SUBJECTS: Gladys Liu, Paris targets
CHRIS KENNY: Alright, that is Michael McCormack the Deputy Prime Minister after our interview with him in the Sky News bureau he went outside as you saw there in the corridor he had a nice catch up with Joel Fitzgibbon, Labors Agriculture and Resources spokesperson, the two of them realising, I think, that they both lost their tempers a little bit in Parliament yesterday, and so making sure that they got together today, shook hands, slapped each other on the back maintained their political differences, but showed that they could actually be personable about all that. Heres that grab from yesterday.
(AUDIO OF QUESTION TIME PLAYS)
Joel Fitzgibbon and Michael McCormack have made up in the corridor outside the Sky News bureau. Its all happening inside the bureau and outside the bureau in Parliament House Canberra today. Thanks for joining us, Joel Fitzgibbon. After that exchange yesterday it was a good idea just to shake hand, make sure that youre not always screaming at each other.
JOEL FITZGIBBON: Always a pleasure to join you, Chris, and I dont know whether Sky deliberately had us booked so close together so that could happen, but I appreciated the opportunity. Im sure Michael McCormack did, but we had a bit of a stoush in the Parliament yesterday. We are both passionate about rural and regional Australia.
Obviously Im disappointed about the inadequacies of the Governments approach to drought, and I do get a bit upset when Ministers stand at the despatch box and spruik what they say they are doing. I dont know who they are kidding because farmers know they arent getting the support they need, but what I just said Michael in the corridor is this there are too few of us in the Parliament, across the political divide representing regional Australia. Thats pure arithmetic, based on capital city populations, and wherever we can, we need to fight together.
KENNY:Indeed, now I want to get to other issues in a moment, but first up Ive just been interviewing Michael McCormack largely about the Gladys Liu situation. Now, you speak with some authority in this area because you once lost your front bench spot because of links to Chinese-Australian donors, as I recall. As I put to Michael McCormack, Gladys Liu, sure she gave a clumsy interview when it came to policy issues and Chinese interests, but she was 100 per cent wrong on her links to these Chinese linked organisations, and she corrected that the following day in a statement, surely shes obliged to turn up in Parliament and explain herself to the Parliament.
FITZGIBBON:Chris Im sure youll just let me, by introduction, make a point I didnt resign as Defence Minister because of any Chinese connections. It was about a perception, perception of a breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct over another matter. Now, that was in the days when even a perception of a breach was enough to cause people to do the right thing by their party and move on something that hasnt happened in recent years, and the matter that was written about in respect to me and Chinese connections was something settled in my favour in terms of defamation action. So, I just want to make that clear, it had no substance to it whatsoever. And I was very satisfied
KENNY: Im glad you did.
FITZGIBBON: And I was very satisfied with the compensation I received as a result of that although never enough to compensate me fully for the pain I was put through, my family was put through, as a result of those false accusations
KENNY: Yes. Look, but my point was politically youre very personally aware of the volatility, the sensitivity, of this particular area. Now, Gladys Liu has got a clear problem here where said one thing one day, and entirely the opposite the next, and my point is that, really as a Member of Parliament, the Parliament is the place that she should go to explain herself.
FITZGIBBON: Well, she absolutely needs to, Chris. Putting out media releases is just simply not enough. People have a general understanding about privilege, and the like rules of the Parliament, but theres another important side of privilege, and that is to mislead the Parliament itself is a contempt of the Parliament, and if she wants us to take her, her explanations if you like, for whats been reported then she needs to give that explanation to the body to which she is elected, likewise to give the Australian community the assurance it is looking for, the Prime Minister has to make a statement to the Parliament if, you know, he needs to start defending her if thats his desire in the Parliament, not just outside the Parliament. So, theres a really important accountability issue, here, and if shes not prepared to do this people will start asking the simple question why not?
KENNY: Joel Fitzgibbon, were hearing now that Labor might abandon its 45 per cent emission reduction targets by 2030. I heard you outside in the corridor saying Labor should actually just settle on the Paris targets for now, in other words, in step with the Governments targets.
KENNY: This is something Ive been arguing all along, so I wont disagree with you now do you think thats where Labor can get to as a policy option?
FITZGIBBON: Well, Chris, Ive noted we agree on many things, but thats not quite what I said. The point I made is the Coalition Government signed up to the Paris Agreement. It signed up to committing itself to playing its role, and to keeping temperature below two per cent rising. So, what Ill say is that Scott Morrison should make good on that commitment something that he is not doing. I mean, every day he claims hes on target, but he always refers back to the Kyoto commitment, something he can claim was achieved. He avoids talking about Paris because the reality is that emissions are rising, year on year and have been for the last four years
KENNY: Sure you want to make sure he keeps that target, but do you think that should be the same target that Labor signs up to in the first instance? Or, another words, get rid of that 45 per cent by 2030 target?
FITZGIBBON:What Labor needs to do is maintain its commitment to Paris, and then over the next couple of years, given that we lost six you see Chris, this task just got a whole lot harder because weve lost this extension period of time under the Coalition Government where we havent made the gains. In fact, emissions are on the rise, so the task actually just got harder. So what we need to do is work out how we maintain our commitment to Paris without doing any harm to the economy. That is the outcome we are looking for, and the point I was making in the Parliament yesterday, which is why this was reported today, is that to get there we need to be smart and innovative. And I gave we obviously need, in part, a market based approach, but we also need to do smart and innovative things along, across the industrial, agriculture and energy sectors. And I gave a very good example of that in the parliament yesterday, carbon capture and storage. Now, we are making slow incremental gains in that space, but in the absence of very clear government guidance and support, were not progressing to the extent we should be. Weve got to make innovation like that part of the equation.
KENNY: Absolutely, Absolutely. When youre talking about targets, youre now in direct conflict with your colleague Tanya Plibersek who maintains that Labor should stick with what she calls its ambitious targets.
FITZGIBBON: No, not at all. I mean Labors one of Labors core values is to make a commitment to Australia playing a role as a wealthy nation into an international commitment to keeping temperatures low. And that wont change Chris, we maintain that commitment. But we absolutely maintain our support
KENNY: Sure, sure, its about the target you take to the Australian people at an election. Do you take 45 per cent to 2030? Or do you say, as you seem to be intimating, first up lets get to the Paris targets of 26 per cent by 2030 and talk about doing more after that.
FITZGIBBON: No, what is important is to take the next eighteen months or more working out how other policies to reduce carbon emissions in the economy can be progressed to sit alongside what might look more like a market-based mechanism. Weve got plenty of time; the commitment is there Chris. But the commitment is also there to the coal mining industry for example. Our coal mining industry, particularly the export industry, both in thermal and metallurgical coal, is an important one to the Australian economy and we will continue to export coal to our developing neighbours for many, many years to come. So, thats an important point to be made too. So, well maintain our commitment to Paris, and we will spend the next little while working out what is the most efficient and effective way of getting there and working out how we can reach those targets without doing any harm to our economy. In fact Chris, I believe if we are smart enough, and we think outside the square, we can get there while at the same time benefiting our economy, and again our carbon capture and storage is a good example.
KENNY: Joel Fitzgibbon, thank you for joining us.
FITZGIBBON: A great pleasure Chris.