PM Morrison writing at his desk in his prime ministerial office

Interview with Laura Jayes and Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

Media release
25 Feb 2019
Prime Minister
E&OE

LAURA JAYES: Prime Minister Good morning, if we are to meet our Paris targets in a canter as you have repeatedly promised why do we need to spend another $3.5 billion dollars in tax payer funds?

PRIME MINISTER:  Well I always said there would be additional initiatives and there are in fact the Emissions Reduction Fund and the flagging of additional investment was set by Tony Abbott back in 2015 so this is a continuation of those programs and that is why I have always been so confident and why am I so confident because the 2020 targets we will exceed by over 400 million tonnes and when we came to Government we inherited a deficit of more than 700 million tonnes and we turned that around through these programs we will be one of the few countries in the world that will have exceeded our targets in 2020 by that type of amount well beyond many of the others who are often claimed and out to 2030 we have the plan to get us to hit those targets in a canter as well so our record speaks for itself we meet the targets that have been set for us that we have set ourselves and we will meet them in the future and they are sensible.

I mean a 45 per cent emissions reduction target as we learnt last week is going to cost everyone’s wages $9,000 a year, now that is a carbon tax on steroids. Remember that was $500 per year this is $9,000 per year and the reason for that is we have to hit 328 million tonnes to get to our 2030 target. Labor will require more than 3 times that amount shutting down industries around the country which will be terrible for our economy. Sensible, balanced that’s our approach with a track record of achieving.

KIERAN GILBERT: Prime Minister do you think that the wild weather that we have seen over recent months over Summer has made you know this an even more potent issue in the minds of people in the electorate. Is that your sense of the politics of this issue?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I mean I think that is absolutely a perception that is there and as I said at the Press Club a few weeks ago obviously these things play into this issue you know the extent of that currently I think that is a matter that is often debated but let’s understand where we are right now we are meeting and exceeding our carbon emission reduction targets that we set for ourselves right now.

So in terms for our action on climate change we are bettering what we said we would achieve and that means right now when these events are occurring we are well ahead of what people thought would be able to achieve and certainly what the Labor Party left us with which was a 700 million tonne deficit to meet our 2020 targets which we will now as I have said before smash more than 400 million tonnes.

JAYES: Well this climate solutions fund as you are calling it this morning, will it be used to underwrite new coal projects of which the government, your Government with Angus Taylor has identified ten?

PRIME MINISTER: That’s not what the Emissions Reduction Fund does, no.

JAYES: So there won’t be any funding from this to go to underwriting of new coal, that money will be found elsewhere and I imagine you will require legislation?

PRIME MINISTER: That is a separate process which continues to be underway which is agnostic about what the source of reliable energy is and that is a separate process. What I am talking about today is the Emissions Reduction Fund which is a $2 billion over the next ten years. This is also important, we are meeting our targets without having to go and purchase foreign carbon credits. Now in New Zealand I met with Jacinda Ardern last Friday and she told me that they are going to have to do that in New Zealand now in Australia we are not doing that. We are meeting our Emissions Reductions Targets, and lets remind ourselves is a reduction in per capita emissions by over 50 percent by 2030 and a reduction in the intensity of our emissions by two thirds now that stands up as credible anywhere in the world today and so they are credible targets but they are also sensible targets. Labor’s targets are reckless, I can’t describe it any other way and they will hit tax payers and they will hit industries and they will hit jobs and they will hit wages.

GILBERT: Well that is the debate you will obviously continue over coming months but did you concede this morning that $2 billion it’s a big figure this is a carbon price isn’t it of some sort on the economy and on tax payers.

PRIME MINISTER:  No, no, no this is an investment in programs … it’s in the Budget this is the point it’s in our Budget.

GILBERT: It’s a carbon price.

PRIME MINISTER: It’s fully funded, no it’s not I think with great respect Keiran it shows a misunderstanding of the issues what this is investing in practices whether it’s in farms, in businesses or in other places to adopt energy efficient and improving technologies and practices which result in a reduction in carbon emissions but they also result in an improvement in productivity.

