ABC Afternoon Briefing 15/11/21

15 November 2021

SUBJECTS: Barnaby Joyce shouting at trains and ships is symbolic of eight shambolic years under the Liberals and Nationals; PM signing an agreement he has no intention of keeping; Glasgow climate summit; Government’s climate pamphlet; A faux PM staging a faux election campaign.




SUBJECTS: Barnaby Joyce shouting at trains and ships is symbolic of eight shambolic years under the Liberals and Nationals; PM signing an agreement he has no intention of keeping; Glasgow climate summit; Government’s climate pamphlet; A faux PM staging a faux election campaign.

PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: I'm joined this afternoon by the Shadow Treasurer, Jim Chalmers. Jim Chalmers, hello.


KARVELAS: It's been an eventful show for me.


KARVELAS: Australia signed the Glasgow climate summit's final agreement, including a request for nations to set more ambitious 2030 targets. A few hours later, the federal government said its 2030 target was fixed. I spoke to Barnaby Joyce before, he says the Nationals didn't sign up to this. Executive government certainly did but, you know, clearly the Nationals are not in favour - or he and Matt Canavan, the two Nationals I've spoken to are not - what does this mean for the contest? Does this mean that you go to the next election campaign with a much more ambitious target and that's where the contrast is at, the sort of mid-term target?

CHALMERS: One burst of shouty incoherence from Barnaby Joyce I think sums up the past eight years of shambolic inaction on climate change and cleaner and cheaper energy, which has seen all the jobs and opportunities and investment largely go begging. Of course Labor will be more ambitious when it comes to cleaner and cheaper energy. We understand, as do the state governments, as to the big employers, as does the global community, that there are more jobs and more opportunities and more investment which flows from doing the right thing, getting our emissions down, but most importantly, getting that additional cleaner and cheaper energy into the system.

Barnaby Joyce shouting at trains and shouting at ships in the harbour is not going to get our emissions down, it's not going to get our cost of energy down, and it's not going to build a meaningful future for the regions. I think that much is clear.

KARVELAS: Okay, what does it mean for Australia's reputation? Barnaby Joyce says yes, Australia will go back next year, sure, have a discussion, but he was kind of mocking the international forum, the Chairman. What does it mean for Australia?

CHALMERS: I think this Government is so disappointing so frequently, that we get a bit desensitised to the absolute madness that reigns in the Government when it comes to climate change, or energy policy, or indeed a whole range of areas. It is extraordinary in the extreme that we have a Government that signs an international agreement and within hours says it has no intention of keeping to it.

We've got a Prime Minister who signs an agreement and a Deputy Prime Minister in the Cabinet who says that it has nothing to do with him. This is symbolic of eight years of shambolic and economically damaging inaction from the Government. 22 or 23 different energy policies. After eight years in government, they give us a pamphlet not a plan. They sign up to an international agreement they have no intention of keeping to. They pretend they care about climate change on the eve and election even though they've spent much of the last eight years being obstacles to climate change action.

I mean, we get desensitised to the madness that governs them here, but I think that Barnaby Joyce interview where he's shouting at trains and shouting at the harbour - the same guy that was shouting at the clouds not that long ago - that little burst of shouty incoherence, I think sums up the last eight years, and Australians deserve much better than that. They need and deserve something meaningful on climate change, which gets their energy costs down, and so that we can grab those jobs and opportunities which have been going begging for much of the last decade.

KARVELAS: Labor has effectively back to the watered down pledge from a "phase out" of coal to a "phase down". Why?

CHALMERS: We think that meaningful progress was made in Glasgow. I know that there's been a lot of attention paid to those couple of words in the agreement, but I think Kristy McBain - not for the first time and not for the last time - was bang-on a moment ago, when she pointed out that the future of Australian coal will be more or less determined on international markets. Three quarters of our coal is exported. Something like 80% of global GDP is looking for ways to get more cleaner and cheaper energy into the system. So that will have a big impact on our industries.

But we are pragmatic, and practical, and problem solving people. Right around Australia, including in coal communities, people understand we can do something meaningful about climate change and cleaner and cheaper energy by adding new sources of renewable energy without necessarily abandoning our traditional strengths. There's more than one kind of coal, and we dig up more than just coal in this country. The mining industry more broadly has a bright future. I was in Mount Isa last week in the North West Minerals Province and in lots of cases our resources industry is looking themselves at ways of getting cleaner and cheaper energy into the system, to get their input costs down and to export more efficiently. I think the whole world is moving in a direction that Barnaby Joyce shouting at livestock, or shouting at trains and boats is not going to fix.

