Interview with Richard King and Shanna Bull, 2HD

RICHARD KING: And joining us now is Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who’s on the line. Thank you very much for your time this morning, Deputy Prime Minister.

BARNABY JOYCE: Absolute pleasure. It’s good to be down in the Hunter.

RICHARD KING: Well, it’s nice to have you here. And as one who’s been fined for not wearing a mask, I bet you’re thrilled about the fact that today outside you don’t have to wear one.

BARNABY JOYCE: I’m still a bit gun shy – I’ve got it hanging around my chin. Can’t afford to be forking out for another 200 bucks.

SHANNA BULL: Barnaby, fantastic news – this $10 million funding boost from the Federal Government to help transform the Hunter Sports Centre at Glendale into a world-class facility.

BARNABY JOYCE: Yeah, and it’s something close to my heart. I remember when my daughter was running there in the state championships some years ago and I was looking at where she got the baton on the first corner I think she was on, the first transition. And so it’s good to be able to invest back into that vital piece of infrastructure, which is for the Hunter and for our whole district and people even coming down from Tamworth to be part of that process. So, it’s a help and it builds on what we’re trying to do with things such as the Newcastle bypass – do the big, do the small, get the job done.

RICHARD KING: Look, you mentioned your daughter. And without going into any detail, she’s been trolled on social media and both you and the Prime Minister have had a bit to say about particularly Facebook and other social media forums, wanting to bring them into line. How are you going to go about doing that?

BARNABY JOYCE: I think most parents – I’m not going to try and say for one second this is sort of Barnaby Joyce, this is most parents. We’re sick of having Instagram bullies in the bedroom with your daughter tearing them to pieces from anonymous sources. This has been going on for too long. People on Twitter accounts calling them, you know, Sir Ragdoll 1234, saying whatever they like, people making completely spurious rumours about people. And then to think at the back of this, billionaires becoming richer and billions of dollars going into these massive organisations whilst we spend billions of dollars on mental health issues picking up the pieces on the other side of the equation. Now, okay, yeah, we’re going to do something. I can assure you 100 per cent we’re going to make sure these things change. I’ve been talking to the Prime Minister yesterday. I’ve been talking to him nearly every day. This is the last straw. Things have got to happen, not for my daughter but for every one of your listeners’ daughters – and some sons – who have been basically tortured by this rubbish. Now, the things we can do – we can make them a publisher, therefore, you write it, you own it, you get fined for it. But I think maybe it should go a step further because I don’t particularly want your listeners having to go to court against Mark Zuckerberg, so maybe you just say, “We just fine you. Every time there’s something on, we bang you with a fine and we bang you with a multiple thousand dollar fine. And if you want to fight it, well, you can fight against the Commonwealth of Australia. You can go see them in court, and good luck with that one.” And then we can have a fund and the fund can actually deliver money back out to the people who are trying to deal with the consequences of what’s been happening. But, you know, they shouldn’t be able to do this. You couldn’t do it. A paper can’t do it. A TV station can’t do it. Why the hell can they do it?

SHANNA BULL: Yeah, Barnaby, just personally, though, how is your daughter coping through all this?

BARNABY JOYCE: I just told her to keep her head down, and I just gave her an assurance – because this isn’t the first time it’s happened in our family – that we’re going to do something. It’s not for them; it’s for every parent who has to deal with this.

RICHARD KING: Yes, yeah.

BARNABY JOYCE: Anyway. It drives me – it really angers me.

RICHARD KING: Look, I’m with you on that one. I think we’ve all had enough. Freedom Day – everybody’s talking about New South Wales being the crash test dummy for the rest of the country. But I think the real fear, particularly in regional parts of New South Wales, vaccination rates are pretty low and I’m sure you’re well aware of that, the trepidation that’s being felt in some parts of New South Wales today.

BARNABY JOYCE: We’ve got to make sure that we get this right. We’re doing the right thing. I’m down here at the moment talking to our candidate James Thomson, I’m just having a yarn to him about it and making sure that we clearly land this in such a way as we encourage people to get vaccinated and get back to our point of having liberties and freedoms that we had before in the Hunter Valley and the Upper Hunter and into New England. And we can only do that by vaccinations, but we’ve got to get to a point at some stage where there’s a free flow of people backwards and forth. We can’t have a sort of a state where you’ve got three little states within it. Nor can you have a country where we’ve got three little countries within it. We’ve got to all do the right thing, drive to the highest vaccination rate possible and then get back to the liberties and freedoms that we used to enjoy and we all expect.

SHANNA BULL: Barnaby, WA Premier Mark McGowan isn’t happy with you after you likened the state to North Korea for keeping their border shut. And McGowan even went as far as saying you’re an embarrassment to the Australian Parliament. What would you say in response to that?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, I’d say to Mr McGowan – he’s also from the Hunter Valley by the way, from Newcastle. He pretends that he was born in Perth, he wasn’t. And I think the big issue for him is he’s removing one vote, one value so the people in regions who vote for the upper house, for the upper house, yet he expects Western Australia to keep their 12 senators, but on a federal level he is disenfranchising regional people. He’s turning into the Premier for Perth rather than the Premier for Western Australia and someone’s got to stand up to him. If that’s embarrassing for him, well, I’m sorry, mate, I’m going to make sure we stand up for regional people in Western Australia who you’re leaving behind.

