Interview with Scott Emerson, 4BC Drive

SCOTT EMERSON: Well, thanks for sharing your afternoon with me. Now, 2022. It will be a federal election year. Just don’t know when that election will be held. There was some speculation last year that it could be held reasonably early, maybe in March. But most people think now, especially with the spread of Omicron, it’s more likely to be in May after the Government hands down a budget on March the 29th. But no doubt, whenever it is held, Queensland will be a battleground state for all the major parties. Now, yesterday we had Opposition leader Anthony Albanese on the show, and he’s been campaigning in Queensland the last couple of days. He’s still in Queensland, but there’s someone else also in Queensland at the moment. The Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce. He’s on the line now. Barnaby, great to have you on 4BC Drive in 2022.

BARNABY JOYCE: It’s great to be back in Queensland. Got the girls up here and the boys up here, so spending a bit of time on the sunny coast. But I’m up in Mackay at the moment, Gladstone earlier on, so wandering around the great state, which I was the senator of for eight years, seven months and a day. And making sure that we hear the issues of what’s so important for a state that’s so vital, that puts so many export dollars on the table. It not only supports Queensland but supports our nation.

SCOTT EMERSON: I’m glad you don’t forget that you were a Senator for Queensland. It’s always good to have you back in the state, the Sunshine State. Let’s go through some of the big issues out there at the moment, and I think obviously the first one at the moment is Novak Djokovic. We did see a statement coming out of the Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s office this afternoon while we’ve been on air, saying he won’t be making a decision today. Now, going into the court case in the Federal Circuit Court, you were pretty confident that the visa cancellation would be upheld. Obviously, that wasn’t the outcome yesterday. What’s your expectation now? Will the Government kick Novak Djokovic back out of Australia or let him stay here and play in the Australian Open?

BARNABY JOYCE: What it proves is I got it wrong. My thoughts were that he hadn’t been double vaxxed and the court would find so. It was on procedural process that they came to a different opinion. That just goes to show what a mistake you can make when you pretend you’re a solicitor when you’re actually an accountant. I now will resign from the lofty position of the judicial system and go back to being a political operative and accountant and farmer. I don’t know what happens next. It’s still a ministerial discretion and he wasn’t double vaxxed, but that’s the decision of the court and we’ll respect the decision of the court.

SCOTT EMERSON: Well, look, we do respect the decision of the court, but it appears to be a technical issue about procedural fairness and the Federal Government through its lawyer did flag yesterday straight away that they still had the opportunity and the power to cancel a visa and deport Novak Djokovic. And you don’t need to be a lawyer to know exactly what you said a moment ago. He isn’t fully vaccinated, he’s an antivaxxer. The rules are very clear to come into Australia. You don’t get an exemption just because you’ve had apparently Covid in the last six months. Those rules are in place and we’ve been getting a lot of calls today, Barnaby Joyce, from our listeners here on 4BC Drive, saying, look, if the Government leaves Novak Djokovic here in Australia, they won’t be voting for the LNP because they think, look, they’ve done the right thing. They’ve kept to the rules. They’ve gone out and got the jab. It would just be a slap in their face if they let Novak Djokovic stay in Australia.

BARNABY JOYCE: My view was that he wasn’t double vaxxed and he wasn’t double vaxxed. I expressed that, but you can’t be at angles or try and affect the process of the court. You always come off second best. You can’t even guess the court because as I’ve proved, you’ve come off second best. I’ll stick to my knitting, which is that if Queensland wasn’t exporting so much coal, then Australia wouldn’t have the standard of living that it’s currently got and thank goodness it does. And thank goodness they export the sugar they do and export the cattle they do. I’ll stay away from my views about Novak Djokovic because I had them and I was wrong. I thought the court would say that you haven’t been double vaxxed, so that’s it. They didn’t say that. It’s an issue about procedural process. The Minister still has the capacity if he wishes to exercise his right, the ministerial discretion to cancel the visa. I’ll leave that up to that Minister, Alex Hawke, to either make that decision or not. My narrative on it the last couple of days proved nothing else. I was wrong because I thought that the court would say that you haven’t been double vaxxed and therefore have to go, but that’s not what they said. I’ll pack my tim tams and go back to my manger.

SCOTT EMERSON: Well you wouldn’t be out – Barnaby Joyce, you wouldn’t be the only one that got that wrong. There are a lot of people out there. Look, I thought that clearly the rules are in place and they should have been enforced. So I got that wrong, too. So not you’re, Robinson Crusoe on that one, Barnaby Joyce, but I guess the issue, particularly heading into a federal election. This is a terrible look for the Government. It just looks like it’s been a bit of a mess. It’s debacle, our eggs on our faces across newspapers, across the world.

