Sky News First Edition – Energy Prices, China, TikTok, Richard Marles



Subjects: Energy crisis, China-Australia relations, TikTok, Richard Marles

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Peter good morning to you, yeah, so Richard Marles has called the forward theatre commander, no different to Dutton, I mean by frustrating the Global Times doesn’t that mean you’re on the right track? 

PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: Pete, good morning. You said it, I was going to say does anyone even believe the Global Times? It is a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party. I reckon that journo who wrote it has a pretty deep misunderstanding of how our political system works. That’s half the problem, isn’t it? Yeah, but look, take those comments for what they are, they’re ridiculous. What we’ve been doing as a government and the Minister for Defence has had a meeting with his counterpart, the Chinese Defence Minister, which is significant because it’s the first one in three years. Our Foreign Minister has met with their Foreign Minister Wang – first time in three years. So, there’s first steps in stabilising the relationship and I wouldn’t take much notice from the Global Times. I don’t even think people in China take much notice of the Global Times. 

STEFANOVIC: Well, I mean they talk about ties being repaired, but ties have not been repaired. Don’t you think there’s this weird kind of passive aggressive thing going on with China since you were elected? 

KHALIL: Look, I think what needs to happen frankly is – and the ball is very much in China’s court, so to speak to you, is that the tennis jargon – they need to lift the trade sanctions, the trade barriers, they need to release Australians held in arbitrary detention and that would be a significant step forward in the relationship. We are open, as we should be, to having a mutually beneficial relationship. It’s economically important for both of our countries and advantageous, and we’ve taken those first steps to stabilise the relationship. That’s what we want to see. We want to cool the temperature down and so that they obviously need to consider what needs to happen for the next step to be taken.

STEFANOVIC: They need to make the changes, we don’t, right? I mean, it’s not like we’re not going to overturn the Huawei thing. We’re not going to change the rules around foreign ownership or foreign investment. So that’s just that’s just how it is, that the changes need to come from their side.

KHALIL: Yeah, well look as the Prime Minister said Pete, very recently, we’re not responding to any demands. We will do what is in Australia’s national interest and that’s what we’ve been doing and, as the PM has said, China has changed, that’s been a significant shift over the last five years. We’re trying to stabilise that relationship now and those first steps are important, first steps, frankly, for the Minister for Defence, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs to have their first meetings with their counterparts in what, three years. That’s a significant yeah first step towards stabilizing. But yes, we would like to see China to take a decision to remove those trade barriers and also some movement on the release of Australians held in detention in China. 

STEFANOVIC: When that was raised by Penny Wong, I mean, has word filtered through to you at all on how that was received? Is China receptive to that? Are they open to at least doing, that when it comes to Cheng Li?

KHALIL: Well, that’s a bit above my pay grade Pete. You’re the journo you should be investigating that. But look, in all seriousness and it is a very serious issue, Cheng Li and Doctor Yan – to name two Australians who are detained in China – it was very significant that our Foreign Minister raised it directly with the Chinese Foreign Minister. It’s a very significant thing to do that, an important thing to do that because there has been some real concern from Cheng Li’s family and Doctor Yang’s family and all Australians, frankly, don’t want to see the situation that they’re in. By the way, I should say there are many other Australians detained overseas there is another case in Iraq, Robert Pether, who is in Iraqi jail. That’s a significant case, and I know our Prime Minister has spoken to the Iraqi Prime Minister on that and we need some movement on that and there are many other Australians like Sean Turnell who’s in Myanmar held by the military junta. So, we’re working very assiduously and these are hard situations, complicated situations to try and help those Australians.

STEFANOVIC: OK. OK, just a couple of quick ones before we go Pete, there’s more warnings this morning over gas supplies in Victoria – in your state – are you expecting AEMO to intervene again? 

KHALIL: Well, look, there’s obviously somewhat of a perfect storm in energy markets at the moment. And look this has been undermined by, frankly, chaos in policy for the last decade, and you know, you’ll say the previous government didn’t know that prices were going to go up on the 1st of July and they did, they hid that information from the public. That’s really important to note, and we’ve had a shortage of gas. We’ve got three times higher usage in winter, it’s pretty cold down here in Melbourne, as you know, we’ve got three times higher usages than normal, we’ve got booming exports, and we’ve of course got the sanctions on Russia, which has squeezed gas supply globally on top of everything else. That’s kind of a perfect storm. And of course, you guys in NSW you don’t produce gas, so you’ve drawn on Victorian supplies as well, so that’s how had an impact. I’ve got to say, the Energy Minister in the Albanese Government did hit the ground running and on the short term they worked, obviously hand in glove with States and industry around the rebates. It’s a difficult period, so encouraging people to take up those energy rebates to relieve the pressure to get that temporary relief. But there is medium and long term policy work that has to be done around getting more energy into the market, more cheaper energy into the market, more renewables into the market to relieve that pressure in the medium and long term.