Interview with Karl Stefanovic, Channel 9 Today Show

KARL STEFANOVIC: The Prime Minister touches down in New York in the coming hour, and running in the country in his absence is Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who joins us now from New South Wales. Barnaby, good morning to you. Thanks for your time this morning, appreciate it.

BARNABY JOYCE: Good morning, Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Look, there’s plenty of heat out there in the community, Barnaby, neo-Nazis on the streets of Melbourne. I mean, what is going on?

BARNABY JOYCE: The heats out there in the street. I’ll tell you what, it’s not on this ridge. It’s just dropped, it’s just dropping through the floor, the temperature here. But, look, I don’t know. It’s up to them to work out. It’s their Honey Smacks and they’ve got to work out what went on yesterday, whether it was anti-vaxxers or the split in the CFMEU. Nobody wants violence. It just intimidates people. It makes people scared. It makes people angry when they see it on television. Now, if the CFMEU says it’s got nothing to do with them, well, then it sounds like an issue for the police. I’m sure they’ll be going through the cameras and trying to work out what was going on. But, I don’t know, it just looked like a complete melee and, I don’t know, some of them seemed to know each other, so they have to work it out. It’s a Victorian problem. Go work it out, Victoria.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Yeah, it was awful.

BARNABY JOYCE: Yeah, it was pretty ordinary, actually.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Yeah, Victoria will remain, as you know, mostly locked down until 80 per cent vaccinations. The national agreement, as you know, is 70 per cent. Now Queensland says 90 per cent, although we may have heard this morning that that may not be completely right – it may be somewhere between 80 per cent and 90 per cent, but it’s not 80 per cent. We know WA, they’ll come out of lockdown in Easter 2032! Why hasn’t the national agreement worked, do you believe?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, I think that people either believe the statistics that the Doherty Institute brought forward or they don’t. What we’ve got to do is make sure that we get to the other end of this, Karl. All these problems are going to go once we get to a position where enough people are vaccinated where we say to everybody else, “Well, if you don’t want to get vaccinated and the vaccines are there at your chemist shop or your GP” – and I suppose that will be around about the end of October – “well, it’s over to you.” Australia’s got to move on and we’ve got to take the heat out of this situation and we’ve got to get the economy working again. Now if people have different ideas about an independent party, which is the Doherty Institute, well, that’s a question between them and the Doherty Institute. Now, we’re going to follow it because we find that out of a whole myriad of opinions – and, by God, aren’t there a lot of them out there at the moment – these are probably the most competent ones to listen to.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Yeah. The thing is, you know, I think Australians by and large have done the right thing. They’ve gone above and beyond. I was at a vaccination hub last night with my daughter who’s 16 at, like, 8 o’clock at night getter her double dose. And when you hear our leaders go, “You know what? Yeah, the national plan was 80 per cent but we’re not sticking to it,” it just instils in you an element of anger because you’re playing ball. I mean, what do you say to these leaders? What are you going to say to the state leaders in order to bring them into line?

BARNABY JOYCE: It’s like herding cats. For a while there we went from a federation back to – I don’t know – little colonies again where I was waiting for Queensland to get their own air force and Western Australia to get their own – I don’t know – navy. But we are a nation and we should work to a national plan. But the Premiers make the decisions about where this goes – not us. We give them advice, we give them the vaccines and they make their health plans. If they want to move away and go on to a sort of different track, well, that’s up to them. But the competent advice is laid out in the Doherty report, and who else are you going to follow?

KARL STEFANOVIC: You’re used to herding cats, though, Barnaby?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, I’m going to be herding cattle on the weekend – not herding, mustering. Herding is an American term. We muster. We muster here.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Okay. Let’s move on. We’ve got a couple of others to get through. Have you ever received an anonymous donation in a blind trust?

BARNABY JOYCE: No, I don’t think so. No, I don’t. I can assure you – no, I haven’t.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Are you sure?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, unless you can tell me now that I have, I’ve never received an anonymous donation from a blind trust, no.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Okay. Do you think that it's acceptable?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, is it against the law? It's obviously not acceptable if you're a minister and, therefore, Christian Porter has done what he thought he had to do and he’s stepped down. He’s now on the backbench and, as I’ve said, you’re out there in the corridor of the afflicted, and I hope at some stage he gets the opportunity to come back. I think he’s very competent, I think he’s very intelligent. He’s going to spend his time in coventry, and that’s what happens. But he didn’t break the law. I think it’s really important – there’s no law he’s broken. There’s a code, a ministerial code. That is not the law, that is the code of the Prime Minister.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Yeah, I reckon if you walked into any pub just down the road from where you are right now and you said, “Look, I’m getting cash through a blind trust. I don’t know where it’s come from,” it’s not going to pass the pub test in any part of this country –

BARNABY JOYCE: Mate, if I walked into a pub just down the road from here right now, what I’d get is the address of the AA conference, mate, because it’s about seven in the morning. But anyhow. In regards to the pub test, yeah, I know that. But there is a lot of differences between the perception on the street on many issues. But the ministerial code is called precisely that; it’s for ministers. It’s administered by the Prime Minister. The minister, Christian Porter, has of his own volition stepped down. He is now on the backbench. Now it’s between him and the people, the electorate of Pearce. And they’ll make the decision and I hope they make the right one and re-elect him.

KARL STEFANOVIC: It just – I mean, it calls into questions, I mean, you receive X amount, you receive a million dollars in a trust. You don’t pay tax on it. You don’t know where it’s exactly come from. I mean, there are just so many – there is a myriad of questions that I don’t get. Anyway, we’ll move on. The PM will meet with the US President in Washington this week. You know they’ll be pushing for emission reduction targets. Dave Sharma this morning in The Australian wants 40 per cent by 2035. At the same time Matt Canavan wants a new coal-fired power station in Queensland. Who wins that battle internally?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, that’s the great thing about democracy, isn’t it? They’re allowed to express their views and stand behind it. Both of them are incredibly smart –

KARL STEFANOVIC: But you have firm views on this, though?

BARNABY JOYCE: I tell you what – Dave Sharma is a great bloke and he’s talking to his constituents in the seat of Wentworth, okay? The seat of Wentworth in, you know, Bellevue Hill, Vaucluse and that area. And they are great people and entitled to their views. Now I’ve got to represent the people out there and their jobs.


BARNABY JOYCE: So that’s the Muswellbrooks, that’s the Singletons, that’s the Tamindas and Tamworth, that’s the farming sector. We’ve got to make sure that we keep them in a job because they want me to do the job for them in looking after them. We see what’s happening in the UK now with the crisis they’re having in gas supplies as they’re going into their winter. We want to make sure we don’t do that to our people. It’s got to be a cogent process otherwise the people who get hurt are the people watching your program.

KARL STEFANOVIC: It’s going to be an interesting dilemma that one to work through. Barnaby, good to talk to you, thanks for your time today. Appreciate it. Have a great day herding those cattle and cats.

BARNABY JOYCE: You’re welcome, Karl.