoughts on Adani announcing last week that they're going ahead immediately?
CHALMERS: Since the beginning we've really said two things about the Adani mine. We said that it shouldn't have public money invested in it, and we've won that argument. We've also said that the mine, as it was originally proposed, wouldn't go ahead; and it's not going ahead as it was originally proposed. This is a very different proposal which is on the table now.
JOURNALIST: Do you back that proposal that's on the table?
CHALMERS: We don't back any public money going to Adani and we've said that if and when we come to Government next year, then obviously we'll deal with whatever issues may arise at the time. But if it's going ahead in this reduced way - a much different proposal than what was originally on the table - then that will go ahead over the next few months, and if there are decisions to be taken if and when we win office next year, then we'll take those decisions in a carefully considered way.
JOURNALIST: Should Emma Husar be re-endorsed by the Labor Party?
CHALMERS: That's really a matter for the New South Wales branch of the party. I think Emma is a good person who's been through a difficult time. She announced that she wasn't re-contesting and I think the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party started the process of finding another candidate. I've got enough on my plate in my job to worry about the pre-selection processes of the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party.
JOURNALIST: It is embarrassing for Parliament to not get the law changes through to protect gay school students before Christmas?
CHALMERS: We want to end the discrimination against gay kids in our schools. We've had the same position really all along. We want to get that done, and our problem with the current legislation that Scott Morrison pulled out of his pocket yesterday, is that it just replaces one form of discrimination against kids with another form of discrimination against kids, and we can't have that.