Transcript - Interview with Natalie Barr, Channel 7, Sunrise

EO&E…

NATALIE BARR: For more, I’m joined by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. Good morning to you, Barnaby.

BARNABY JOYCE: Good morning, Nat.

NATALIE BARR: Now, the paper says these poll results mean the Coalition is off the ventilator but still in ICU. Has the Budget started to do its job for you?

BARNABY JOYCE: I think the Budget showed a clear difference between a vision of building dams, building rail, making our nation as strong as possible as quickly as possible. And in Mr Albanese’s 36 minutes, all we heard was a very important issue, aged care, we grant that, that’s a very important issue, but no idea of how we actually pay for any of this. No proposal of how we can make our nation stronger. Not one infrastructure project. That’s something that our nation’s got to do in light of the circumstances of what we see with China pushing forward and becoming a real and imminent threat to Australia and their positioning in the Pacific and what’s happening in the Ukraine. I think people are starting to say well it’s not a referendum for or against the Government, it’s actually a choice between whether you want Peter Dutton as the Defence Minister or you want Brendan O’Connor, or whether you want Penny Wong as your Foreign Affairs Minister or you want Marise Payne, or whether you want Mr Albanese or Mr Morrison, or Barnaby Joyce, and I know it’s between sort of Marles and Catherine King, I don’t know actually which one’s my opponent.

NATALIE BARR: It’s getting pretty personal, isn’t it, though? Let’s go to that name calling and the attacks against the Prime Minister over the weekend. Things are getting messy with many calling this an orchestrated hit campaign. Barnaby, you have called the PM a hypocrite and a liar in the past, we’ve talked about that. What do you make of these accusations of racial vilification by the PM?

BARNABY JOYCE: The first thing is, you know, what people say publicly and what people say in messages that should be kept private, because I never actually sent to the person who discloses them, is something completely different. But what we have seen is the Lebanese community have come out and backed Mr Morrison and basically I believe they see this as it is, that when you get these accusations right on the eve of an election they can wrap them up in political hit, not a true reflection of what is the case. If this is the honest view, then they could have litigated this years ago, but it wasn’t. It’s come out now because they’re orchestrating a political hit. I think that’s a concern because it means that the campaign – if you’re going to use, call someone basically a racist and they’re not, you’re actually using racism as your weapon and I don’t think we need an election that’s around that.

NATALIE BARR: I guess the ‑ and you’re right, it is messy, and the Prime Minister has emphatically denied it. But I guess the difference here is you’ve got not one but two people who have signed stat decs six years ago saying Scott Morrison told them, “Don’t vote for the Lebanese guy because his family background will put off voters in the wake of the Cronulla riots”. That’s quite serious. They’re not saying it at the pub. They signed statutory declarations. Is that a concern of yours?

BARNABY JOYCE: What you do with these things is you look at the timing of when they come out, and if the timing is just before an election, then the purpose is obviously for a political effect. That has to come into consideration. This is not something that was brought up to be earnestly dealt with behind closed doors, in camera, in the effective manner which you think a process should be undertaken. It’s an allegation. Remember, let’s call it what it is. An allegation has been publicly ventilated before an election and you know why people do that. They do that to politically hurt you. I just think that that diminishes from really what we need to be talking about, which is why does Mr Albanese and the Greens, the Labor Greens alternative, has to be judged in comparison to a National-Liberal Party alternative. That’s where the political debate should be because that’s the one your children, your grandchildren, that’s the outcome your children and grandchildren have to live with.

NATALIE BARR: Okay. So any of the dirt that comes out in the next few weeks I guess we can put all that aside and maybe we could talk politics, because I think most Australians would like that. You’re in lots of important meetings with the PM, when he’s going to call the election?

BARNABY JOYCE: He’s going to call the election at 5.30 on Thursday afternoon – no, how would I know? That is a decision…

NATALIE BARR: Well you’d know more than I would, come on.

BARNABY JOYCE: He probably hasn’t fully made up his mind yet himself. It’s a decision that only the Prime Minister, he has complete authority on it. He’ll ring me up I suppose when he’s about to call it, but that hasn’t happened, and I imagine the election will be either on the 14th or the 21st. You know, because I don’t know I’m going to take a bet, so I’ll say the 14th, but who knows?

NATALIE BARR: Okay, well that’s good. And that’s as far as we can go, I guess. Onto something else. There are also reports today international streaming giant Amazon Prime is interested in bidding for local sporting rights, including the Olympics. Now that could force Australians to pay to watch their sporting heroes compete.

BARNABY JOYCE: Yep.

NATALIE BARR: Anthony Albanese’s recently told Kochie all sport should be made available on free‑to‑air, anti‑siphoning legislation needed to be tightened. Do you agree with that?

BARNABY JOYCE: Yeah, I think that issues such as the Olympics should be available for the Australian people to watch. It’s a representation of our nation. There are so many kids out in the country or in the city areas that when you grow up here, you want to watch that television and see the person who’s your idol, whether it was Cathy Freeman in the past or whether it’s Kieran Perkins in lane 8 at the Atlanta Olympics. These are the things that sort of remain with you for the rest of your life and the idea that only the kids who can pay for it can see it is incredibly noxious to me. Events such as that should be available for everybody to see.

NATALIE BARR: Okay. Barnaby Joyce, we thank you for your time this morning.

BARNABY JOYCE: There’s a kangaroo right behind the cameraman, it’s been collecting my eyes.

NATALIE BARR: Well I hope it didn’t put you off. That’s Australia for you. Deputy Prime Minister out amongst it.