NICK CHAMPION: Nick Xenophon, when he entered the Senate told us there wasn't going to be any horse trading on his behalf. He was going to be a different type of Senator and a different type of politician for South Australia.
We now find this morning that he is doing deals, horse trading in his own words, with the Abbott Turnbull Government on so called media reform. The impact of this on the South Australian media market is going to be closing newsrooms and to concentrate media into essentially one voice. It essentially will go from not just being a one paper town, but being a one media voice town.
This will be devastating for South Australia, for media diversity and for journalism in South Australia. Because what we will have is simply one voice broadcasting both in print, radio and on TV. Basically one voice coming from the media, with all of the impact on diversity, and public discourse and discussion that will entail.
So what we have is the Nick Xenophon Team doing deals, horse trading, with the Government to concentrate media and devastate the media market in places like South Australia. And we know that whatever he does on cadet journalists will have little impact because what we will find is newsrooms close and for places like South Australia and other regional centres, this will have a devastating impact on the public discussion, on our democracy and on the media industry.
JOURNALIST: You don't think these reforms will in fact help the regional papers?
CHAMPION: Well I don't think it will help having one single voice from the media in South Australia. I mean we will sort of have a Soviet or dictatorship system where there will simply be one media outlet, it will be something like Pravda, or something like that. And you will have to go cap in hand to whoever controls that media outlet.
We don't want to see that in South Australia. What we want to see is lively discussion. South Australia has a long history of democratic innovation and of a good public discourse. What we will find is that Senator Xenophon will kill that stone dead if he does a deal with the Government on media reform this week.
JOURNALIST: Are you still confident that Labor's [inaudible] 50 per cent energy renewable target?
CHAMPION: Well we hear this criticism of renewable from the Government, I mean what's Malcolm Turnbull proposing? Is he going to get out there with a crow bar and start smashing the solar panels off people’s roofs? Whenever the Government talks about renewables they seem to me to be I think railing at reality. Walk down any street in Australia and you will see solar panels on people’s roofs. When I started in public office there were 7,000 houses with solar panels. I think by the time we finished Government there were a million. And that's because people are voting with their feet.
We hear a lot of adoration and love on the part of the Coalition for old coal plants, but let's face it, HQ Holdens and EH Holdens and other vintage cars were getting around as new when these stations opened. Is anybody proposing we should get around in old cars? And so why should we try and resurrect power stations.
Malcolm Turnbull is a piss weak Prime Minister and he's trying to implement Tony Abbott's uncertainty tax. As long as that uncertainty tax exists, as long as new investment isn't coming in, new power plants, whether they be gas or renewable or involve storage, or pumped hydro, as long as that uncertainty tax is there, as long as Tony Abbott is throwing a spanner in the works and being given power by a weak Prime Minister and a divided party. As long as that's all occurring, people are going to pay higher power bills. And as long as there is uncertainty in the gas market, we heard Jason Clare talking about the gas trigger, as long as there's uncertainty in the gas market, people are going to be paying higher power bills.
So you can sort of believe this sort of ridiculous pantomime play acting of the Prime Minister telling everybody he's going to stand up against corporate interests and this failing electricity market, but the reality is he's the one who is causing it to fail. It's his party’s policies and his party’s politics that are causing it.
JOURNALIST: Labor will stick by that 50 per cent?
CHAMPION: Inevitably the march of renewables is going to happen. No politician can stop it. You walk down any street in Australia and people are voting with their feet. Even Cory Bernadi from the Australian Conservatives Party has got solar panels on his roof. Renewables will be part of the system. Solar, gas, wind, batteries, pumped hydro and coal will all be part of the system. But we've got to make that system work. It won’t work as long as there is uncertainty, and it's Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott who are implementing that uncertainty and it has a cost.