Transcript - Alan Jones, Sky News Australia

ALAN JONES: Well, the new Deputy Prime Minister, and National Party leader, joins me. Barnaby Joyce, good evening, thank you for your time. Congratulations. Firstly, and can I just say –

BARNABY JOYCE: You’re welcome Alan.

ALAN JONES: Contrary to what you might read, there is tremendous support for you in the bush. Why was leadership change necessary?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, I’m not in the Twitter puddle, but I never expected that to happen. Look, politics. You sign up for politics. You understand politics. You understand how it works. It works very closely to how you watch the State of Origin. State of Origin got a whole heap of good players, but some of them won’t play in the next game. It’s just the way it works. Sign up for first grade footy. Sometimes things are up for you. Sometimes things are down and people got broad shoulders and you know the character of the person and about how to take the hit, I suppose. Now the decision to change was not mine. It was made by colleagues. And I respect Michael and I want to make sure Michael goes on to do other jobs for our nation. As a former Deputy Prime Minister –

ALAN JONES: I’m sure, to interrupt you there Barnaby. I’m sure your colleagues were getting feedback that Scott Morrison can’t win government if you can’t. National Party can’t hold the seats in the bush. There were massive swings at the last election, Calare, a 17 per cent swing to the Shooters. In Mallee, the Nationals got 27 per cent of the vote, a swing against them of 28 per cent. Damien Drum, a swing against him of 13 per cent. Darren Chester had a swing against him in Gippsland. Parkes 8 per cent. I mean, you’ve been down this track before. When you contested New England in a by-election, after resigning over dual citizenship that saved Turnbull’s Prime Ministership, you won almost 65 per cent of the primary vote. Now, all this suggests a massive mandate to represent the bush. So let me address the downside if I may. The same bush is saying, that under Turnbull and Joyce the government built no dams, did nothing to push for nuclear energy, nothing on coal and allowed the Liberals to talk left-wing Greens rubbish on energy policy. So we can take them one by one, dams and water. What are you going to do?

BARNABY JOYCE: Okay, well, I reckon the first dam that was built in New England was basically the day I got back. We started on Chaffey Dam, extended it from 60,000 megalitres to 103,000 megalitres. The Booroolong frog almost stopped us because apparently frogs have more rights than the people of the city of Tamworth. We’ve fixed that and we made sure it was built. Then we got the money in the first tranche of the dams fund and Rookwood Weir is being built as we speak. I went down to Scottsdale and between the State, the farmers and the Federal Government, we’ve got the Scottsdale irrigation project underway. We’ve got the Wirrimah, Mallee-Loddon, the Loddon pipeline underway. We’ve got massive infrastructure that was being built throughout the Murray-Darling Basin. We’ve got $23 million on the table for Mole River Dam and also up the upgraded Quipolly Dam. I’m not saying –

ALAN JONES: So what does this mean to farmers, Barnaby? What’s this mean to farmers? Because if farmers can have reliable access to water, we could feed the whole of Asia.

BARNABY JOYCE: Yeah. Well I think what we’ve got to do and you can’t change yourself completely just because you are the DPM. I believe that we should be getting the water from North Queensland, making sure the people, the great state of Queensland, have the capacity to irrigate those black soil plains out in the west –  

ALAN JONES: That’s it –

BARNABY JOYCE: Increase the agricultural wealth of Queensland and of our nation. And when they don’t need the water, we can send it south to the people of Bourke, in the western districts of New South Wales, and ultimately to go all the way to South Australia. And this is something we can do –

ALAN JONES: When is that going to happen? When’s it gonna happen?

BARNABY JOYCE: I’ll tell you right now, I’m going to be fighting for it. And I’m back in a position where hopefully I can start moving in that direction. I think at the next election, the people are going to look for a vision. They’re going to look for how you make this nation a stronger, safer place. A place where we note that the rise of China, we have got to use every sinew in our being to make sure that we are as strong as possible. As strong as possible, as quickly as possible. To deal with the issues that –

ALAN JONES: Well you can’t be that, you can’t be that if you don’t have reliable, available and affordable energy. Now when, earlier this year, five of your colleagues drafted legislation allowing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in nuclear powers. At a time when many Liberals actually are saying the ban on nuclear power should be lifted. The Prime Minister says he won’t move to legislate nuclear energy unless there is bipartisan support with Labor. Barnaby, is that leadership?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, you know I, I reckon he’s probably not far away from what will actually happened. The AWU, AWU, Australian Workers Union supports nuclear power. I tell you, in a lot of the private conversations I have with people in the Labor Party, they support nuclear power.

ALAN JONES: Yes.

BARNABY JOYCE: It’s a strange group because, you got one group who says, well, look, you know, we don’t live in the 1980s, we weren’t even born then. So Chernobyl and all that is ancient history for us. We weren’t born then, and we’ve moved on to where we are 2021. And we see what they’re doing with new scale reactors, small modular reactors, four and a half metres wide, seven metres high –

ALAN JONES: Barnaby, just for the public out there, we’ve got 44 per cent of the world’s uranium. And yet there are 45 countries operating at least 450 nuclear reactors in the world. Over 60 nuclear power plants under construction in 15 countries. We’ve got the uranium, someone else has got the cheap energy. Tell our viewers how that makes sense.