BARNABY JOYCE: What else can I say? I can say that he’s not double vaxxed. We have a system in Australia which have a separation of powers. You’ve got the judicial system, you’ve got a government system. One cannot tell the other one what to do and that’s how the separation of powers works. It works in a Western democracy. Thank God we’ve got one. With that separation of powers comes things that are the freedoms that we enjoy and love and also comes times where the court will have a different opinion to the one that other people have. That’s how it works. We can’t instruct the judiciary as to the way they should think and what they should do. They are mind unto themselves. The Minister still has the discretion if he so wishes to cancel Mr Djokovic’s visa and that is his decision and his decision alone, not my decision as the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. I don’t think Mr Hawke will be taking calls from me as to what my views are on that and nor should he. He’s going to deliberate over the facts, make a decision, be cold and clinical about it. That’s how this game works. In the meantime, I’m going to be making sure that other issues that I can affect, such as why in the Labor Party policy when they have their so called 2050 target, are they taxing so many businesses in the seat of Flynn and Capricornia, but only one business in Sydney? They have to meet this target. 18 businesses – 18 businesses – in the seat of Flynn are going to be paying taxes to Canberra for them to redistribute as they wish, yet only one business in Sydney has to pay this tax, and 28 businesses in the state of Capricornia have to pay this tax, around Rocky and 18 businesses around Gladstone have to pay this tax, but only one business in Sydney. That sounds like Mr Albanese is sticking the slipper into central Queensland. That is something that is politics. That is my job. That’s the argument that I’m going to be prosecuting here at the moment.

SCOTT EMERSON: I’m talking to Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. He’s in Queensland at the moment. As I said at the beginning of the interview, we’ve got an election due this year. Obviously, we are still seeing a March 29 budget and then expectations of election in May. As I said yesterday, I did speak to Anthony Albanese. He’s in Queensland as well, campaigning at the moment. It will be an important state for both of those sides. Currently, the Coalition holds 23 seats in Queensland. You mentioned the seat of Flynn, that’s one of the seats that Labor is targeting, along with like Leichhardt and other seats around Brisbane as well. How important will it be for you to hold a seat like Flynn when you’ve got a long-standing member in Ken O’Dowd retiring and a concerted campaign from Labor? It’s a difficult campaign up there, isn’t it?

BARNABY JOYCE: Yeah, it is. Ken O’Dowd’s done a great job and he’s been in business and he’s now been in politics. He’s typical central Queensland, sometimes down in Canberra  people on the other benches snigger about that because they think it’s funny that someone actually had a life before they came into politics, actually ran a business before they came into politics, actually earned a buck before they came into politics. But he’s been a good local member and I’m sure that Col Boyce, who you know because he’s been in State Parliament, if given that great opportunity will do a good job for our part. Obviously, it means something to the Labor Party. That’s why they found 18 businesses in the seat of Flynn which they’re going to wallop a tax on to pay for their climate policy. That money, no doubt, will go to the federal coffers and then they can reallocate that money to another part of our nation. And even though in Sydney, with five million people, there’s only one business, they’re going to put the tax on 18 around Gladstone, one in Sydney. That just goes to show you that’s about how they think of central Queensland. If you double up on it in Capricornia around Rockhampton, 28 businesses they’re going to slap their Labor tax on.

SCOTT EMERSON: Barnaby Joyce, you’re talking a lot about the zero net emissions – the impact on businesses. That was obviously a strong campaign at the last federal election in 2019, but is that a little bit being blunted in Queensland, given that both the Federal Government and the Labor Party are both committed to zero net emissions now in 2050? Because you’re both in the same boat on that now.

BARNABY JOYCE: No, we haven’t nominated 18 businesses like the Labor Party has that they’re going to tax, they’re going to wallop their tax on, sink the slipper into central Queensland. We haven’t nominated 28 businesses around Rockhampton in the seat of Capricornia that we’re going to tax. That’s the Labor Party policy. They’re going to tax Queensland businesses to pay for their policy. That’s how theirs works. We have a goal. They, just before Christmas when they thought nobody was watching, put out their policy and their policy is one of taxing central Queensland. That’s how they’re going to meet their climate aspirations. Mr Albanese has been up here. The only thing I’ve heard from him so far is a comment on George Christensen’s social media. It’s about the only thing I heard about him and now we have to go into an election, but we have to clearly let the people of Queensland know there is a definite difference because you can go through all those businesses around Gladstone, around Rockhampton that the Labor Party are going to tax and you can note that when they tax, they take the money out of central Queensland and send it to Canberra for them to reallocate as they see fit.

SCOTT EMERSON: All right, Barnaby Joyce, I appreciate you being on Drive for our first or second show back for the year. And of course, we’ll get you back a lot during this year of a federal election year as well. But thanks for being on the show today.

BARNABY JOYCE: Absolute pleasure.

SCOTT EMERSON: And that was Barnaby Joyce, the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia.