Sky News Interview: Singapore Summit, Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, Queensland Budget



SUBJECTS: Singapore Summit, Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, Queensland Budget

LAURA JAYES, HOST: Now time for Craig Kelly and Peter Khalil. Gentleman, thanks so much for your time. Like everyone else I’m sure that your eyeballs were firmly glued to the screen – watching Sky News, of course, yesterday – as everything unfolded in Singapore. It was quite amazing to see the symbolism in it, yes. And then we saw an hour long media conference with Donald Trump who was clearly lapping up the attention of the international media. Take a quick look.

DONALD TRUMP, US PRESIDENT (footage): Chairman Kim and I just signed a joint statement in which he reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. We also agreed to vigorous negotiations to implement the agreement as soon as possible and he wants to do that. This isn’t the past, this isn’t another administration that never got it started and therefore never got it done.

JAYES: Donald Trump perhaps filling in the lines, or reading between the lines, of what wasn’t actually in that signed document. Peter Khalil, what did you make of it. Are you a glass half empty man here or a glass half full man?

PETER KHALIL, FEDERAL LABOR MEMBER FOR WILLS: Hi Laura. Yeah, look, it depends on your perspective but I think when you take away the politics of it, the domestic politics in the US at least, I think Antony Blinken who was Obama’s deputy secretary of state summed it up when he said, ‘we’re in a better place today after this summit than we were before the summit’, and I think that’s a fair assessment. Obviously this is going to be a long process. There’s going to be a lot of challenges and obstacles ahead to try and get genuine, verifiable denuclearisation. There’s a lot of challenges to that. But we are in a better spot today and it was a historic summit. I actually particularly liked the film. I don’t know if you’ve got a chance to see this…

JAYES: Oh, we do!

KHALIL: A little four minute film that Donald Trump showed Kim Jong-un. It even had a Dennis Rodman slam dunking in the film at one point and the best line in it was ‘two men, two leaders, one destiny’. It was like, I’ve never seen anything like that. It was completely outside the diplomatic playbook. It was like a hard sell by a property developer. But the thing is it may work because this is how he can reach Kim. To be realistic though, Laura, Kim Jong-un is looking for some sort of economic benefit out of this and the security guarantees. That’s what he wants. So I’m not sure that prosperity for all of North Korea is where Kim’s looking. I think he wants to actually enrich his elite around the military and make sure that he has enough money coming in from South Korean and other companies to improve his economy, but retain the iron fist over his regime. That’s what he’d be looking for. And of course the US is looking for genuine and verifiable denuclearisation. It may not necessary mean elimination. It may be a constraining of their weapons that they may get.

JAYES: That video that you speak of. I’m glad you mentioned it, Peter Khalil. It was worthy of a great Hollywood movie trailer. Let’s just show our viewers some of that. It was very long. I think it was about three or four minutes long. Here’s just a taste of what it was.

VOICE OVER (footage): A new story. A new beginning. One of peace. Two men. Two leaders. One destiny. A story about a special moment in time. When a man is presented with one chance that may never be repeated. What will he choose? To choose vision and leadership? Or not.

KHALIL: [laughter]

JAYES: It was quite something. There you go. Two men, two leaders, one destiny. Craig Kelly, do you think that got Kim Jong-un over the line?

CRAIG KELLY, LIBERAL MP: Oh, look, there’s a lot of things that have done it. Yesterday was truly a historic day for the world. And all praise and all credit has to go to President Donald Trump. We’ve seen President Trump vilified from pillar to post. Now I would hope that some of Trump’s biggest critics actually just sit back and say thank you Mr President for a job well done.

JAYES: Well, there has been a lot of praise for him, including from our own Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, today. Take a look.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, PRIME MINISTER (footage): He’s giving it a red hot go in his way, as a very persuasive, very powerful dealmaker. It’s a very personal approach. It’s not one that’s been undertaken before but, you know what, the other approaches haven’t worked. There are plenty of risks in doing nothing. So give Trump credit for having a go at this.

JAYES: There you go. Firm friends. Donald Trump, Malcolm Turnbull. Who would have thought?

KHALIL: It’s amazing, isn’t it?

JAYES: And Craig Kelly, I reckon Malcolm Turnbull has even gone further than other world leaders have been willing to in his praise of Donald Trump.

KELLY: And so he should. The Prime Minister is exactly right. President Trump deserves enormous praise and credit for what he’s done. And I think there’s some other groups in our society. Maybe the New South Wales upper house of parliament that passed that disgraceful motion criticising Donald Trump. That might be now… show a bit of contrition and congratulate him on the work that he’s done so far.

JAYES: Peter Khalil?

KHALIL: You shouldn’t get ahead of yourself mate. There are serious issues about this as well.

KELLY: [interrupting] Oh, of course, Peter. No one’s….

