Interview with Danica De Giorgio, Sky News Australia, First Edition

DANICA DE GIORGIO: Well, joining me now live to discuss this is the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. Deputy Prime Minister, good morning, thank you for joining us. Firstly, how much of this whole saga was the Federal Government simply trying to make a political statement about the unvaccinated entering the country than anything else?

BARNABY JOYCE: No, I don’t think that’s correct. I think it was quite clear what Minister Hunt had said, that you have to be double vaxxed and the fact that you’ve had Omicron is not the predominant issue, is that you have to be double vaxxed is the issue. Now, I’m not a lawyer. I’m happy to talk to you about how I want to support this industry, the coal industry in Central Queensland and the Labor Party won’t. What I can say is that I got it wrong last time. I thought that was pretty black and white. I’m going to use Djokovic’s defence, and he says at times that he gets allergies from court side flowers and he can’t play as well. I’m getting the same allergies as well and I think I’m going to talk a little bit less on this issue. I’ll leave it up to the Minister and I’ll leave it up to the courts. From what I’ve read this morning, and I’m about as briefed as you guys are, it was a procedural issue on the process of how they went about it rather than the standard facts of whether Mr Djokovic was double vaxxed or not. For me, I’m going to stick to my knitting and I’m going to tell you that they’re going to tax 18 businesses in Flynn, the Labor Party, if they win government – 18 businesses, one in Sydney, 18 in Flynn. That is a game I do know about. I think there’s about 24 in Capricornia who they’re going to tax. I’m going to support the coal industry and leave Mr Djokovic with his solicitors.

DANICA DE GIORGIO: All right. But obviously this is a very important story today and not just making headlines nationally, as you can imagine, Barnaby Joyce, it’s making headlines internationally. So I have to ask you then that if it was a procedural error, should the Government admit that there has been a stuff up?

BARNABY JOYCE: Once more, I’ll leave that to the appropriate ministers. I respect the court, the court’s make a decision, and I hear exactly what that decision is and I respect that as we all should. I also completely understand the Minister also has discretionary powers and those who are a lot more involved in this issue will be now going through the entrails of this chicken and trying to work out what is the best outcome for myself. I’m going to keep telling you that if we didn’t have coal exports, your standard of living would be decidedly lesser. We’d be a poorer nation because we’ve got nothing to replace one of our nation’s biggest exports. That’s how it works. Every time we talk about Djokovic, I’m just going to pivot back to something I want to talk about.

DANICA DE GIORGIO: I appreciate that, but it is an important topic, though. But would you like to see Novak Djokovic be deported?

BARNABY JOYCE: Once more, that’s not in my remit. I think Mr Djokovic is an incredible tennis player and I respect completely the legal process of this nation. I also respect completely the laws our nation has in place as to how you come in here and the sort of terms that you come into this nation on, which is that you’ve got to be double vaxxed, then I find myself slipping back into talking about legal stuff. I go, hang on, Barney, you’re supposed to be talking about how Central Queensland would be a lot better under a Coalition Government because we’ll stand behind the coal workers’ jobs and the Labor Party will just tax you. Eighteen businesses here, they’re going to tax. One in Sydney, 18 here. That’s how the Labor Party thinks of it.

DANICA DE GIORGIO: Deputy Prime Minister, I appreciate that. But as you can imagine, this is a big story today. And you are the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, so we have to ask you about it. I’m sure you can appreciate. So, anyway, let’s move on now, though, I want to ask you about supply shortages currently affecting multiple supermarkets across the country. How long do you expect that this will continue?

BARNABY JOYCE: This is something we’ve all got a part of. We’ve got to stop hoarding stuff like hoarding toilet paper, hoarding RAT tests, hoarding certain goods off the shelf. Take what you need, but not more than required and that’s going to help us a lot. The Prime Minister’s also leading there, he’s had the National Cabinet. The state laws are what affect whether you can go to work, close contact laws. From a national level, the Prime Minister is trying to sort of change that, so modify it a bit so that people in these crucial industries – and crucial could be stacking the shelves, driving the trucks to your shop – that they can get back to work as quickly as possible because the food is there. We’re not going to run out of food, but what we will run out of is common sense. If people go in and just start swiping everything off the shelves because they think we’re going to Armageddon we’re not. Omicron is out there. It’s a very mild form of the COVID variant. It is everywhere. As I said, when I got it myself, I said this disease will be everywhere. Everybody’s going to get it. And guess what? I got that one right – it is. The place is filthy with it, but lucky for us it’s pretty mild form, so we just got to cool our heels a bit, cool our rockets, act rationally, take what you need, but not more than required, and everything will go along swimmingly.

DANICA DE GIORGIO: There’s also been a number of issues with dairy and meat producers out on their farms. They have time sensitive raw materials. How can the Government support these producers?

BARNABY JOYCE: We’ve just got to get back to a more logical process of contact rules for the person who goes and picks up the milk from the farm, or picks up the chilled beef, or takes the cattle into the saleyards. We don’t need them isolating for 14 days if they haven’t got Omicron. We’ve just got to get a logical process. We’ve got to understand across our nation that we’re going to have to live with this. Everyone thinks once Omicron is gone, then COVID is gone and it will no longer be around and that will be it. End of the story, close the book. No, you’ll just get another variant, another variant and another variant. It’s going to go on, it’s with us now and we’re just going to learn to live with it. We do that by just having a logical process to how we act.

DANICA DE GIORGIO: I think the concern, though, right now, Deputy Prime Minister, is that there are a lot of food shortages out there. We do have to learn to live with it. But we also have to deal with an ongoing crisis.

BARNABY JOYCE: On the premise of that, without trying to be too smart, I disagree with you, Danica. We don’t have food shortages. Australia is not running out of food. We supply food to the world. We are not running out of food. The issue is about the logistics of getting it into the shop, right? We’re dealing with that, but we’re not running out of cattle, I can assure you, take you home myself. We’re not running out of cattle. We’re not running our sheep. We’re not running out of veggies or milk. Australia is blessed. We have lots of food, so dispense from your mind that something is going to happen where Australia will run out of food. We were going to run out of a lot of other things, maybe, if we got things wrong. If we stopped exporting coal then we’d probably run out of money, but the Labor Party won’t talk about that. But we’re not going to run out of food.

DANICA DE GIORGIO: All right. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, we got through our interview. Thank you for joining me this morning.

BARNABY JOYCE: Always a pleasure, Danica. Anytime.