Interview with Karl Stefanovic, Channel 9, The Today Show

KARL STEFANOVIC: Climate policy has once again driven a wedge between the Coalition with the Liberals and Nationals at loggerheads over Australia’s 2050 net zero emissions target. Nationals Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is live with us in Canberra now. Barnaby, good morning, good to see you again.

BARNABY JOYCE: Good to see you too, Karl, and your listeners.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Do you feel like the PM is just not that into the Nationals?

BARNABY JOYCE: We are working our way methodically through. Our job in the Nationals is to represent regional people. That means you take the views of your constituency in regional areas across Australia, take them to the parliament, make sure that those views are well considered because then you have to explain them back to your constituency. I think that is the role of the Nationals and most certainly the roles of Nationals parliamentarians and all the regional towns across Australia where we come from. We are getting a range of concerns being conveyed to us. They’re ringing up the office, they’re walking in. They're people we know, they’re not the randoms who have a campaign from outside your electorate to ring you up and pester you, and we've got to make sure we respect that and got to make sure we look after their jobs and look after the money they bring in to maintain their house, to maintain their standard of living, to bring about the continued growth of their regional cities. That is our job and we won't be swayed by that. That’s all we’re going to do.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Bill Shorten reckons you and the Liberals at the moment are like the Squid Game, you're just trying to kill each other.

BARNABY JOYCE: Well Bill, god bless his cotton socks, has a lot of time on his hands if he can watch the Squid Game. I must admit I haven’t seen it, I will go to the nearest aquarium to see what they get up to.

KARL STEFANOVIC: I knew you'd be no good with a pop culture reference. Hey Barnaby, on a serious note, the PM now says he doesn't need you anyway for a deal. That’s not very neighbourly, is it?

BARNABY JOYCE: I suppose what he says there is I suppose correct, but we want to make sure we maintain a tight coalition. I think the nation expects that of us. We will make sure that we give our best endeavours to do that. We’re not going to be haphazard. It’s not about ransom and it’s not about grandstanding, it is certainly about looking after regional people. This is something that we've looked at for years and we've got to continue that. We can't just decide that we are going to go in a different direction without proper consideration of the people who sent us to Canberra. We will do that.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Will you have a deal by time he goes to Glasgow?

BARNABY JOYCE: My party room is diligently going through it. It is not a unilateral decision. It is not the decision of Barnaby – it sounds weird talking about yourself in the third person so I won’t do that again.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Yeah it does.

[LAUGHTER]

BARNABY JOYCE: What I'm trying to emphasise is it's the role of the party room. I'm genuinely taking on board their views, making sure we have the proper respectful forum where those views can be conveyed. They are many and varied and right across the dynamic of this very vexed issue but ultimately we have to land on a spot and say that's where we are and if we want to go forward, that's what we need to bring about a proper protection of all those jobs so we look after Singleton and Muswellbrook, look after Rockhampton and Gladstone and Emerald and Tamworth and Wagga and also the other towns, your Bussletons, and Tasmania, everywhere. We have to make sure that we do the right job for the Tennant Creeks, this is really important, and the Townsvilles. We're going to do it, and we’re sitting down in a diligent process that continues on and we're trying to make sure that we come forward with a proposition that deals with that. I hear amounts of money. It’s not about a grab bag of money. It is about making sure there is a policy structure that protects us because we’ve seen this problem before. We got done over with the EPBC Act and vegetation laws. We have an EPBC Act now that creeps into every corner of our lives, most pertinently in regional Australia. The divestment of an asset which was private property which was vegetation rights was never handed back and never paid for. When we talk about modelling, my gosh, didn’t they do all the modelling in England and Europe about an energy crisis. Look at it, it is chaos. Modelling is not a message from god. It is an opinion of a person.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Barnaby, it's either yes, no, or you're not sure yet whether or not there'll be a deal by the time he goes to Glasgow, right?

BARNABY JOYCE: Of course. That’s a fair question for you to ask on behalf of your listeners. If it was a straight yes, you would have had it by now because we have had very, very long and detailed, tenuous meetings at times. We’ve had them, we haven't heard the word "Yes", so we're still working through it. People have a right to know that.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Can I say this: You've got a hit list out there you want and I reckon it is quite reasonable. You’re spending on regional Australia. You're willing to explore things like nuclear power but he is basically saying, no matter what that deal is, not matter what he’s taken to you, and the speculation about 20 billion for regional Australia, no matter what it is, he doesn't care, he is going to cut his own deal regardless?

BARNABY JOYCE: I'm not the voice of the Prime Minister and I'm not going to try and pretend or start negotiating on camera as to the combinations and permutations of this process. I've been through them before. The ETS, the single desk, the carbon tax debates, we don't come to this as newbies, we know what the process is and we know how this works.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Basically, it really irritates you but you're not going to get into the irritation at this point?

BARNABY JOYCE:  Well, Karl, you might say that. I cannot possible comment.

KARL STEFANOVIC: I can tell it's winding you up. It is winding you up like a spring coil this morning.

BARNABY JOYCE: No, you're winding me up, Karl, and you're an expert at it.

[LAUGHTER]

KARL STEFANOVIC: I am trying to wind you up a bit. I'll let you go to it. Good on you, Barnaby, good to talk to you today.

BARNABY JOYCE:  Good to talk to you today.