KARVELAS: We're not shouting now. I'm trying to use a very non-shouty voice to interrupt you. When will Labor announce its 2030 target? We had been told after the summit, we'd also been after the modelling. We've got the summit and the modelling now, when do we hear it and how ambitious will it be?

CHALMERS: We'll make our policy clear in the coming weeks, and we have said...

KARVELAS: The timeframe? Are we talking literally in the next two / three weeks, you're going to outline where you're going to take us?

CHALMERS: Well that'll be a matter for Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen and our Shadow Cabinet, and I'll make my contribution to that conversation at the Shadow Cabinet. But in the coming weeks we will have a policy which takes into account what the Government has said, particularly when it relates to their modelling but also the outcomes from Glasgow. I think it's entirely reasonable that we take the time to get that policy right, and announce it well in advance of the election, which is what we've said all along. I think, clearly, we should be more ambitious than the Government when it comes to cleaner and cheaper energy.

KARVELAS: Okay. They're only 26% to 28% reduction. The international community says that's not enough, quite obviously. So it won't be hard for you to be more ambitious than that. Do you believe though that you should be taking a very ambitious target to the election, given so many of you, particularly in Queensland, where you come from, we're kind of really stung by the last election?

CHALMERS: Obviously, I'll make my contribution in the Shadow Cabinet, Patricia.

KARVELAS: Tell me where you think the electorate is on this issue.

CHALMERS: If you give me more than half a sentence Patricia, I'd be happy to tell you!


KARVELAS: Alright, I've zipped it. Go.

CHALMERS: I think Australians - and not just in Sydney and Melbourne - but right around Australia, including in regional Queensland, expect and want their Government to be more ambitious when it comes to cleaner and cheaper energy. I think everybody seems to understand, -except for the Morrison Government - that if you get cleaner and cheaper energy into the system, you get more jobs, and more opportunities, and more investment, and that's good for the economy. So that's the position that I take. It’s position I've taken for a really long time now. And I don't think it's right to kind of caricature certain communities in Queensland, to pretend that they don't want to do something meaningful here. I think that Australians do, and state governments of different political persuasions, the biggest employers, the miners, the farmers, the international community - it seems that everybody except for the Morrison Government understands the economic opportunity here. Australians deserve a government which understands that too, and they don't have that right now.

KARVELAS: Do you think COP26 will make it harder for the fossil fuel industry?

CHALMERS: Not necessarily on its own. I think, clearly, the long-term future of the market has been set out and it would be irresponsible for anyone anywhere to pretend that thirty, or forty, or fifty years down the track, that our energy markets won't be dominated by cleaner sources of energy. I think that's self-evident. The conference talked about that, but the conference itself hasn't determined the trajectory of fossil fuels, the market has has been determining that for some time. I think right around the world people are looking for ways to get that cleaner and cheaper energy for all of the reasons that I've nominated. And I think the fossil fuel industry itself understands that as well.

So our job as governments - here in Australia and around the world - is to work out how we add those new sources of energy, how we do that without abandoning traditional strengths, and how we make sure that we care about communities that have relied on some of those industries for a long time. If you take what Annastacia Palaszczuk and Twiggy Forrest are doing in Gladstone around hydrogen, a very important new source of jobs and industry. You think about what the companies are doing in Mount Isa, very important developments.

KARVELAS: Just briefly, talking about what we were just saying there around the modelling. Is Labor going to rely on this modelling? Are have you asked for your own?

CHALMERS: Oh look, that's a matter for Chris Bowen and Anthony Albanese.

KARVELAS: Sure, but you're the Treasurer. Modelling is all about what you do.

CHALMERS: I have always said Patricia, that there should be more robust modelling done by government around the opportunities and not just the costs of doing something meaningful on climate change. That's been my position for longer than I've been a Member of Parliament. That remains my position now. We need to make sure that our positions are informed by facts and by modelling. It beggars belief that the Government hasn't gone down that path until quite recently, and even then the modelling that they handed down was as flimsy as the pamphlet that they handed down a couple of weeks earlier.

KARVELAS: All right. Quick answer on this one, because we've literally got 30 seconds. So it's an easy one. The PM says he's the underdog. Because we're clearly in a sort of faux election campaign, is he the underdog?

CHALMERS: He's a faux PM and we're in a faux election campaign, and he will say all kinds of things to try and spin the position that he's in politically. We don't underestimate him.

KARVELAS: Okay, Jim Chalmers, we're out of time. See ya.

CHALMERS: Thanks, Patricia.