RICHARD KING: They’ve done pretty well over in WA thanks to a high price of iron ore, which has dropped. But the price of thermal coal is going through the roof at the moment, which is certainly good for the Hunter Valley. The Business Council of Australia over the weekend have come out and done a backflip and gone 180 degrees the other way. They were talking about, you know, emissions targets being a no-no, and now they’re talking about emissions targets being an absolute necessity. You and the Nationals are reluctant to commit to a zero 2050 emissions target. Why is that?

BARNABY JOYCE: Because we’ve got to make sure we keep people in the Hunter Valley in a job. The biggest export of this state goes through the Port of Newcastle. And by far the biggest cash flow that drives this area comes from coal. Now no one’s banging on about a big whole in the ground thinking it’s beautiful. We know that. But we want to make sure we keep people in a job. We want to make sure that they can continue to pay for their house, to get the standard of living that for a long time we’ve been fighting for in the Hunter Valley. And now it’s coming, it’s arriving here. And we want to make sure that continues on. And we can’t continue on if we’re going to shut down our major export and the major income earner for the area. Now the Business Council of Australia wanted us to go out and fight against the mining resource tax and the super profits tax, which we did. And now they’ve turned around and said, “Oh, well, no, we’ve changed our mind.” Well, what happens in the future if a future government says, “Well, to pay for this, we have to go” – we’re seeing currently in the United Kingdom with their energy crisis, remember in the United Kingdom energy prices have gone up six-fold. We have seen people making a choice now between whether they eat or whether they can turn on their heater. We have an energy crisis in China, an energy crisis in Europe. Now if we get an energy crisis here and a future government says, “Well, we’ve got to go find the money,” do they expect us to go back in and bat for them?

RICHARD KING: PEP 11 has been a hot topic in our neck of the woods. The former Deputy Premier here in New South Wales and former Nationals Leader John Barilaro said it’s a bad idea. The Prime Minister said it’s a bad idea. I think every MP on the east coast that may be affected by this has said, “No, it’s not a good idea.” It expired back in February, but Keith Pitt seems to be reluctant to make a call on that. When can we expect a decision on whether or not it will be cancelled or renewed, that PEP 11?

BARNABY JOYCE: This is obviously in the remit – that’s why we have Cabinet ministers. It’s in their remit; not in my remit. They make a decision. Look, I know how annoying these things are. I’ve got a PEL over one of the places – I’ve got a couple of farming blocks. I’ve got a PEL over both of them, and it’s been there forever. And it’s, yeah, it’s disconcerting. But, you know, I deal with it.

RICHARD KING: But it did expire in February. I mean, that’s a long time ago.

SHANNA BULL: 12th of February.

BARNABY JOYCE: It sounds like it’s not very encouraging, does it? It sounds like it’s not going to get renewed. I’ll leave that up to the minister.

RICHARD KING: Okay.

SHANNA BULL: Barnaby, do you think we’re a step closer to having a federal ICAC after the New South Wales Independent Commissioner against Corruption forced the recent resignation of Gladys Berejiklian as Premier last week, and how do you feel about that?

BARNABY JOYCE: I want to make sure that we don’t get to a point where the country’s run by bureaucrats and not elected officials. The big issue is the power must reside ultimately with the people that you go to the ballot box and elect. And if we have another body that can basically force their resignation then they inherently become more powerful than the person you actually voted for. And we can’t have that. One of my issues with ICAC is that once you’re under investigation it’s expected you step aside. If you’re under investigation and found innocent, well, you’ve lost your job. That means it becomes a pretty potent form of a weapon if a nefarious person gets hold of it because they just make an allegation against you on 2HD and next thing you know you haven’t got a job and later on it’s proved it was all rubbish. Too late, you’re out of a job.

RICHARD KING: Right. Look, thank you very much for your time this morning. But while you’re in our neck of the woods, it is freedom day in New South Wales. Are you likely to be partaking of a draughtie somewhere today?

BARNABY JOYCE: I’ll ask James Thomson if he wants to go for an early morning beer, but I think it’ll say the wrong thing about both of us.

SHANNA BULL: What’s your go-to beer, Barnaby?

BARNABY JOYCE: VB.

SHANNA BULL: VB. There you go, he’s a VB man.

RICHARD KING: I think I feel like it right now. Thank you very much for your time this morning.

SHANNA BULL: Thank you.

BARNABY JOYCE: Okay, see you.

RICHARD KING: Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce. He will be here along with Kay Fraser, the Lake Macquarie Mayor, and it’s the announcement of a $10 million federal funding through the Building Better Regions Fund, and it’s going to turn along with other council money and state money into – well, the Glendale sports centre into a world-class facility.

SHANNA BULL: Yeah, big news for our region today.

RICHARD KING: Yeah, it is big news.

ENDS