PM Morrison writing at his desk in his prime ministerial office

Interview with David Koch, Sunrise

25 Feb 2019
Prime Minister

DAVID KOCH: Prime Minister, good morning to you.


KOCH: Given this poll out today, are you disappointed with that, that you haven’t had a bounce in the polls? Because you made a big thing of the difference between your policy and also the Opposition’s in terms of Medivac and asylum seeker boats.

PRIME MINISTER: We stand by all of that because that was about the policy. We don’t want to see Australia’s border protection policy weakened and that's why we took the step we did. The polls will be the polls. West Coast was behind at half time too, David, as you’ll recall. So the hooter goes in May, at the end of the session. And so we’re focused on whether is our stronger economy plans, our stronger national security plans, and today of course, outlining how we will meet our 2030 emissions reductions target through the Climate Solutions Fund.

KOCH: So you honestly think you can win the next election?

PRIME MINISTER: Of course I do.

KOCH: Is it right Bill Shorten has written to you advising the Opposition front bench will be having meeting with senior public servants in the next couple of weeks to ensure a smooth transition of power?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I know that… yes, that have, they tried the same thing back in 2016. They are getting ahead of themselves. The hubris we’ve seen from Bill Shorten thinking he has already won an election I think has risen to new levels. We will follow all the normal protocols that are associated with elections and he is trying to actually over-assert what his entitlements are in this area. But that is because he is overconfident about the next election and is approaching it, I think, quite arrogantly.

KOCH: Australians though are seeing all of these colleagues of yours resigning, Julie Bishop the latest one. A lot of women resigning from the Party. A lot of Australians are thinking wow, have they have seen the writing on the wall? Are they are getting out early and getting new jobs before the inevitable?

PRIME MINISTER: No and Julie Bishop said exactly the opposite, as did Kelly O'Dwyer. And yesterday, we preselected Dr Katie Allen. She is a paediatrician who is also a medical research scientist working on children's health. Her victory yesterday, a very substantial one in the seat of Higgins, I think demonstrates the vote of confidence that people of real talent, women of real talent, are putting in the Liberal Party. And so they are joining our team, just as many others have been to take up these positions and in fact the retirements are no different than what happens at most elections, David. They’re consistent with that and Labor have had many women retire as well.

KOCH: But you are, you have got to admit, you are pretty short on women in your ranks. Are you looking at bringing in quotas? How are you going to rectify that, because it is not a great look.

PRIME MINISTER: Well since I became Prime Minister, we’ve has I think now 19 women selected in key roles. Whether it’s Bridget Archer down there in the seat of Bass or Jess Whelan in the seat of Lyons. We have got women coming in to the Senate replacing men who have gone out of the Senate, so we’ve seen quite a number come in over these last few months. But it is certainly an issue the Party will need to address in the future, but I’m pleased at the number of women who have stepped forward in the last six months to take on these roles, and they are high-quality and they are great candidates and they are there absolutely on merit.

KOCH: OK. Let’s talk about climate change. You're unveiling your plan to tackle climate change today, including allocating $2 billion over ten years for practical solutions to reducing emissions and making sure we meet our Paris Agreement target in 2030. You can understand people get a bit confused about the Coalition’s climate change policy. Are you a climate change believer?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes. Three things. First of all, we owe it to future generations to address this issue, and we have been addressing this issue. Our record, when we came into government, we had to make up for a 700 million tonne deficit on carbon emissions when we came to government. The policies we have put in place to meet our 2020 targets means we will now beat that by 400 million tonnes. The policies we have put in place are working, they are hitting our targets. There are very few countries in the world that can say that they will not only meet our 2020 targets but exceed them.

KOCH: So why are you spending an extra $2 billion if you are reaching the target comfortably? Are you going to set new lower targets?

PRIME MINISTER: No, the 2020 targets are the one we're going to meet by over 400 million tonnes. The 2030 targets will require this additional investment in the very programs that have been…

KOCH: So you are a bit behind on that?

PRIME MINISTER: No, no, we always knew that there would be more that needed to be done and I have said that on several occasions and I said we’d be announcing that before the election. And today, I’m making those plans clear. These are responsible targets, David. I believe that you can meet your emissions reduction targets, address climate change and not put a sledgehammer through your economy. That is why our targets are balanced. They will reduce per capita emissions by more than 50 per cent by 2030 and our emissions intensity by two thirds. Now, that is one of the best targets in the G20. Countries like Canada won't meet that. Countries like New Zealand will not meet that same level of result and they will have to buy carbon credits from overseas. We are dealing with it on our side of the line, making sure we are taking the action that is needed.

KOCH: So this Climate Solutions Fund is the renamed the Emissions Reduction Fund?

PRIME MINISTER: No it’s more than that, because there is the work being done on Emissions Reduction Fund, there is the investment that will be going into Snowy Hydro 2.0 and also the Battery of the Nation project, another pumped hydro very significant project in Tasmania. It also deals with electric car strategy and on top of that, continuing with the energy efficiency measures whether it's in households or businesses. So it’s a comprehensive package.

KOCH: It sounds like you like renewables and renewable energy has a real place in this?

PRIME MINISTER: Well of course it does. So does reliable energy. I mean, I don’t… as my predecessor used to say, these things don't have moral qualities, they just produce energy that people need to use, so I don't get hung up on personal affections for one or the other.

KOCH: Your colleagues slammed South Australia for their batteries and renewable energies.

PRIME MINISTER: I just want stuff that works, David. That’s what I want to do. My plan will do that, it’ll meet our targets and it won’t put a sledge hammer through our economy. Labor's emissions reduction target of 45 per cent will cost everybody's wage $9,000 a year. $9,000 a year. That's a carbon tax on steroids.

KOCH: OK, Prime Minister, thank you for talking to us this morning. Appreciate it.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks David, good to be with you.