SUBJECT: Government’s failed drought policy.
TOM TILLEY: Joel Fitzgibbon is the Labor MP for the Hunter in NSW and is Labor’s Spokesperson for Agriculture. Joel thanks for joining us. Given you are the Shadow Agriculture Minister, are you happy that the Prime Minister is visiting drought affected farmers on his first Monday in the job?
JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: Great to be back Tom. He just said himself, the Prime Minister in your package that the drought has been going on for six years. They have been in Government for five years and we keep having these drought tours by Prime Ministers and senior Ministers. You might have thought by now that they’d have worked it out and would have had some idea what needs to be done. It’s just ridiculous that after five years in Government, and Scott Morrison has been Treasurer for most of that period, he now needs to go out and ask farmers what’s going on. It’s just pretty sad really.
TILLEY: They were there a few months ago as well and they announced a package recently. Are you saying this is just a politically cynical sort of grab for attention?
FITZGIBBON: Of course it is Tom. After five years of doing nothing they have announced three drought policies in the last two months, the last two of those were announced within a fortnight of one another. And now the new Prime Minister who was the Treasurer who surely was involved in the discussion of the last three packages has to go to Queensland in front of the cameras to ask a farmer what is going on and what needs to be done. It’s really crazy stuff and I think most people including most farmers will see right through it.
TILLEY: What do you make of the decision to give Barnaby Joyce a special envoy for the drought?
FITZGIBBON: How many people are on the drought committee now Tom? The Prime Minister is making it a priority he says so he is there. We have the Deputy Prime Minister there spruiking policies and we have of course the Agriculture Minister and we have the Regional Development Minister and now we have Barnaby Joyce. Just what we needed I suspect. The bloke who failed on drought policy as Agriculture Minister for four years now is the key adviser to the new Prime Minister on drought policy. The bloke who doesn’t believe in climate change and if you don’t believe in climate change then you can’t have a decent drought policy. The bloke who thought he could just fix everything by building a dam here, there and everywhere. The guy has no idea sadly.
TILLEY: It’s interesting you bring in climate policy because the Turnbull Government was thrown into its final chapter of disarray over energy and climate policy. Clearly it sounds like for a Government to be credible on drought policy they need a very clear plan on climate and carbon reduction.
FITZGIBBON: Of course they do. They need to acknowledge the climate is changing, they need to further acknowledge that we are all, as human beings making a contribution and they have to embrace a mitigation policy and adaptation policy and if they are not prepared to do that then they don’t get past the first square and of course the Prime Minister doubled down today when asked about this link, so he follows a long procession of senior Liberal and National Party Ministers now still in denial. Well while in denial they can’t possibly come up with a solution for the problem.
TILLEY: You’re listening to Joel Fitzgibbon who is Labor’s spokesperson for Agriculture. Emma on the text line, you say - “I have always been a staunch Liberal supporter however SCOMO doesn’t support climate change or the Australian youth which are the two biggest issues for me and it pains me to say it but I will be voting for Labor at the next election.” Joel Fitzgibbon we saw the Government got smashed in the polls over the weekend thanks to last week’s leadership nightmare. Is there any way Labor can lose the election now?
FITZGIBBON: We take nothing for granted Tom. We will just keep plugging along producing bold and appropriate policy. We are not taking anything for granted.
TILLEY: So you can still lose it from here?
FITZGIBBON: Every election can be both won and lost and a week is an eternity in politics these days as we saw throughout the course of the last week. We will keep laying out good policy, talking about health and education and the environment. Things that are important to people. And yes, if you are going to have a dollar or two on political party at the moment surely you would have it on the Labor Party?
TILLEY: Alright Joel, thanks for joining us.
FITZGIBBON: Always a pleasure.