Television interview with Samantha Armytage on Sunrise

Transcript
31 Aug 2017
Sydney
Prime Minister
Citizenship; North Korea; Electricity Prices
E&OE

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning Sam.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Welcome. This is never ending, this citizenship chaos that is going on in the Parliament. Derryn Hinch is now calling for an independent audit of every Member of the Parliament. Is that necessary?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think what’s necessary is what is going to happen is the High Court will consider seven citizenship cases - which I suppose are test cases in effect - and they will do that in the second week of October. So I think we’ll have the law clarified then.

But just speaking for the Coalition Senators and Member, which is Barnaby Joyce of course, we are very confident that the court will confirm that they are qualified to sit in parliament.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

The rules are rules, though. Constitutional law experts are saying that it’s unlikely – it’s highly unlikely they won’t pass this?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the Solicitor General’s advice, which is the one we rely on, is you know - differs from that. We are very confident and in fact, I’d just say Sam that section has never been read literally. The court has always interpreted in a way to realise the intent of the drafters.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Yes, this will be the test case.

PRIME MINISTER:

So, there are seven of them, there seven of them!

(Laughter)

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Yes, goodness me!

PRIME MINISTER:

Derryn apparently wants to be number eight.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Yes.

PRIME MINISTER:

So I think the courts got plenty on the docket.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Well they sure have, they’ve got their hands full for now.

Alright, let’s talk about North Korea. We’ve got pictures in from overnight showing dictator Kim Jong-un laughing as he watched the launch of a ballistic missile right over the top of Japan. You have warned he will be signing a suicide note if he starts a war. Overnight, US President Donald Trump has tweeted saying ‘after 25 years of talking, that’s no longer the answer’. Is military action shaping up to be the only option here?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, it's not shaping up to be the only option, but it clearly is an option. What we want is for this matter, this issue to be resolved peacefully; we want North Korea to come to its senses. The best way for that to happen, and the most peaceful way for that to happen is for the UN Security Council sanctions – economic sanctions - to be enforced, and in particular by China, who has said they will.

Remember China has the overwhelming dominant economic relationship with North Korea. They have the greatest leverage and therefore the greatest responsibility.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

And if diplomacy fails, which it is at the moment and Trump picks up the phone and calls you and says will you join us, in military action, will we provide troops?

PRIME MINISTER:

I'm not going to speculate on that. I have been asked about the ANZUS Treaty, and clearly, if the United States were attacked, then under the ANZUS treaty we would come to aid of the United States.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

So we would go to war-

PRIME MINISTER:

If the United States were attacked that’s right. We could come to the US, the United States aid, just as if we were attacked under that treaty the United States would come to our aid.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

How much - I mean this is our region, we not necessarily meant to take the lead but we certainly have to be involved in our own region. How much danger are we in here?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the whole region is in danger from the instability and you know the risk of conflict that North Korea's reckless activities entail. I mean they are essentially, they’re stand over merchants. What they are seeking to do is to intimidate other countries to not impose sanctions, and that's why the sanctions must be imposed. The economic pressures have to be bracketed up on North Korea, so that they see that they will not be rewarded for their illegal and reckless conduct.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Okay let's head home now. We’ll talk about power prices, we’re calling you the ‘power ranger’ this morning. I don't know if you appreciated that.

PRIME MINISTER:

I'll take it.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

You negotiated with energy retail bosses yesterday.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yep.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

They are now saying - you have asked them to send letters to Australian households to outline better and cheaper deals for households.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Is that enough, is that doing enough here?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well it certainly is going to result in millions of households, millions of families, over two million are paying less for their electricity bills and the typical savings that people are achieving are in the – you know hundreds of dollars.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

But is shopping around the answer if they’re all much of a muchness and they’re all expensive?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well no Sam, promise you, people should go – you don’t have to wait for the letter to be alerted to it. The letter is really a reminder, because look all of us are busy, all of us are running around chasing after kids and grandkids and working, and so we don't pay enough attention to our electricity bills, and there are a lot of people that are paying more than they need to. So the-

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Yes, but this seems to be out of control now... Is there no way you can legislate against the power companies against their increases, their outrageous increases?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, what we are legislating is to ensure that when somebody comes to the end of a plan, that they should be – they will be notified...

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Is there more that you can do then that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well just hang on, let me just finish this, this is a very important message.

If you want to see what savings you can achieve for your energy bill, go to EnergyMadeEasy.gov.au, it’s an Australian Government website and I’ve seen many examples of people saving $300, $400, $500, $600, and more sometimes on their energy bill. So this is real dollars in the here and now.

Now longer term, we’re making big investments to make sure we put downward pressure on electricity prices. Snowy Hydro 2.0 is a very good example of that, but obviously a new power station, new generation takes time to build.

We're also taking action to bring down the price of gas, and that’s already starting to happen, but in terms of cutting your electricity bill right now, the actual we’re taking with the retailers is going to deliver, for millions of households, hundreds of dollars of savings a year.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

And were they receptive, did you feel like it was a productive meeting?

PRIME MINISTER:

It was a very productive meeting. I mean look, inertia and complexity are the friends of the retailers. I mean very often, if you ring up and say to your retailer, you know I am sick of paying this high bill, what will you do for me they’ll give you a discount so they make money of the people that way-

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

They rely on people to be too busy to challenge them.

PRIME MINISTER:

Correct. So that is why what I’ve done is say to the retailers now you’ve got to look after your customers. Your customers, you know you’ve got to look after them and one of the ways you look after them is by making sure that as far as possible, no one is paying a dollar more for their electricity than they need to. I’d like every Australian family to be on the best deal for them. That's the goal.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Okay, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, thank you for your time today.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you very much.

[ENDS]