Interview with Kieran Gilbert - AM Agenda, Sky News


Topics: Knighthood for Prince Phillip, Andrew Leigh Op-Ed, Labor’s carbon and mining taxes

KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda, with me this morning Liberal frontbencher Scott Ryan and also Labor frontbencher Matt Thistlethwaite, gentlemen good morning.

SENATOR RYAN: Good morning Kieran

GILBERT: Senator Ryan first to you, what do you make of the fallout of the Prime Minister’s decision to make the Duke of Edinburgh a Knight in the Order of Australia?

RYAN: Well look, the Prime Minister made clear when he announced the reinstitution of these awards last year that these were a decision he would take. I am not going to join in public commentary on various awards, that’s not the most important part of Australia Day. The most important part of Australia Day are the thousands of people that became new citizens of Australia and formally joined our community in the many community festivals and functions that take place around country.

GILBERT: But this is Australia’s highest honour now and it has gone to someone who is not an Australian I guess that has left a lot of your colleagues incredulous.

RYAN: Well look, the policy I have when I talk about the honours is that I will make comment on those people I have met or worked with. I have met the Young Australian of the Year, Drisana Levitzke-Gray the deaf advocate she is a very impressive young woman. I, like many other members of Parliament have met with, spoke with, and some have had the privilege of working closely with Angus Houston. I don’t think anyone would question his service to our country both in uniform and without. And as a general policy I have Kieran, I will talk about those people who I know and who I have worked with. 

GILBERT: I am sure Matt Thistlethwaite won’t have any problems in giving some commentary, but I guess this is the point that the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women made earlier, Michaelia Cash, Prince Phillip has made a contribution of over three quarters of a century to this country, well to public life and more than 60 years to this nation as the husband of our Monarch.

MATT THISTLETHWAITE: Kieran the appointment of the Duke of Edinburgh to the highest honour in Australia is the first appointment to the Abbott Aristocracy. This reflects the Prime Minister’s personal fascination with the British Monarchy rather than what is in the best interests of Australia. I was personally affronted for all of those hardworking volunteers in my community, literally hundreds of them that give their time day in day out to help others that don’t get the big incomes that the Duke of Edinburgh receives, or accolades that he has. I was personally affronted for them, what an offensive thing to do to appoint a foreign Monarch on Australia’s national day, our national day. Surely the Prime Minister could have appointed one of our own on our national day. It also overshadowed…

GILBERT: Inaudible… The Queen remains our monarch to this day, so while they are, while Prince Phillip is not Australian, the Queen does remain Australia’s monarch

THISTLETHWAITE: And he has received I bet hundreds of accolades from various British establishments and other nations and he is paid quite handsomely for doing his job, for marrying into the royal family. We have hundreds in my electorate and throughout Australia who volunteer their time, work day in day out and don’t receive any of those accolades. It was our national day surely that is an opportunity for the Prime Minister to award one of our highest honours to one of our own. It clearly represents Kieran a lack of judgement and demonstrates just how out of touch our Prime Minister is.

GILBERT: Well a number of your Coalition colleagues Senator Ryan have actually expressed that sentiment privately, but publicly if you look at a couple of the comments made; Darren Chester a National Party MP in Victoria said that he was disappointed that he had to talk about that yesterday, about this knighthood when he wanted the focus on Rosie Batty, the anti-violence campaigner. Two other LNP members from Queensland, Warren Entsch and Ewen Jones, both critical at the Prime Minister’s decision. So a couple speaking publicly, not to mention the many speaking privately in criticism of this decision.

RYAN: Well one of the great things about the Liberal Party Kieran is that we believe in vibrant debate. No one ever agrees with each other all the time, people don’t agree with me, I am sure people don’t agree with other ministers and occasionally people disagree with the Prime Minister. A vibrant debate and disagreement is not division, it is actually a sign that the party is healthy. Matt there, I wish he got as outraged about some of the things Labor did to his constituents; Matt’s mock outrage about this doesn't’t resonate. People can have different opinions on a given issue, it doesn't’t mean that they are always permanently outraged and angry and affronted in the way that Matt Thistlethwaite claims.

THISTLETHWAITE: Well Scott I was merely representing…

GILBERT: …Matt Thistlethwaite your response to that.

THISTLETHWAITE: Well Kieran I was merely representing the outrage that was reflected to me by members of our community yesterday at citizenship ceremonies that I attended in Randwick and Botany, yesterday at the BBQ for Australia Day that I attended in our community yesterday, people just couldn't’t get over the fact that the Prime Minister had made a severe error of judgement  in appointing a member of the British Monarchy to this highest accolade when there are literally hundreds of Australians who are deserving of this title.

GILBERT: Alright, let’s move on, I want to ask you about an opinion piece written by the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh this morning, talking about the hole in the Government’s Budget largely, and points to the scrapping of both the mining tax and the carbon tax. Matt Thistlethwaite this begs the question is this where Labor is heading to reinstate, if not these exact taxes something similar on both fronts.

THISTLETHWAITE: Well Andrew Leigh has raised a very important point, if you look at the difference in revenue between the May Budget and MYEFO, the fall in revenue is almost exactly equal to the revenue that was raised by the carbon price and mining taxes collectively. What we have seen in Australia since the carbon price has been removed is that emissions have gone up, revenue has gone down, so our environment is worse off, our economy is worse off and it is something that our kids will pay dearly for in the future. It is bad public policy and Andrew Leigh has pointed it out in his opinion piece.

GILBERT: So is that where you are heading, back to a carbon tax and a mining tax, given that is where you say the hole, the hole can be attributed to?

THISTLETHWAITE: Well ah Bill Shorten has clearly said that Labor believes in a market based mechanism for pricing carbon as the most effective way of reducing carbon emissions in our economy, and that worked. When we established the carbon price we drove down emissions in our economy, since it has been removed carbon emissions have gone back up, it has been replaced by a scheme Kieran that costs billions of dollars and raises no revenue.

GILBERT: Ok. Senator Ryan your reaction to that given that the tens of billions of dollars in revenue forgone, and the Government’s current challenge of trying to return to surplus in the foreseeable future.

RYAN: Well Bill Shorten could learn a bit from Andrew Leigh which is a bit of honesty. I mean, Bill Shorten uses mealy-mouthed terms that Matt just mentioned there like ‘market based mechanism to price carbon’. Andrew Leigh calls it a Carbon Tax which is what it is. It’s a myth to say that the carbon tax wasn't’t hurting Australian business. Every single thing manufactured in Australia had a carbon tax price. Every single thing imported didn't't’t. So a car made in Australia had a carbon tax component, a car imported from Korea or Japan didn't’t. A television, if there were any made in Australia today, would be made with a carbon tax built into it, you could import one that didn't’t.
Australian business was hurting under the carbon tax, and we were actually penalising ourselves and making our competitors’ jobs cheaper. The most important point here is that Andrew Leigh has been honest and admitted that Labor is about tax increases. In only one of the six years where Wayne Swan was treasurer did tax receipts go backwards. They inherited a budget of 290 billion dollars that was 20 billion dollars in surplus, they left one of 400 billion dollars that 30 billion dollars in deficit. It was 100 billion dollars bigger, yet they still managed to spend more.

GILBERT: Gents we are out of time, Scott Ryan and Matt Thistlethwaite appreciate it.


RYAN: Thanks Kieran


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