SUBJECTS: New mines in Australia; Abortion Laws
DAVID KOCH: The two areas most likely to be considered are Liverpool Plains in New South Wales and alongside Adani’s Carmichael project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. For their take we’re joined by Nationals MP, Barnaby Joyce, and Shadow Minister for Resources, Joel Fitzgibbon. Gentlemen thanks for your time. Barnaby the people of the Liverpool Plains, which takes in your electorate, fought hard against the approval of Chinese Shenhua mine, which was given the go ahead in 2015. Will they be happy with the news of another potential mine being built there?
BARNABY JOYCE: Well, I don’t support a mine in the Liverpool Plains. I do support coal mining, but not anywhere. There is coal underneath Sydney; I don’t think anyone is suggesting we put a coal mine there, and the country of the Liverpool Plains is the best country in Australia, and the Galilee Basin – entirely different story. There is – obviously we have to support coal mining, it’s our biggest export. We must support the development – further development – with India, because we have to have something to balance China if that relationship becomes fructions. We’ve got to have another market so that we can earn the export dollar, so that we can earn the revenue to support your hospitals, support your schools, support your infrastructure in this nation. But it’s not any mine, anywhere at any cost. Remembering most those approvals – the vast majority – are state approvals, but obviously for our national economy, for the revenue we earn, for the times that we’re in, and for the income we need, coal is going to be a major part of what this nation does.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE: And the Liverpool Plains, such beautiful soil it’d be a shame to dig it up for a coal mine. However, you know, coal – we’re sticking with coal for while longer because we haven’t got any alternatives yet. Joel, you often see such a divide on this issue – city and regional residents totally opposed on this. We saw that with Adani with Queensland and with the Federal election recently. As the Shadow Resources Minister, will Labor support the building of new coal mines in Australia, yes or no?
JOEL FITZGIBBON: Absolutely. Labor’s policy forever has been to mine and export our relatively clean and efficient coal, and we will continue to have such a policy. Look, our wealth has been largely built off the back of the resources sector, and if we want to maintain our standard of living we need to continue to support our resources sector, including our mining sector. And greater diversity in our markets can only be a good thing because we don’t want to become too dependent on any particular market, including China, because our relationship under this Government has deteriorated over the last few years so diversity will be very important.
ARMYTAGE: All right let’s move onto another issue making headlines today – there’s passionate debate from both sides; there’s a Bill to decriminalise abortion in New South Wales. The Attorney-General is pushing for an amendment to make it harder for women to access late-term abortions – that is after 22 weeks. Barnaby, you’ve been very outspoken on this, you say two separate doctors can’t be trusted to decide on the health of the mother and the unborn child.
JOYCE: What I’m saying quite clearly is we’re dealing with two people. Once a baby is viable – able to be born – this legislation as it’s currently proposed allows a baby the day before it’s born to be aborted, terminated and I don’t think anybody believes that is reasonable. I haven’t met anybody that believes that’s reasonable. They say it’s rare. Well, put it in the legislation and make it more than rare, make it not possible. I don’t believe that two doctors – as good as they are – are endowed with some omnipotent power. We see now that we have ethics committees and other issues that deal with late-term abortions. I was listening to a doctor the other day from the south-west of Sydney talking about the process that they go through. We have to recognise that if a healthy baby can be born we must respect their rights, and if we don’t, I think we’ve taken the respect of other persons to another level. If we were to say that other people at other stages of life their could be stopped by the reason of the view of two doctors, I think people would say that is totally unreasonable. We see – we know so much more now. We have such an advance in medicine that we’ve got to take into account that when you see a baby in its human form in an ultra-sound, you recognise it as a person and we must allocate it some rights – rights and protections – surely that is self-evident.
KOCH: Joel, what’s your view?
FITZGIBBON: Well, Barnaby’s trying to make this debate about something much more than it is. The New South Wales debate is about the decriminalisation of termination in New South Wales. I absolutely support the Bill. I absolutely support choice for women. It’s a matter between a woman and her doctor. And I ask Barnaby – who brought his own personal circumstances into this debate – how he would’ve felt if on his partner’s first pregnancy pressure came to bear and she took a unilateral decision to terminate that pregnancy, how would he feel if she’d been prosecuted under the Criminal Code. That’s a circumstance we don’t want happening in New South Wales, or indeed, anywhere else in Australia.
ARMYTAGE: Barnaby, what do you think?
JOYCE: Well, I’d say that that actual event – being prosecuted – hasn’t happened. This code has been working quite well. What I’d also say is that I must talk about the issue. The issue is the protection of an individual’s right. My views are not as important as a self-evident prospect that a person exists before they are born. If a baby is born a week late, does that mean the day before they are born they had no rights? It’s ridiculous. And the purpose of the legislation – it’s not just to abide by the status quo otherwise, you know, you’d go back, Aboriginals wouldn’t have a vote – there’d be a whole range of things that wouldn’t have happened. The purpose of the legislation is to improve the position of what you currently have, and surely to take into account the self-evident facts. And when the argument comes forward of the extremities, people always go to the extremities to try and prove the generality, the extremities are a different issue. The generalities are the case that a person who is healthy, who just by matter of geography, is one step away from being born – they must be given rights, and it’s not to do with religion it’s to do with basically an assessment of the facts.
KOCH: All right gents, thank you for that. Appreciate your time.
FITZGIBBON: But Barnaby a woman…
KOCH: Sorry, we’re out of time.
ARMYTAGE: We have to leave it there. Thanks, Joel. Thanks, Barnaby.