BARNABY JOYCE: It doesn’t. We dig it up. We semi process it. We send it through the middle of town. We put it on the boat and all that, to all that process for the utilisation of electricity. It’s immoral. Then as it travels over saltwater, it gets moral, it gets morality and gets to be used by somebody else. And now we’re talking about taking the rubbish back and burying it back in Australia. There’s only one part of that transaction we’re not part of and that is actually generating our own power –

ALAN JONES: Absolutely –

BARNABY JOYCE: Australia, we have a nuclear reactor, we have a nuclear reactor and guess where it is?

ALAN JONES: Lucas Heights.

BARNABY JOYCE: Bang smack in the geographic centre of Sydney.

ALAN JONES: Well, just coming back to our power –  

BARNABY JOYCE: With blocks next door. blocks next door to it, they didn’t need, sold for $1 million each. That’s how much Australians think about reactors.

ALAN JONES: Just come back to that electricity because the Labor Party is saying that they want 50 per cent of our electricity from renewable energy by 2030. That will cost a $100 billion minimum in new wind, geothermal and solar. You’d need 10 times the present number of wind turbines, 11,000 of them. Shouldn’t we be increasing the number of high efficiency, low emission coal fired power stations and go nuclear?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, if the people want it. Look, I always say if people want renewable energy, they want the towers, they want solar. That’s, that’s their choice and they’re entitled to make it, it’s a free country. I think we absolutely need high efficiency, low emission coal fire power stations. Because one of the biggest earners of export dollars for everybody watching this tonight, it’s coal, thermal coal, record amounts, record price. Now, no one likes the big holes in the ground, no one’s pretending that for one second. Okay, they’re ugly. We get that. But the point is, you like your health system, you like your education system. You like your money for the NDIS, you like being defended. And this money has to come from somewhere. From the red rocks, iron ore, from the black rocks, coal, from the smell that comes beneath the ground, gas. And that’s a big part of your exporting, income earning. Then you’ve got gold, then you’ve got daylight, daylight, more daylight and other things.

ALAN JONES: We’re the only G20 country without nuclear power, the only G20 country without nuclear power. Bridget McKenzie –  

BARNABY JOYCE: Let’s have the debate, let’s have the debate.

ALAN JONES: Yes, Bridget McKenzie and others including –  

BARNABY JOYCE: I can say to the Australian people let’s have a debate.

ALAN JONES: Sorry. You and Bridget McKenzie, Matt Canavan and others drafted legislation earlier this year allowing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in nuclear power. If you’ve got Coalition backbenchers, I’m told up to 48, prepared to lift the prohibition on nuclear power, what’s now stopping you and when?

BARNABY JOYCE: Welcome to democracy. I mean, if that’s and people know where I am, I can’t change for a new position. I believe we should have nuclear power. And, and I believe that anything to make our nation a stronger place is the path we should be going down and people want zero emissions. Well, this is it. I mean, you can have you wind, you can have your solar. But if you want baseline deliverable 24/7 zero emission power, then nuclear does it. And if you can get a reactor, think about it, just listen to this; four and a half metres wide, seven metres high and bury it in the ground, made in a factory in the United States, I don’t know why it’s not made here, but I think that’s the decision we made, that would power the City of Tamworth, the City of Armidale and a lot of other towns beside just by itself, by one, by one. You bring it on the back of a truck. Come on! Let’s get to the year we live in.

ALAN JONES: What do you say to people like the Governor of the Bank of England or our own banks here? That the ANZ won’t fund the Port of Newcastle and the Governor of the Reserve Bank says firms that align their business models to the transition to a net zero world will be rewarded handsomely, those who fail to adapt will cease to exist. Is that blackmail?

BARNABY JOYCE: Yeah. I mean, it should be the banks, you know, banks in Australia have a four pillar banking policy. We protect them, right? We protect them from competition. And I think that comes with a responsibility that if something is legal and financially stands up, then you should be investing in it. You said there are a lot of people in the high echelons of banks who believe that they own the banks, they made the banks. No, they just presented very, very well for an interview which got them a job in the bank, and they don’t own it, it’s not their money. And they should reflect on that and stop acting like it’s their actual money. They got there because they did a very good job at a job interview.

ALAN JONES: We’ve run out of time. Great to talk to you. Nice that you’re there, giving a bit of intellectual clout. Make sure you wear a mask, next time you’re out there –

BARNABY JOYCE: I’ll give you a funny story, the other day, you’ll like this story. I went into the Caltex service station. I was going to the airport. I forgot to get fuel for Biggie. Fill the car up with fuel. Went in, 30 seconds later. Two hundred bucks, it cost me because I didn’t wear one of these and that’s life.

ALAN JONES: Good on you Barnaby. There he is, Barnaby Joyce. More Alan Jones after the break.