Transcript - Doorstop - Canberra - Monday 28 February

 SUBJECTS: Coalition Agreement, National Party room meeting, Adani coal mine.

JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: Malcolm Turnbull was forced to declare to the Parliament yesterday that he has spent $87,000 of taxpayers’ money trying to keep the Coalition Agreement a secret. He gleefully quoted the figure as if it was frivolous. Well Prime Minister, $87,000 is more than the average Australian earns in any given year. It is a small amount of money for you. You can donate more than a million dollars to the Liberal Party election campaign, but it’s a lot of money for hardworking Australians.

But yesterday the Prime Minister attempted to intimidate me by threatening a cost order against me. In doing so he didn’t attempt to intimidate just me, he sought to intimidate any member of Parliament who seeks on behalf of the taxpayer to hold this Government to account. Well Prime Minister, I won’t be intimidated. You can send me to the bankruptcy court if you like. I have enormous community support and people who are prepared to support my campaign. It is time you just handed over the Coalition Agreement. If you do not do so, people will continue to ask, what have you got to hide? What dirty deals did you enter into in order to be the Prime Minister of this country?

On the question of the Nationals, they have now cancelled their party room meeting. Michael McCormack’s first act it seems as the leader of the National Party is to first call a party room meeting and now cancel a party room meeting. This is the dysfunctional nature of the National Party today. This is the party Malcolm Turnbull relies upon to remain the Prime Minister of this country. When the Nats do get around to holding a party room meeting and they discuss the policy issues they want to attach to any new  Coalition Agreement, I challenge all of them, including George Christensen to demand as part of that Coalition Agreement, a stay on penalty rates. Stand up for rural workers in this country and demand as part of that Coalition Agreement that Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t touch penalty rates in into the future.

JOURNALIST: Bill Shorten privately told businessman and environmentalist Geoff Cousins last month that Labor would revoke Adani’s mining license. Is there a discrepancy between Labor’s position in public and private when it comes to the mine?

FITZGIBBON: No Bill Shorten told him that. He spoke in a way that is completely consistent with Labor’s position on Adani. Labor’s position on Adani is that Adani must stand on its own two feet both economically and environmentally. We won’t have mines rising on the back of taxpayers’ subsidies. The mines of the Hunter Valley, which I support and which stand on their own two feet and are operational without taxpayers’ funding so too new mines should be able to stand on their own two feet and not rely on a taxpayers’ subsidies.

JOURNALIST: You yourself, would you like to see that particular project go ahead?

FITZGIBBON: I support the coal mining industry but any new project must be able to stand on its own two feet. I do not support taxpayers’ money subsiding new coal mines.

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