GILBERT: But it’s not free that’s the point.

PRIME MINISTER: So everybody wins, everybody wins from this project it’s not a price it is an investment.

JAYES: Can I ask you about the latest Newspoll 47 out of 53 you are still six points behind after the last fortnight in Parliament are you disappointed that there hasn’t been some kind of improvement there?

PRIME MINISTER: I just focus on the plan we have, the plans that we have outlaid on the economy, our national security plans, the plans I’m announcing today to meet our climate change targets and that’s what we are putting to the Australian people. Now the only reference I would make to those numbers today clearly what we are saying on the economy and the national security is resonating when it comes to my plans and I welcome that.

JAYES: Where is the evidence of that Prime Minister with these numbers?

PRIME MINISTER: You must have missed the bit that showed the difference between Bill Shorten and I when it comes to the economy and national security, we are resonating when it comes to our economic message and our national security message. The election is in May, West Coast were behind at half time and there is still a long way to go.

GILBERT: Do you feel that you have misread the mood though somewhat on asylum seekers, in terms of medical evacuations as you say in terms of the polling you are up on national security you are up on border protection that’s fine but in terms of the primary vote it hasn’t budged. Are people more sympathetic than you might have expected?

PRIME MINISTER: Honestly guys, seriously you are focussing on the wrong things. What border protection is about is border protection it’s about ensuring you have an integrity of border protection that’s why we do what we do that’s why we have always done what we have done.

It’s not about these numbers you are talking about if you focus on those numbers then you do what Bill Shorten does every day and changes his position on Christmas Island I mean what is his position today it was different yesterday to what it was two days before that. He’s chasing the polls around what I am doing is laying out plans for our economy, national security, climate change and border protection and people will make their own judgement but what people know about me is when I make decisions, when I put plans in place I achieve them whether it is on border protection, the economy and indeed our Government has from the first time when we put the Emissions Reduction Fund in place, I mean that of itself has resulted in almost 200 million tonnes of carbon abatement over the course of our Government. Now these are real results so we are focussed on those results the policy results because that’s what impacts on the outcomes for every Australian.

JAYES: A few final things Prime Minister, why have you cancelled the dawn services at Villers-Bretonneux is there any chance of overturning that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well that was a matter that I understand was decided by the Department and that has been brought to my attention and I will be discussing that with the Minister.

GILBERT: All right and so hopefully some change or potential change on that front and finally onto China and the coal issues do you think it is believable what they have said in relation to environmental checks for our coal given the standard of our exported coal is better than most of the rest of the world and yet exports from Indonesia, Russia are still going in to that port of Dalian in China is their reason believable?

PRIME MINISTER: Well this has happened before this is not the first time this has happened we have worked through these issues before these are local decisions that are made in these ports I should stress and they don’t represent a very large proportion of coal exports through that port into China in terms of our broader export of coal into China so we will just work through these issues as we have previously it’s not new and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in China has made it very clear that these two things are not related and we take that at their word but I do know this I don’t think a global market for coal being impacted negatively is a wonderful thing, the Labor Party does.

Everyone in Townsville should know everyone whose job depends on our biggest single minerals export, 55,000 of them should know that the Labor Party thinks that the market that supports your job not doing well is wonderful, that is an absolute disgrace. We believe in creating jobs and having sustainable industries we also believe in our traditional industries whether its forestries, whether is fisheries, whether it’s mining whether its agriculture. Yesterday I was in Gippsland talking to farmers in Gippsland who have been affected by the drought. As you know I have been up in Cloncurry in Julia Creek talking to those who have been affected by the floods we support our agriculture and primary industries and I was also in Tasmania the week before putting in place our forestry hub plan which is very important for jobs in north west Tasmania.

GILBERT: Prime Minister we appreciate your time thanks for that.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks a lot Kieran, see you guys.