SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

TRANSCRIPT

12 September 2017

DOORSTOP – CANBERRA

TOPICS: MALCOM TURNBULL'S FAILURE ON ENERGY, MARRIAGE EQUALITY PLEBISCITE, MEDIA, MURRAY DARLING BASIN PLAN, NICK XENOPHON, NORTH KOREA

E&OE - PROOF ONLY

SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: First to energy and this Government’s past four years in office. They are now in to their fifth year and still Malcolm Turnbull is blaming everybody else for an energy crisis that’s occurred on his watch.

Remember when the Coalition told you your power prices would go down by $550? How many Australians have seen anything like that? What they have seen under this Government is prices going up, up, up. Under this Government we have seen 4,000 megawatts of power, coal power, exit the system. They’ve got a crisis on their watch. The fact is Malcolm Turnbull is blaming everybody else for an energy crisis that he has presided over and that he has no plan to fix.

It’s a very simple message – Malcolm Turnbull, you’re the Prime Minister, an energy crisis on your watch, you have to have a plan to fix it. And that plan has to involve some investment certainty so we get some investment into new capacity.

Can I also mention the media reform legislation and I have a very simple message for Senator Nick Xenophon. Senator Xenophon we know, Australians know, the dirty deal this Government has done to go after the ABC and SBS in order to get One Nation’s votes.

Nick, you can’t turn a blind eye to this, you can’t wash your hands of this. If you sign up to a deal on media reform that you know has as part of that deal an attack on the ABC and SBS then you’re responsible. And it doesn’t matter if the Government is doing some sneaky thing like delivering the deal for One Nation down the track in a different piece of legislation through the Budget or through an inquiry, you know what is on the table. Nick Xenophon has the opportunity protect the ABC and SBS from One Nation’s attack. He should take it. He should take it. He shouldn’t sign up to this media reform deal without protections for the ABC and SBS.

Finally on water, overnight we’ve seen the Matthews Report into the extraordinary theft of water, mismanagement of water in New South Wales. It makes one thing very clear – you can’t trust the National Party when it comes to the Murray-Darling. Malcolm Turnbull needs to take control of this, He used to be the Water Minister, he used to support reform in the Murray-Darling Basin. What we know is the National Party is undermining this reform. He needs to take control, he needs to take the water responsibilities away from Barnaby Joyce and he needs to have a proper judicial inquiry.

JOURNALIST: The Coalition will be discussing new rules for the postal survey in their party room today. How confident are you these measures might be legislated this week?

WONG: We are in discussions with the Government about these issues. This is a difficult issue isn’t it? Because we are trying to provide some safeguards on a process that we didn’t want, most Australians don’t want and the LGBTIQ community in Australia didn’t want. But we’ll go through our processes.

JOURNALIST: I’d like to ask you about North Korea as well, we seem to get every week renewed calls for sanctions but I want to ask you how effective do you think sanctions really are? Do they hurt the North Korean leadership or the people more, and what are the diplomatic alternatives?

WONG: North Korea is, as I think we all understand, the greatest risk to security, to stability, to peace in our region, but also globally. Unfortunately there are no easy answers to how you deal with a state that is so intent upon acting unlawfully, that is so intent upon not following or on disobeying the UN Security Council. But what we do have to do is to ensure that the international community work together. It is very important that the US, China, Russia, the whole of the international community speak as one voice and act together, whether it is through sanctions, which are obviously important, or through diplomatic means.

JOURNALIST: Do you think sanctions have been effective so far?

WONG: As I said, there are no easy answers when it comes to a state that is so willing to walk away from the international order, that is so willing to violate UN Security Council resolutions. But the most important thing here is to ensure that all nations work together, present a united front and exert diplomatic pressure and economic pressure on North Korea to deescalate. What we do need here is sober heads, and we need calm and resolute diplomacy.