20 April 2021


SUBJECTS: Climate change; exports; Scott Morrison’s failed vaccine rollout; women’s superannuation.

PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: Do you view the Prime Minister's comments, Barnaby Joyce, to the BCA as a step toward zero net emissions by 2050?

BARNABY JOYCE, NATIONALS MP: Well, I'll leave it up to the Prime Minister to decide what the Prime Minister's comments mean. What I do know is Australia’s only has one job. It's a biggest job, and that's to make ourselves as powerful as possible as quickly as possible. With the advent of China's rise as a totalitarian regime that runs it, and the possible sliding of United States in comparable power. So anything that stands in the way of us doing that, anything that takes precedence over us doing that, puts at risk the capacity of our children to live with the liberties and freedoms that we have enjoyed. And for my part, I think that basically that is the main thing that's on the table.

KARVELAS: Hang on, I have to interrupt. Clearly the Prime Minister, he's not dissuading us of the view that the Government is moving towards net zero emissions by 2050. Are you willing to accept that promise if Australia goes into those international meetings and makes commitments around that?

JOYCE: No, I'm not 

KARVEKAS: Why not? That’s where the world’s going. Don’t you leave us behind if you don’t commit, Barnaby Joyce? Don’t you actually put the country behind?

JOYCE: If you let me finish PK. Obviously if that puts at risk our capacity to deal with the biggest issue in our region, which is a superpower that is now projecting power. Which is constructing aircraft carriers. Which has taken over the South China Sea. Which has basically incarcerated over a million people of a certain ethnic group because there are all that of that group, and build access roads into Northern India, that is developing 5th generation fighting capacity. If we want our issues to be, oh we’ll be carbon neutral by 2050 and think that's going to stand as some sort of proxy, that China will say well don't worry too much about that because they're actually carbon neutral therefore they’re jolly good people and let’s just leave them alone. We can do anything providing it doesn't compromise that capacity to fulfill what is our major goal. And if we really want to move towards 2050, then why don't we look at nuclear and things such as that?

KARVELAS: Well there are some issues around the just the amount of time that would take.

JOYCE: What are they?

KARVELAS: And it’s not just actually China that is pushing us …

JOYCE: What are the issues around nuclear that stops us from using it?

KARVELAS: You’re doing that thing where you try and interview me, but you know I’m going to actually ask Stephen Jones a question.

JOYCE: Well we are on television, so … 

KARVELAS: Stephen Jones, Warwick McKibbin was actually just with me, and I put Chris Bowen’s comments to him, accusing the Prime Minister of engaging in identity politics. Mr. McKibbin said the bipartisan nature of this problem has to be addressed, that actually instead of finding the difficulties or the those sort of disagreement, you both need to come together. Do you take on his critique?

STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Oh, look, there's a lot in that. I think we advance as a nation if we are able to put the politics of climate change and the politics of carbon in the last century and just get on with the business of growing jobs, growing our economy, decarbonising our economy and telling the truth. And the truth is if we go down the path that Barnaby wants to suggest then there are less jobs, less economic power, less economic opportunity. But if we acknowledge that the world is changing and Australia's role within the world is going to change, that we need to transform our economy gradually so that we don't have to come to a sudden halt in 20 years’ time, you start the change now, there's more jobs, more opportunities, more economical than that. In fact, in Canberra today Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen had a coalition of 60 business people, engineers, scientists, community advocates, unionists together. And they had more in common than they had difference and they all understood one point, and that is if we don't do this we are weaker as a nation and have less jobs and a smaller economy. We've got to do it. We've got no choice. 

JOYCE: That’s not right.

KARVELAS: Well I know you disagree. But just on that point …

JOYCE: Well I do disagree because our largest export …

KARVELAS: Wait a minute, I’m speaking here. One of the points you made was this is all the pressure coming from China. Not at all. Our closest ally, the United States, has had a change in administration which you know. And clearly they too want to push towards this international approach. It's not just a China issue is it?

JOYCE: First of all, our largest export in this nation whether you like it or not are fossil fuels. 

JONES: Education is the second biggest one. Lot of jobs in education. Lot of jobs in agriculture in your electorate. 

JOYCE: Is our biggest export fossil fuels or not Stephen?

JONES: There is a lot of jobs in resources, there’s no … 

JOYCE: Stephen, Stephen, answer the question mate. Is our biggest export of this nation fossil fuels or not?

KARVELAS: Let me just intervene here, if you could just finish your point Barnaby Joyce rather than this ...

JOYCE: Well he knows the answer is yes. The biggest export of this nation is fossil fuels.

JONES: Give us your source mate.

JOYCE: We have nothing to take its place. Stephen’s a smart bloke. If he knows of something tell us what it is. It has got to employ the 7,000 miners in the Upper Hunter straight away. So if you want to get into that and tell me what it is, I mean it’s naïve. He might want these great wonderous ideas, benevolent force, but it just doesn't stack up to the economy of our nation. Now PK going back to your question about the United States. Yeah, they're our biggest ally.

KARVELAS: And they are pushing for this position too. This is not a China issue.

JOYCE: Our problem might be their problem. If you’re saying America’s only job is to look after Australia even if it is sliding in influence, certainly sliding comparatively in influence, that’s happening now without a shadow of a doubt. But if you’re saying lets get the United States to say well don’t worry Australia no matter what happens in the future you’ll be A-OK, even if our capacity, and we’ll be tested with Taiwan, the Taiwan issue will come up and then you will see exactly how strong that resolve is.

KARVELAS: All right I want to change the topic if I can.

JONES: Can I address some of the issues?

KARVELAS: I'll let you have the right of reply but I do want to move on to another issue, go ahead.

JONES: Iron ore, the biggest export by value, by volume. Education one of our biggest exports by volume. 

JOYCE: No, it’s fossil fuels mate. 

JONES: Mate I listened to you without interruption.

JOYCE: (indistinct) 

JONES: Grab your beer mate, grab your beer. I’d like to finish this.

JOYCE: What the hell are you talking about you idiot? I’m in the car, you clown.

JONES: I don’t want to park us in the past. We need to be focusing on the future. I want us to focus on the future and if we are going to go around telling people … 

JOYCE: (Indistinct). Fossil fuels are our biggest export. Iron ore is your second biggest. 

KARVELAS: If we could just let Stephen Jones finish, that would be great, I reckon that would be good. Go ahead Stephen Jones.

JONES: I reckon we owe it to our electorates and our constituencies to speak honestly with them. Yes, we have coal industry here and now and it will still be here with us …

JOYCE: (indistinct)

JONES: Mate will you just shut up and stop talking over the top of me?

JOYCE: Don’t lose your temper. (Indistinct)

JONES: I come from a coal mining electorate. Mate, I grew up on the side of a coal mine, I don’t need a lecture from Barnaby Joyce on the interests of coal communities. I live in one mate.

JOYCE: Oh really? (indistinct) Fossil fuels (indistinct). Fossil fuels is the biggest. Fossil fuels is the biggest. 

JONES: The fact is that yeah, they are going to be here for the next ten years, probably the next 20 years but it is not where our grandkids are going to be working so … 

JOYCE: (Indistinct)

KARVELAS: So because I have great respect for my viewers, I’m going to just ask you Barnaby Joyce, let's all calm our farm as we say. I want to talk about the consent videos that the Education Department is now removed, actually. The Federal Education Department has removed two videos about consent following a backlash. The campaign cost around $3.7m dollars. Barnaby Joyce, isn’t that a waste of money? The Education Department pays a group to put out these videos that have been widely discredited. Two have been now taken down. Doesn't that just show a waste?

JOYCE: Probably PK. I must say I watched them and I didn't quite get what on earth they were talking about. It was either so a cryptic, that it just went, you know, it was too obtuse. I didn't quite know what the point was. So, you know, you got to be straight and honest with these things go I didn't get it. So it's probably a waste of money, because obviously no one else got it either. 

KARVELAS: Yeah Stephen Jones, look I didn't know what they were getting at either, they seem sort of dated and all of the experts said they were about idea as well. What did what do you make of this decision from the Education Department to pull them down?

JONES: I think quite obviously if you're talking about the video instead of the message, it's a massive fail. Over three million dollars. I thought Scott Morrison was supposed to be a marketing genius. This is obviously not one out of the journey as playbox. Disaster. I think there is actually a very serious issue here that we need to be finding new and novel ways to be communicating with young people about. I probably would start by asking young people about what's the effective way to communicate that message instead of getting an old bugger like me or Barnaby out there telling them how to communicate it. Politicians are the last people you want designing ads. But unfortunately this is a massive file and an expensive one. 

KARVELAS: Yeah. Well, it’s taxpayer money, isn’t it?

JOYCE: It was mistake, not a disaster. It was a mistake, acknowledge it. And something as serious as the issue it was dealing with, it was dealt with too flippantly and too cryptically. It needed to be fixed and they are trying to fix it now.