KHALIL: Hold on, let me finish. The dilemma that President Trump has is this. And ironically what he might be able to achieve with Kim and North Korea is a constraining rather than an elimination of the nuclear program. And that very much looks like the Iran deal that President Trump is trying to get rid of. So he has some real problems and definitely the devil is going to be in the detail. To verify is going to be immensely difficult. And in some senses, Kim Jong-un holds a lot of the cards here, because if Trump is using this to get the praise that he’s getting from Craig Kelly and Malcolm Turnbull and the domestic political bounce, then okay, that makes sense from his perspective. But the actual verifiable denuclearisation of North Korea is a long, long way down the track and it’s going to be very difficult to get there.

JAYES: Sure, but Peter Khalil, do you give Donald Trump some credit. Do you prescribe to this idea that his unorthodoxy has got us to the point where we saw the two leaders meet for the first time in history?

KHALIL: Yeah, the unorthodox approach has got this meeting up. Whether the unorthodox approach and the sort of deal making that President Trump uses will get the outcome that’s necessary for a peaceful and stable and prosperous Korean Peninsula is yet to be determined. And I would say also, let’s not forget that Kim Jong-un is a dictator who has killed thousands of people in his regime, in the country. His regime has been responsible for horrific human rights abuses and one part of this unorthodox approach that made be uncomfortable was the elevation of Kim Jong-un into this sort of hero figure in this video. So yes, on one hand it does work to get the meeting and get progress going forward, but let’s be very careful and circumspect about where these outcomes will… or when they’ll actually come.

JAYES: Yeah, he was elevated to statesman yesterday and we’re talking about a country where there is no access to food for many people. They go to great lengths to pump propaganda right over the capital of Pyongyang and then if you’re a part of the loyalists, the few loyalists of the Kim regime. Well, you are rewarded with the trappings of living in a big city and, I mean, it’s just weird. I wouldn’t call it Pleasantville. But there are some serious human rights issues in North Korea. Now let’s move on. We’re going to be speaking to Michael Kirby in about an hour from now. He was leading a UN report into human rights in North Korea in 2014, so we’ll get the perspective from him a little later on. Let’s talk about the Royal Commission now into institutional child sex abuse. We heard from the Prime Minister, Christian Porter, Dan Tehan, earlier today. The recommendations, well, the Government is going to adopt most of them. There will be a national apology and there will also be a special body set up to make sure that this kind of thing never happens again. Here’s Dan Tehan on the issue. Particularly when it comes to the Northern Territory.

DAN TEHAN, SOCIAL SERVICES MINISTER (footage):  We do need to take action and we are working with the Northern Territory Government. The Prime Minister has spoken to the Chief Minister directly about this issue. Ultimately though, the Northern Territory Government has to take responsibility and has to act.

JAYES: Craig Kelly, a national apology. How important do you think this is?

KELLY: Yeah, look, I think that’s fair enough. That was one of the recommendations that came out of the Royal Commission. The Government has accepted the vast majority of those recommendations. The others we are looking at. But Laura, at the end of the day, a lot of this is just simply paedophilia. And we must have zero tolerance whatsoever and stamp down on any paedophilia with absolute… you know, the highest laws that we can possibly do.

JAYES: Is your Government doing that?

KELLY: Well, Laura, a lot of these are state government regulations. We need to make sure that we are working with the states. This Royal Commission has been, I think, a good process. The apology will be a good process to get on with the healing. We have to make sure that things like this never, ever are allowed to happen again.

JAYES: Craig’s right, isn’t he, Peter Khalil? But when it comes to the Northern Territory, there are jurisdictional issues here. This is part of the state’s jurisdiction but our reporter Matt Cunningham is reporting some horrific things from the Northern Territory. We’re talking about two and four year olds being raped and it is flat out paedophilia. Does the federal government need to step in and do more?

KHALIL: Yeah, well, it’s absolutely horrible and I think with the Royal Commission it has been a very important process and a national apology, as Craig said, will be very, very important. And I think the institutions that have been part of this process, joining the redress scheme, that’s very, very important as well for the victims and survivors of sexual abuse. And I would say, and this is on a bipartisan note, I know Jenny Macklin has worked closely with Dan Tehan and all credit to Dan, as the Minister, who has progressed this and worked so hard on this. I know he’s coming from the right place and he’s working very, very hard to progress this. So I tip my hat to Dan Tehan for the work that he has done to move this forward.

JAYES: Absolutely. I hate to move off this issue too quickly but I want to talk about the Queensland budget as well. We saw Jackie Trad hand down her first budget yesterday and she’s delivered a surplus. A surprise surplus, thanks to Coal royalties. This is what she had to say.

JACKIE TRAD, QUEENSLAND TREASURER (footage): The Queensland economy continues to successfully shift from the big economic gains of never before seen resources boom that with it brought massive investment, big infrastructure and jobs, and wages growth. Business investment is rebounding, following the construction of the liquefied natural gas infrastructure. It’s supported by a range of renewable energy projects that will be a key driver of economic growth.

JAYES: Craig Kelly, you couldn’t see him, but he was shaking his head during Jackie Trad speaking there.

KHALIL: He’s always shaking his head!

KELLY: Firstly, I think the people of Queensland are starting to wake up to the nightmare scenario they would face with Jackie Trad running Queensland and the potential of Bill Shorten running Canberra….

JAYES: She’s just delivered a surplus.

