Interview with Peta Credlin, Sky News Australia

PETA CREDLIN: I said it at the top of the show didn’t I? It was a fiery Question Time today, Labor querying the rumoured appointment of the Mayor of Tamworth as the next chair of Infrastructure Australia.

CATHERINE KING: Can the Deputy Prime Minister confirmed that the first chair of Infrastructure Australia was Sir Rod Eddington, who led Cathay Pacific, British Airways and was director of JPMorgan and NewsCorp. Can he also confirm the government has decided, but not yet announced that the new chair of Infrastructure Australia will be the retiring Mayor of Tamworth, Col Murray, who has described himself as a fairly solid Barnaby supporter.

BARNABY JOYCE: Mr Speaker, I’m sorry that the hypocrisy is, what is wrong with the Mayor, the former Mayor of Tamworth? Does he not have quite enough letters after his name to be considered worthy by the Labor Party, a person who’s been in the construction industry for 25 years, a person who’s one of the leading Mayors in New South Wales. I’m sorry, what would you have said about Chifley? That his train wasn’t big enough? I mean, what is it? What has happened to the Labor Party?

PETA CREDLIN: Chifley and his train? I tell you what Barnaby Joyce did miss. The Deputy Prime Minister, leader of the National Party, joins me now from Canberra. Well, Barnaby Joyce, that was a statement of class politics and I didn’t think I’d see the day where a Labor MP, Catherine King there, in that case, Member for Ballarat attacks your side of politics because someone in line for a job or potentially in line for a job doesn’t have a big enough or fancy enough CV, that’s role reversal against the stereotype. What’s modern Labor got against working people?

BARNABY JOYCE: It was amazing, I was completely gobsmacked. Maybe if his name was Sir Col Murray, who previously worked for Barclays and they would have come out clapping and cheering and throwing confetti around the place. You see it every now and then – they open themselves up. And this conceit, this inner urban conceit and they’re almost guffawing like “ha ha, he’s from a regional area, he’s a regional Mayor ha ha”. And when they do that, they show themselves for who they really are. They take regional Australia as a joke. They think that everybody outside of the inner urban and sanctums, if you can’t see them from Ultimo, they’re ultimately hillbillies. That’s basically it. And it really gripes people in regional Australia. So maybe people weren’t endowed with the same capacity to go to a sandstone university, as no doubt many of the colleagues of the Member for Ballarat have. But that doesn’t make them lesser people. And I can assure you that someone who has had the experience of running their own business – who has been Mayor of one of our major regional cities, who’s had incredible success in that role – has the capacity, even if they haven’t been to university, to have the intellect, the guile, the cunning and all the attributes required to be chairman of a board because they’ve been mayor of a city. And what they also have that maybe the Member for Ballarat doesn’t have is real life experience of the sweat running down the back of your neck when the bank manager says you’ve got to pay, starts asking you the questions about how business is going and you know you have to pay the staff on Friday and you know you have to actually get the quotes in yourself. You’ve actually seen business, not from the academic end but from the real end where it’s your name at the bottom of the chequebook. Now what we want to do with Infrastructure Australia board is not remove everybody with letters after their name and there’ll be a fair run of them.

PETA CREDLIN: I tell you what the former accountant, country town accountant there is not far away from the surface on these issues, Barnaby, I know you’ve been out in electorates in recent weeks. These coal blockades have been a big issue. What are you hearing on the ground? What are people in these communities saying to you?

BARNABY JOYCE: They’re furious. These people who come in, put themselves on scaffolding, start giving their little ceremonies and lectures and railing to the great god Gaia. At the same time shutting down the capacity for royalties to be owned by the state that pays for the hospitals and for the schools and for the police. Shutting down the capacity for the taxes that are earned, that probably pays for their social security. No doubt a number of them would have been on social security, been on the other hard earning taxpayers teat, making sure that we maintain their lifestyle. They put a car on a railway line, or basically put in danger not only their own lives but the lives of the other people driving trains. They just don’t believe that, they believe that it’s their right to shut down coalminers’ jobs, their right to shut down the Port of Newcastle, to shut down the wheat trains, to shut down the commuters. The right reigns supreme. This is another form of absolute conceit. They have a right, apparently to break the law. But I’m glad to see that at a state level, they don’t quite believe in their rights, like these protesters believe in their own rights and some of them now are going to be slapped with jail terms because they could have killed people, including themselves. And they don’t understand this. What really annoys me, Peta, the reason your money in your wallet, that polymer note in your wallet is worth something is because somebody overseas believes they need some of that to buy a product that you export and Australia exports, iron ore, coal, gas, daylight, daylight, daylight, education, ag products. And if we remove our capacity for those products that the world wants, the value of that polymer note in your wallet becomes less. Which means when you want to buy a fuel for your car, which comes in from overseas, it’s worth more. The car, the price of it goes up, your phone, your shirt, your tie, your shoes, the lights, your phone, your television, your fridge and on and on it goes. And that is called inflation. And when inflation goes up, guess what the Reserve Bank does? It raises interest rates. Guess what Australia has? A whole heap of people whose private debt levels are quite high. And so they don’t see the ramifications of their actions right through to the end. And we’ve got to call these people out. And sometimes people say, don’t mention, you can’t talk about the coal industry. You actually do because it’s one of our nation’s biggest exports. But they weren’t just holding up the coal industry. They were holding up the wheat industry. They were holding up commuters going to work because they believe that they have a right to lie on a railway line.

PETA CREDLIN: Good on you, Barnaby. You don’t win a political fight by vacating the field. Stay on it. Keep going. Very interested in those comments from the ground out in coal country. Thank you for your time.