“AGL is a business acting against the national interest. Of course AGL want to shut down Liddell because it’s a source of cheap power and they want all of us to pay more so their shareholders can get higher profits.”
Rossleigh: Tony Abbott wasn’t available, but I’ve managed to track down a spokesperson who’s prepared to attempt to justify anything the Liberals have recently done, provided I give him anonymity, so he can pretend it wasn’t him. Good afternoon, Tony Abbott?
Spokesperson: No, I’m someone completely different.
Rossleigh: No, I meant would you like to comment on Tony Abbott?
Spokesperson: Oh… No, we have a firm policy in the Liberal Party about not commenting on Tony Abbott unless we have to.
Rossleigh: Well, how about his tweet on the AGL’s decision not to sell Liddell.
Spokesperson: Yes, well, I can certainly comment on that because Tony’s absolutely right on this one.
Rossleigh: So you don’t think that AGL are acting in the national interest either?
Spokesperson: How could they be? Shutting down a source of cheap power just so they can make more money for their shareholders at the expense of everyday Australians!
Rossleigh: But isn’t making profits good? I mean, we’ve been told how the company tax cuts will benefit everyone by increases in wages, higher dividends, more in our superannuation accounts…
Spokesperson: Yes, but that’s coming through tax cuts, that’s not coming from all the mums and dads out there struggling to afford their second negatively geared property.
Rossleigh: But surely we all have to pay somehow if there are tax cuts.
Spokesperson: No, no, no, they’re tax CUTS. Nobody has to pay them.
Rossleigh: But weren’t you asking where Bill Shorten was going to get the money from when he suggested cutting taxes for people on lower incomes?
Spokesperson: That’s different.
Spokesperson: Well, Bill Shorten proposed it. And well, Unbelieva-Bill. You know? Unbelieva-Bill.
Rossleigh: I don’t see how that answers my question.
Spokesperson: Look, we’ll pay for company tax cuts because when we cut company taxes they invest more and then we get more in revenue from the profits.
Rossleigh: But isn’t that true of Shorten’s cuts too? And won’t much of the company tax cuts go to overseas investors?
Spokesperson: Look it’s clear that you’re just pushing Labor’s case here and if you’re not going to accept our sound, economic modelling then there’s really no point.
Rossleigh: So you’ve done economic modelling?
Spokesperson: Of course.
Rossleigh: And what did it tell you?
Spokesperson: That if you assume that everything goes according to plan then our plan will work.
Rossleigh: There’s something else I don’t understand about Mr Abbott’s assertion. If Liddell is providing cheap power and we get rid of it, won’t that just push the cost of electricity up for AGL as well?
Spokesperson: Of course!
Rossleigh: Well, how does that lead to greater profits? I mean, won’t they have to pay more if they’re not accessing so-called cheap power?
Spokesperson: Um… No, it’ll just make it more expensive for everyone else.
Rossleigh: Sorry, I need to understand. If Liddell is cheap and there’s no Liddell, doesn’t that mean that it’ll cost more for AGL to generate power.
Spokesperson: Of course not. They’ll start using renewables like solar and wind.
Rossleigh: Hasn’t your party been arguing that they’re more expensive?
Spokesperson: Yes, but only sometimes. Look, we acknowledge that we need a mix of power sources, so it’s really important to keep Liddell open.
Rossleigh: Yes, but why is it really important to keep open an ageing power station which keeps breaking down?
Spokesperson: Because we can’t rely on the renewable sector.
Rossleigh: What about battery storage?
Spokesperson: How will that help?
Rossleigh: When the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine, can’t batteries provide reliability?
Spokesperson: You’re rambling. Look, it’s really quite simple. Coal has been a reliable source of donations for decades. This renewable sector is just as likely to donate to Labor or The Greens, so how can we rely on that?
Rossleigh: Ah, I see. Moving on to other matters, would you like to comment on your decision to give half a billion dollars of public money to save the Great Barrier Reef without any sort of formal process.
Spokesperson: Well, it’s all part of our attempts to eliminate red tape. Under Labor, this company would have had to jump through all sorts of hoops and put in all sorts of proposals explaining how they intended to spend the money, but with us, they can just get started straight away.
Rossleigh: Started how?
Spokesperson: However they like. They’re the ones with the expertise.
Rossleigh: And the money…
Rossleigh: What exactly was this company’s expertise?
Spokesperson: Well, that’s exactly the sort of question that bogs people down in bureaucracy. For us, it was simple. The Reef needs saving. These people said give us the money and we’ll do it. We give them the money. Problem solved.
Rossleigh: You’re out of time.
Spokesperson: We’ve still got till August to improve the polls.
Rossleigh: For the interview.
Spokesperson: Oh. It’s been a pleasure.