KHALIL: What are you talking about?

KELLY: What we have seen there. The surplus. They’ve got a billion dollars extra from royalties from coal. See, when all these people running around in Queensland went to close down all the coal mines, saying how terrible coal is, how we shouldn’t invest in coal and they’ve just got a billion dollars additional in royalties from coal.

KHALIL: Calm down, Craig. Can I…

KELLY: [interrupting] and that is what… you know… if everyone is going to… I’d like to see all these people complaining about the coal mines in Queensland. Let them give that money back. All the benefits that they are going to get.

KHALIL: A couple of points there, Laura, just in response to Craig’s huffing and puffing. First of all, you’re not from Queensland Craig and I think the people of Queensland are the ones to judge their own state government and they’re probably pretty pleased they’ve got Anastasia

Palaszczuk and Jackie Trad managing their economy…

KELLY: Wait until they’ve got Bill Shorten in combination

KHALIL: They have a surplus in their budget. Some of that is from the fact that coal prices have remained high, but some of it is also from $650 million in new taxes that have come through as well, including the waste levy and other things like that. So they’re managing their economy. They’re getting results for Queensland and for Queenslanders. And the second point I’d make is just calm down about that because, you know, wherever your state government is going to be getting their levies, their taxes and so on, it could be just as true in the future when you’ve got renewable infrastructure and other sources that can also be levied in tax. So it’s not… you’re taking a period of time in history and trying to expand that to a future point. It doesn’t work that way.

JAYES: Sure, but isn’t there a bigger point here that perhaps the voters of Queensland, Peter Khalil, will be looking at. Saying, well, you know, Queensland, on the one hand, the Queensland Government wanted to see Adani go ahead but they weren’t willing to allow federal government money. A billion dollars in a federal government loan to be paid to Adani. But they’re happy to take coal royalties to boost their budget bottom line. Is there a little bit of hypocrisy there?

KHALIL: Well, no. This budget has nothing to do with Adani. Clearly Adani doesn’t exist right now, so the budget is not gaining from Adani and frankly, if you’re going to sell to…

JAYES: [interrupting] Sure, but you’re splitting hairs about my point.

KHALIL: No, I’m not splitting hairs at all. Any Australian, or even any Queenslander, would say, is it value for money for the Australian Government, the federal government, to give a loan of a billion dollars to a billionaire. Most and the majority would say no. It’s actually cuckoo land, right? So that’s, I think, a pretty sound proposition that you don’t give a billion dollar loan to a billionaire.

JAYES: Well, there you go. Let’s bring it back to New South Wales where Craig does represent his electorate. Craig Kelly, out of your electorate a little bit though, the Tomago aluminium smelter. We heard the guy who runs the Tomago smelter; there was a problem with dispatchable power late last week and he has essentially reported that, and he’s right on this, that the cost of electricity spiked. The spot price was up to $14,000 per kilowatt, or megawatt hour, at one stage. And just for our viewers at home, usually the average is about, what? $100 per megawatt hour in New South Wales? Because of the lack of dispatchable power. You can correct me on that. What does this all come down to?

KELLY: First Laura, the average wholesale price of electricity back in 2015 in New South Wales was around $30. It’s now around $90. So it’s tripled. But look, I’m going to recommend Matt Howe, CEO of Tomago aluminium, for Australian of the Year. Because he is actually the first CEO to stand up and start telling the truth. That we cannot run this economy on a combination of wind, solar and batteries. As he said, this is… this ideology that we’ve had, the renewable energy target…

JAYES: But we have [inaudible] in New South Wales. That failed?

KELLY: Well, it didn’t actually fail. You had them shutting down. What failed was the wind turbines. When the wind doesn’t blow, you get zero… you get zero of a percentage, Peter. So it doesn’t matter how many wind turbines that you build. If the wind doesn’t blow, you get zero output. Now he has belled the cat. He’s said there’s nowhere in the world that runs an aluminium plant on batteries, solar and wind. And if we go down that track, there is one thousand eight hundred jobs that rely directly on Tomago. They are all at threat because of Labor Party’s policies.

KHALIL: Why don’t you…

JAYES: Peter Khalil, a quick retort from you, we’re running out of time please.

KHALIL: Why don’t you tell the truth. Park the ideology at the door, Craig. You and I visited Tomago together, I recall.

KELLY: Correct

KHALIL: As part of the Environment and Energy committee. And you know just as well that the issues around the spiking of prices have much to do with the way the national electricity market is gamed. Where producers in certain states, hold the trading price and the spot price, until they get a price that is inflated and then they release it to the other states. You know there’s a problem with that. You didn’t mention any of that in your huff and puff answer. You need to be more honest with the Australian people.

KELLY: If you close down…

KHALIL: Well you know it’s not about renewables.

KELLY: If you close down wallarang. If you close down all those power stations down there. That is why we’re in the mess that we’re in now.

KHALIL: No it’s because the system is being gamed.

JAYES: Alright, Peter Khalil, Craig Kelly. I didn’t think you were going to fire up today, you certainly proved me wrong there. A quick break.