27 August 2018
Transcript - #2018002, 2018

Interview with Kieran Gilbert, AM Agenda, Sky News

Subjects: Cabinet; and energy policy.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Joining me is the new Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and you were there as the senior member of government to see Peter Dutton sworn in again as Home Affairs Minister. It's been quite the week, but he's got a commitment with the Five Eyes intelligence ministers later today. Treasurer?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Yeh, I'm really pleased that Peter is remaining in the important Home Affairs position in Cabinet. He's performed extremely well in that important role and will continue to do so.

Scott Morrison, in announcing his new team, has outlined a new generation of Cabinet ministers. We have more women in the Cabinet than previously: Karen Andrews is taking on the Industry portfolio, Melissa Price is taking on Environment. We have Paul Fletcher coming up into social services and Angus Taylor into Energy.

At the same time, people like Greg Hunt who performed extremely well in Health as well as Mathias Cormann in Finance are retaining their positions. So, there's both new faces and the stability and continuity from the Turnbull Government.

KIERAN GILBERT:

You must be happy to be out of Energy. What's your advice to Angus Taylor?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, look, I'm really pleased for Angus. He's extremely talented, he's got a depth of experience in the private sector and he'll bring a fresh set of eyes to a fresh set of challenges.

His focus in on affordability and reliability, building on the successes to date. We've separated out Energy from Environment and I think that will assist him in achieving our goal of lower electricity prices which is a real priority for the Morrison Government.

KIERAN GILBERT:

He's already copping a bit of flak around the place for previous comments around wind energy. What do you say to that? Should people be giving him a fair crack given that he hasn't even been sworn in yet?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, I'm sure he'll deliver on ensuring we have lower electricity prices and a more reliable system.

Actually, we've just seen in recent days, Kieran, warnings from the Energy Market Operator about stability of Victoria's system because they've got themselves into a predicament where, following the closure of Hazelwood which represented a quarter of Victoria's supply, not only did prices go up, but we increased the likelihood of load-shedding which is a euphemism for blackouts.

So, he'll deal with that, but when it comes to the energy mix, it's an all of the above approach – that has not changed. We need to maintain coal in the system because it's the bedrock of our energy system, but we also need to make way for renewables and the important role they can play in the future too.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Treasurer, you spoke to the new generation mix, is that why Tony Abbott was left out of the front bench?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, as you know, Scott Morrison is speaking to Tony Abbot about a role, particularly around the Indigenous Affairs space where Tony is really passionate from the time that he has spent in that part of Australia and on those relevant issues.

So, let's see how those discussions go between the Prime Minister and the former Prime Minister, but I'm hoping Tony Abbott can play a role in the future Morrison Government in relation to indigenous affairs.

KIERAN GILBERT:

What do you say those, because obviously this is a mixture between some olive branches as you say to those like Peter Dutton and others who were on the other side of the vote, but some missed out, some were dumped, including Michael Sukkar, what do you so to those individuals, Connie Fierravanti-Wells, who have been dumped from the Ministry?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, as you know, Michael Sukkar is a fellow Victorian, a good friend of mine and he did really well in the Ministry position which he held in Treasury previously.

This is obviously a difficult day for Michael, but the point is he is part of a broader Coalition team, he's got one goal and it's the same goal as Scott Morrison and I have, which is for the Coalition to win the next election, for Michael to hold his seat, for all of us to hold our seats and for Bill Shorten to be kept out of the Lodge.

But, I'm sure Michael will rise back to the executive and to the Ministry in due course, he's got a huge role to play in public life and he'll be around for a long time to come and I welcome that contribution.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Finally, your grandparents arrived here as stateless refugees in 1950 and now that you're the Treasurer of the nation, sworn in with your yarmulke on, it must've been a proud moment for you.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, I think my story is like so many other Australians to be honest. We've all come from the four corners of the earth and Australia has provided some cases a safe haven, in some cases a new start.

But, what it has done, is it's allowed us all to practice our religion freely, enjoy the cultures and the history of the other countries from which our families have come and, indeed in many cases, different languages too. And that has been a multicultural, harmonious face to Australia which is part of the modern Australia.

So, long may that continue. Australia, as my good friend Ed Husic said, Kieran, it doesn't have to be made great again, it is great today – and long may that continue.

So, my parents and my grandparents, I'm sure, are very proud. But, it's not about me, it's about the Australian people. Last week was about us in the Liberal Party, from here on it's about the Australian people. They are our masters, we are their servants and we've got to govern for all of them.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Treasurer, thanks for your time, we'll talk to you soon.