Panel with Joel Fitzgibbon – Sunrise, Prime 7

NATALIE BARR: Prince Charles has addressed world leaders ahead of the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow urging them to match their words with action as the lives of future generations are in their hands.

PRINCE CHARLES: It is only too clear that we will need trillions of dollars of investment every year to create the necessary new infrastructure and meet the vital 1.5 degrees climate target.

NATALIE BARR: Almost 200 countries will come together to discuss progress being made to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Joining me now is Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon. Good morning to you both. Barnaby, your government’s climate plan has been criticised for having no new policies, no legislation, and you haven’t even released the modelling behind it. Why should the world think we are taking this seriously?

BARNABY JOYCE: Because we have met and beat every other target that the world has set us in the past. And so what really matters is your actions and you can stand behind them and say everything we’ve said that we were going to do we did, which is different, to be quite frank Nat, to a lot other countries who there’ll be a heap of hoopla and caviar and cartwheels, and then they’ll just get back on their jet and forget all about it.

NATALIE BARR: Okay, Barnaby, on that –

BARNABY JOYCE: Australia doesn’t do that.

NATALIE BARR: I know your government keeps saying that, but other people, a UN report this year, has ranked Australia last out of 193 members on climate action per capita. Electricity emissions have increased by around a third since 1990, transport emissions have grown by more than half. So who’s right here?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, God forbid our electricity emissions would go up. How disgusting. People should turn off their air-conditioners right now. People should turn off their appliances. If the reason electricity is there as going up it’s because people are using, the people are demanding it. And what we’re trying to make sure that we do is keep the lights on and keep their air-conditioners on and make sure their lift still works. We can’t take the nation into a place where we put that at risk because no-one’s going to thank you for that.

So we’re meeting our commitments. And what one report wants to say about us is up to them. Whereabouts was China on that list? Because China’s not even really part of this. What about India? Do they crack a feature on the list? Was Iran and Russia, were they on there? Or are we dismissing China as irrelevant. So, it’s ridiculous. If China and India and Russia don’t play the game, it really has no consequence in any case. You’re not going to achieve anything in Glasgow without them.

NATALIE BARR: So, Joel, is that how we should view it? Well, they’re worse so we shouldn’t do much either?

JOEL FITZGIBBON: Nat, I think Scott Morrison has two challenges this week – the first is to demonstrate that Australia is a team player and we are willing and able to do our bit on climate change policy, proportionate, of course, to our global contribution, which is a little more than one per cent, but at the same time ensure that no architecture comes out of Glasgow which does harm to our own economy and to Australian jobs. That means rejecting any attempt to force us into a sort of global carbon trading scheme. It means ensuring that we’re not expected to take into account scope 3 emissions – that is the emissions burned from our fossil fuels when they are consumed in other countries – and ensuring that methane from livestock is not required to be taken into account.

And I’d like to see Scott Morrison do one other thing finally in his speech this week – and that is to talk more about the net side of net zero emissions and discuss the enormous opportunities we have here in Australia to expand our plantation estate to not only absorb more carbon out of the atmosphere but to create jobs here in Australia. We’ve got the land, we’ve got the resources, we’ve got the people, and we’ve got an opportunity to create lots of jobs here and reduce our growing import dependency on timber from other countries.

NATALIE BARR: Yeah, he’s really in the hot seat, isn’t he, over there. Overnight French President Emanuel Macron has accused Scott Morrison of lying to him over the dumped submarine deal. Have a listen to this.

EMANUEL MACRON: I do say when you have respect you have to be true, and you have to behave in line and consistently with this value.

JOURNALIST: Do you think he lied to you?

EMANUEL MACRON: I don’t think, I know.

NATALIE BARR: Barnaby, that’s pretty clear. You’ve got the leader of a big nation saying that our Prime Minister lied.

BARNABY JOYCE: That’s it. I’m not backing [indistinct] in the Cup. It’s out. I understand that people are hurt, but I think we’ve got to act like senior politicians as well. And this issue has got to move on. It was a contract. It was a commercial contract. A commercial contract, which I think people were made abundantly clear that it wasn’t working out that well. You didn’t have to listen the Prime Minister; you just had to read the papers and you would have got a pretty good idea that it wasn’t hunky dory as far as that contract was going.

NATALIE BARR: Yeah, Joel, what do you think most Australians think of this? We were spending a lot of money and it doesn’t sound like we were getting much bang for our buck. Is it okay that we got out of it this way or could we have done it better?

JOEL FITZGIBBON: Two things, Nat. I think they look at Scott Morrison’s behaviour and see a rookie’s error on the diplomatic front. But I think they’ll be more concerned about the fact that the Collins Class submarines will be at least 40 years old before one of the new nuclear submarines is delivered – that is, if everything goes well.

NATALIE BARR: Okay. Okay, we thank you. We’ve got to let you go. Thanks for your time. We’ll see you next week. Here’s Kochie.