KARVELAS: All right, turning to the big issue I think affecting so many Australians and that's the vaccine rollout. Barnaby Joyce, should we return to targets to really accelerate the pace of this rollout?

JOYCE: Well, I've said all the way along PK that we've actually achieved our greatest target that is the capacity for Australians that act in a pretty normal way today because we've got on top of the virus. Now ultimately the vaccine has got to be rolled out and we will be giving our best endeavours to it but it is nothing like what's happening in Brazil. And I think I was listening to on the ABC, the American Chief Medical Officer whose name starts with an F.


JOYCE: Yep. They had six and seven thousand cases yesterday. So their problems are entirely different to ours. And you know, I don't think we've had one community transition this week. You know, we've got people in quarantine which we have to deal with, but you know, we're so lucky. We're so lucky, well-managed and blessed and good management that we've got ourselves into a position where it's not as pressing as it would be if you're in Brazil or the United States or most places in Europe or certainly Papa New Guinea or Africa or India. I mean we've dealt with the issue and the vaccine’s rolling out as well. 

KARVELAS: Okay. What do you think Stephen Jones?

JONES: Barnaby's right, the Australian people, our State Governments, have done a pretty good job of halting community transmission. The fact, however, is that we've done it at a huge cost. We've closed ourselves off to the rest of the world. I know all Australians are anxious to open those borders up again. Just look at what happened when the New Zealand bubble was open. There was enthusiasm for getting on a plane and getting back in contact with our friends across the ditch. So the point of the slowdown in the vaccine rollout is that has an economic consequence. We don't want to be like this forever. So some mistakes have been made. We didn't have enough deals in the pipeline 12 months ago to ensure that we add redundancy in the vaccine availability to us. We've got to get this rollout done as soon as possible which means working cooperatively with States, not just through the GPS but through other delivery mechanisms as well. Because only once we have high rates of vaccination, can we get economic activity normalised again, travel normalised again and our current contacts with the rest of the world normalised again. There is a big economic toll for us not having the vaccine rollout done timely, and we’ll start to fall behind the rest of the world. That's the other point. The rest of the world once they get vaccinated, and we're not, we won't be welcome on their shores until we sort our own act out. 

KARVELAS: Just staying with you Stephen, there's a lot of speculation around super ahead of next month's budget. There are reports payments could be made on the Government-funded paid parental leave. How big a game changer would that be?

JONES: Well, I think it's important. There's about a 47 percent gap between women's retirement balances and men. Most of that is driven by the pay gap, but a part of that is driven by the fact that between 8 and 10 years are taken out of her a woman's working life for child-rearing responsibilities. That's closing a bit, but if we're paying super on that paid parental leave, then that'll go some way towards closing that gap. And I think that would be a good thing. It was Labor’s policy at the last election. The Government criticised it. They should adopt it. 

KARVELAS: Barnaby Joyce would you support that? If your Government moved in that direction? Is it something you support, paying superannuation on paid parental leave?

JOYCE: Well, it’s the people who pay the superannuation is the businesses you work for. And if you're looking at those businesses saying, well, we can't afford it, that means we employ less people …

KARVELAS: No, this is the Federal Government scheme right? Paying super on that.

JOYCE: Well if the Federal Government pays it, the Federal Government doesn’t have any money. Only you people have money, taxpayers have money. And so to say that the Federal Government is going to pay people’s super just means we have to tax you to pay it, simple as that.

KARVELAS: So you’re against it?

JOYCE: Well at this stage probably yes PK, because you work all of Monday and most of Tuesday to pay your taxes.

KARVELAS: That’s right and I also took maternity leave and was paid paid parental leave. So I paid taxes for many years as a woman, and was paid paid parental leave. 

JOYCE: You’re taking about another cost on top of that.

KARVELAS: Women pay taxes before they go on parental leave.

JOYCE: I know they do.  And women go to work on Monday and Tuesday till around about 11 o'clock to pay their taxes for the Government and you have to get to a point somewhere where we say the Government can't just keep on putting things on the tab because taxes are the only way these things are paid for. And look, I'm not saying it's not a good idea, it doesn't have merit, it is not a generous idea. I'm saying the reality that ultimately somebody has to pay for it. There is no magic about how Governments pay for things. They tax people. So they take money out of one pocket …

JONES: Can I put the cost in context? 

KARVELAS: Very, very quickly because I'm out of time, but you can.

JONES: Very quickly, we will have paid more Job Keeper to companies that made profits and handed our bonuses to their bosses than we will pay out in three years of providing superannuation on paid maternity leave to Australia's women. I think that's a better priority frankly.