Interview with Barnaby Joyce, Sky News

LAURA JAYES: The Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, joins us now. Thanks so much for your time. First of all, what is happening in the Hunter this morning? Activists are causing all manner of havoc on the coalmines there?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, completely and utterly unreasonable, what these people are doing, in blocking coal trains – $1 million per train. That means it’s about $100,000 of royalties. What that means is they’re blocking payments to your hospitals, to your police, to your schools, the tax revenue. They’re blocking payments to your NDIS, to your PBS – the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – that subsidises your medicines. They’re blocking payments to your pensions. They don’t care. Many of them probably are on social security themselves. They’re quite happy to stop the money, but they’re quite happy to live off it. They don’t acknowledge that this is the money that tries to balance the books of the nation. Not only are they blocking the coal, they’re also blocking the wheat. We’ve got a harvest on, we’ve got a rain on, we’re trying to get product to the port – they’re blocking that. They’re blocking the commuters, who are just trying to go about their everyday business because they believe that their world view reigns supreme, and if you don’t agree with their world view, they have a right to impose themselves on your life, impose themselves on the finances of your state, impose themselves on the finances of your nation. Because, apparently, if they can’t do it legally, they’ll do it illegally, and then they’ll think, “We’re morally justified, because this is our world view.” Well, if everybody acted like that and said, “Well, every time I have a different view to what’s legal, I can just impose myself – I can shut down the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I can shut down dairy farms because I don’t like methane. I can shut down concrete plants and people doing up their houses because there are carbon emissions in that.” We’ve got to call these people out.

LAURA JAYES: Sure...

BARNABY JOYCE: And just because they’re the zeitgeist and have the philosophical following and are absolutists in the Greta view of the world, the Greta Thunberg view of the world – that doesn’t give them the right to put our industry, our finances, our wheat farmers, our grain farmers, our coal producers, our commuters at risk because they want to put themselves on scaffolding or sit on top of a train trying to shovel train out of an 80-tonne carriage.

LAURA JAYES: Well, perhaps you would have preferred what Simon Birmingham got this morning, which was just a bit of dung at his office in Adelaide. But still, you’re making the point about, you know, cancel culture, but isn’t it a bit of a stretch to say that coal is the backbone of the nation that pays for our hospitals? It’s one fraction of it.

BARNABY JOYCE: It’s the biggest export in New South Wales by far – over $1.5 billion – and the royalties are incredibly important. In our nation, our biggest export is iron ore, then coal, then gas, then daylight, daylight, daylight, more daylight, then other things, and then you’ve got agricultural products such as wheat, which they’re blocking as well.

LAURA JAYES: Yeah, but isn’t the biggest problem for farmers and agricultural products at the moment is they simply cannot get the workers onto their farms and crops are just rotting on the vine? I mean, are you fighting for international workers to get here sooner rather than later?

BARNABY JOYCE: That’s why we brought in the ag visa. Of course we are. Of course we understand that. There are jobs Australians don’t want to do. But what’s the point of getting the crop off if you’ve got some clown down in the Hunter Valley stopping it getting to port? They’re not paying for the wheat to arrive at Muswellbrook, they’re paying for it to arrive at the Port of Newcastle. These clowns are stopping them. These people, the Greta tribe have decided they’re going to shut down the biggest coal export terminal in the world. And people say, “I don’t like coal.” Well, I’ll tell you what – you like the money when you go to a hospital and there’s a doctor there – you like that.

LAURA JAYES: Sure. Just before I let you go – and we’ve only got about 30 seconds – you say that these people are imposing their views on everyone else, but can you really ignore the views of those city dwellers as well, about what they want to see on climate change?

BARNABY JOYCE: Obviously people in the city understand if you kick the biggest income earner out of your house, and coal is the biggest income earner for New South Wales in export dollars, then your currency’s not worth much. See, the only reason people can buy a Toyota in the middle of Sydney is because of terms of trade. So look around your life, look at all the things that are important, and ask yourself this question – “Who puts product on the boat and sends it in the other direction?” It’s called the terms of trade – it underpins your standard of living.

LAURA JAYES: Alright. Let’s have a longer conversation about this at a later date. Barnaby Joyce, we’ll have to leave it there.