20 October 2021

SUBJECTS: Coalition split on climate change; Government inaction on scam crisis.
ADRIAN FRANKLIN, HOST:  We are joined by Shadow Financial Services Minister and Labor MP Stephen Jones. Great to have your time as always, Stephen. Firstly, are you confident that Scott Morrison will take a net zero climate policy to COP-26, and does he need to?
STEPHEN JONES: Well, I'm pretty confident that they'll probably be land in a spot. We don't know what it's going to be yet. It's quite clear After Question Time here in Canberra today that the Prime Minister has outsourced decision making to Barnaby Joyce and Barnaby Joyce has outsourced the analysis of all of this to climate change denier and fossil fuel champion Matt Canavan. So it'll be a mess. We can be pretty confident of that. And as the Leader of the National Party in the Senate might quite clear today, they intend to blow the show up. So God knows which way this is going to land. The Prime Minister is going to Glasgow. We called for him to do that, that's a good thing. But we've got great doubts. Now, after the behaviour of the National Party about what happens once a position is landed on? Because if history is any guide they might land a position and then all the rebels in the National Party and the Liberal Party will spend the next six months undermining that position. And if they don't get their way, they'll roll their leader or even the Prime Minister. So I think this has got a long way to go yet. And as you said in your intro, while all of this is going on Australia has won a competition that no country wants to win and that is the country in the world that is doing least to bring down our emissions and planning to do more emissions in the atmosphere. That's not a competition we want to win.
FRANKLIN: So what's your feel in terms of your speaking to people inside the parliament at the moment? I feel question time today, you guys have just returned this week I know, what are other people saying to you at the moment in terms of what's going on between the Nationals and the Prime Minister?
JONES: There's a war going on inside the National Party and for the Prime Minister that means there's a war going inside the Coalition. They are going to continue to undermine and chip away at us reaching a sensible position on this. So very unstable, very uncertain is the direct answer your question. The consequence of that? It means that Australia is going to be left behind and the opportunities, the economic opportunities, to be an economic powerhouse in the energy that is going to drive industrial growth this century is going to be left behind. And I think that is something that all Australians should be very alarmed about. Can you imagine if, at the beginning of the 18th century, there was a political party that was opposed to utilising coal and oil and gas in industrial development because they thought it was better off us relying on burning wood for charcoal? It's exactly the same thing that's going on. Back then, engineers and scientists knew that coal and oil and gas were more efficient and in more plentiful supplies of that and they did less harm to urban environments than burning wood or charcoal. It's exactly the same thing that is going on now. Engineers, scientists, business people all know that there's a plentiful supply of renewable energy. That we can now produce it more efficiently and cheaply. It can power industry if we get on board. We can get on board the hydrogen chain, we can get on board with offshore solar and wind, or we can stick with the past. If we stick with the past, we lose the opportunity to be in the front row of the energy that is going to drive industrial development of this century. And that is a massive wasted opportunity.
FRANKLIN: Changing tack completely for a moment if we can. This is news to me. But Australia is in the top five countries for getting scammed online apparently. Have you been scammed before Stephen? I hope not.
JONES: I've had a many, many attempts, like everybody listening to your program. If you haven't had, you know, a dozen sms's and emails and spoof phone numbers calling, you know offering all sorts of outrageous deals, or threatening you with court action for not paying a bill or a debt, you probably haven't got a mobile phone or an email account. Everyone's experienced it. Again, this is another league table that we don't want to be at the top of. Australia is now a target for international scammers and the Government is treating it, to the extent that it is acting, as a national security issue. Now, I agree it is a national security issue, but they've got a huge blind spot when it comes to protecting the needs and interests of consumers and small businesses. Enormous damage is going on there, $33bn worth of economic loss in the last 12 months alone, and the Government's not simply not doing enough to address the problem.
FRANKLIN: So just finally, what more can be done in that space? I mean heading into Christmas, of course you would imagine if we're top five in the world that the threat is fairly high. What would you like to see?
JONES: Well, everyone always says that the magic answer to all of this is more education and absolutely, that's a part of it. Increasing consumer awareness in this piece is absolutely critical. But we need to do more. We need to be ensuring that we are significantly improving the way tech companies, which are the vectors of scam, are dealing with the finance companies which are at the wallet at the end of the process. The banks and the financiers, we need to be doing much more in terms of communication between those two groups and ensuring that they lift their game in protecting their customers as well. And then there's a big role for the Government and its regulators as well. Industry is crying out for it, consumers are crying out for it, businesses crying out for it. But the Government seems to be absolutely deaf to these concerns.