DEL IRANI: Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Steve Ciobo joins us now from Parliament House. Good morning to you.
STEVEN CIOBO: Good morning Del.
DEL IRANI: So I'll talk to you about the One Nation preference in just a moment, but first this morning a diverse alliance of industry is calling for a bipartisan approach to energy policy, just how serious are you about addressing the energy crisis that's going on in this country at the moment?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well look, very serious. The fact is that keeping the lights on, keeping power supply to homes is one of the most fundamental tenets of government. Frankly, the Australian Government has been very concerned at some of the complete failures that we've seen at a state government level. It's well and good for state governments to announce they have all of these renewable energy targets, but the simple fact is that when you actually see the impact that that is having, where it cannot even keep the lights on in people's homes, then you know that it's a problem that needs to be addressed.
DEL IRANI: You're saying that it is state government problem, so how is the Federal Government going to address this issue because a lot of what these experts are saying is it's the uncertainty around the policy that's preventing investment?
STEVEN CIOBO: No, that's not the case at all. If you look at South Australia, for example, what you see is that there's been a big increase in the amount of renewable power. Now people generally get that renewable power is a positive thing. We think that a low carbon future is where we're going as well, but what we need to do is make sure that we address it in a way that doesn't distort the market to such an extent that you actually end up losing base-load power operators as well. Now in South Australia, for example, between day one and day two when it came to renewable energy supply, namely wind power, what we saw was a 95 per cent reduction in wind power that was being used to generate power. And that's why the lights went out on day two. This is part of the reason why the Federal Government is determined to make sure that we can help to drive an agnostic, if you want, an agnostic approach to energy generation that says, look, we'll use clean coal, we'll use gas, we'll use renewables, we'll use whatever is appropriate in order to make sure we can maintain consistency of supply.
DEL IRANI: You're talking about renewable energy, but clean coal is more expensive than renewable energy. Isn't it just better to focus on renewable energy because that is the way of the future?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, I just made the point to you that issue with renewable energy was that we actually lost base-load power generation. When you have 95 per cent volatility in the generation of renewable energy you can see what the problem is. So what we need to put emphasis on is storage because you can have renewable energy but if you can't store that power then there is a problem. Take even, for example, solar. Now in Queensland, we've got a high concentration of solar panels on people's roofs. What that means is that often during the traditional peak demand periods during the day a lot of people actually aren't even calling on the national grid, they're actually generating their own power from their rooftops. And then when they're actually wanting to draw down power is actually at night when traditionally that's been a low power demand period, so you can see the kind of volatility that gets built into the system.
DEL IRANI: Alright, Steve Ciobo, just changing gears for a moment. The Fraser Review is due out today, this week I should say, and the review, of course for those who might not know, it is about the governance of industry super funds. Your colleague Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer is already questioning the independence of this report before it has even been released. Is this reflective of the Government's view? Do you think this whole exercise has been useless?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well I think we need to wait and see what's contained in the review and the basis upon which recommendations are made. But as a Government we have been very clear that we expect industry superannuation providers to, for example, have independent directors; to make sure that they are consistent in terms of their governance approach with what we'd expect more broadly across the sector.
DEL IRANI: Alright, let's talk about the deal that has been made in Western Australia. The Liberal Party has, of course, signed a preference deal with One Nation. How likely is it now that a similar deal might be signed in Queensland?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well the way that it works in the Liberal Party is we're a federal body, a federated party, which means that each of the states make their own decisions about what they do with preferences. Obviously I'm a member of the Federal Liberal Party and I'm a member in Queensland of the LNP so the decisions in Queensland will be decisions taken by the LNP, and ultimately that comes down to it being the party organisation's decision not the decision of us as federal parliamentarians.
DEL IRANI: But what is the view as a federal parliamentarian that you're seeing a deal being made in WA? I mean this is going to be putting people within your Coalition like the Nationals, particularly off side wouldn't it? Wouldn't people like Barnaby Joyce be feeling double crossed by this move?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well in Queensland, of course, as I said we've got the Liberal National Party so I don't think there's any concern that the Nationals will feel double crossed in Queensland because it’s all part of the one party.
DEL IRANI: But what about in WA?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well I mean look I can't comment on WA. I'm not from Western Australia. I can't really comment on the reasons why they've taken their decisions.
DEL IRANI: What about the federal implications of this? What about federal implications for this? This could trickle down.
STEVEN CIOBO: Well I think that in terms of the federal position and in terms of, as I said in Queensland, those decisions are taken by the state bodies. Now One Nation's a different political party to what it was 20 odd years ago. At the end of the day what I'm focused on as a Member of Federal Parliament is getting as many votes and as much support as I possibly can for the Federal Liberal Party. That's what I'm about and I want to try to take votes from One Nation, from Labor, from the Greens, from whoever I can and have them come to our Government so we have strong, stable government, and more importantly I want our policies to be broadly appealing so Australians know that it's reflective one, of their views and values but secondly, will put us on the right course for a stronger Australia.
DEL IRANI: So do you support this preference deal with One Nation?
STEVEN CIOBO: Which preference deal is that, the one in WA?
DEL IRANI: The one in WA. The one in WA and if there is one in Queensland. I mean is this a move now from the Liberal Party federally that you are going to be looking more at One Nation as a preference?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well Del there's a lot of ‘ifs’ in your question with the greatest respect. If this, if that, if the other, I mean -
DEL IRANI: What is your view Steven Ciobo? What's your view on this?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well let me be very plain about this. My view is our primary objective, and for me as a member of the Federal Liberal Party is to get as many votes as I possibly can reflected through good policy by the Federal Liberal Party. Now, of course, like any political party we have got to talk to other political parties about what we do with preferences. As I said, One Nation is a different political party. It's clearly got in Queensland a very strong base support now that's growing and we, of course, are watching that. We want to make sure that the views and values that they're putting out, they're annunciating, are views and values with clearly resonate with some people, and so we'll look to that but we'll also look at what we do with our own policy, to make sure that our own policy is reflective of a broad base of support across the Australian population.
DEL IRANI: Alright Steve Ciobo we've run out of time. Thank you so much for your time this morning.
STEVEN CIOBO: It's a pleasure.
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