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Meet The Press -

View in ParlView


9 August, 2009



'MEET THE PRESS' PRESENTER PAUL BONGIORNO: Good morning and welcome to 'Meet the Press'. It was
former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser who famously said life wasn't meant to be easy. His successor
as Liberal leader, Malcolm Turnbull, wouldn't quibble with that. And there's more pain to come. A
shattered Malcolm Turnbull had no apologies after his accusations of corruption and lying against
the Prime Minister and Treasurer were rejected by the Auditor-General, but he did have one regret.

OPPOSITION LEADER MALCOLM TURNBULL (Tuesday): The idea that a senior public servant would forge a
communication like this and then show it to the Opposition is extraordinary. With the benefit of
hindsight...of course, you know, regrets ever having met Mr Grech.

PRIME MINISTER KEVIN RUDD: (Wednesday) In Mr Turnbull's case, he doesn't have the judgement, the
integrity of the character to continue to occupy the position of Leader of the Opposition.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Mr Turnbull will continue to walk the leadership tightrope as a divided Coalition
confronts the critical climate change vote in the Senate. The Nationals Senate leader, Barnaby
Joyce, is a guest. And later - brinkmanship from the Greens. Deputy Leader Senator Christine Milne
joins us. But first, what's making news in the nation's papers, this Sunday, August 9. The 'Sunday
Age' leads with "Death of a terrorist". Police believe they have shot and killed South-East Asian
terror mastermind Noordin Top. Security forces have also foiled a planned car bomb attack against
the country's president. The 'Sun Herald' cites a federal report that is predicting greenhouse gas
levels are set to explode by 2020 if its Emissions Trading Scheme is rejected by the Senate.
Malcolm Turnbull's malaise is set to worsen according to the 'Sunday Telegraph' - "Party crashers
lining up to oust Turnbull on Tuesday" the headline. The paper says the Liberal leader will face a
test of his position in Tuesday's party room over his support for an Emissions Trading Scheme. In
Brisbane, another Galaxy poll in the 'Sunday Mail' finds female voters are deserting Premier Anna
Bligh. Ms Bligh went into the State election with 51% support among women. That has now plunged to
36% according to the poll. It's good morning and welcome back to the program, Senator Barnaby


PAUL BONGIORNO: How are you?


PAUL BONGIORNO: Well, let's have a look at the political landscape after the winter recess.


PAUL BONGIORNO: How do you think the Coalition can win the next election? Can it win the next

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, it's certainly possible, Paul, and it has to go down to fundamentals of basic
management. The thing that we have to prosecute is the argument of debt. Australians have to
realise that our debt is getting to a level where soon we won't be able to even meet the interest
repayments on our debt. We also have underwritten the sub-prefecture debt. We're heading to about
$0.5 trillion in debt in the long term, which we just can't pay back, Paul, and that should be
front and foremost and the reason we are heading to that position is the management of the Labor
Party. This is an issue that is not a flash in the pan. This is a sustainable issue and we have to
mount a sustainable campaign to take Labor on on that.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Debt is the issue. Isn't Malcolm Turnbull also the issue?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, you know, Malcolm Turnbull has obviously had a couple of bad innings, you
know, and the people around him will be looking at his form but if he comes out and plays a good
innings in the next couple of weeks, the issues of Oz-gate will pale into the past. What is the big
issue of the day quickly falls away. Then the underlying issues come back into the frame and the
underlying issues are our economic position, our employment position, interest rate position and
most importantly, if we don't get our debt under control, we lose the capacity to fund basic
services - doctors and nurses in hospitals, ambulance drivers and ambulances. And when we're out of
dough, Paul, those services just won't be there and the Australian people will revolt when that

PAUL BONGIORNO: Malcolm Turnbull's judgment has been called into question. Now, there are some
Liberals who fear - or who believe, rather, that Mr Turnbull's decision to back the rise in the
alcopops tax was a mistake. Now, that vote comes into the Senate this week. Do you believe it was a
mistake to - for the Opposition to change its mind? And will you be voting for the rise in the
alcopops tax?

BARNABY JOYCE: I don't think we should be voting for the rise in the alcopops tax. It's just a tax

PAUL BONGIORNO: So you don't agree with Mr Turnbull's judgment on that?

BARNABY JOYCE: I just think that alcopops tax is an issue of the Labor Party grabbing more money.
This is the same with the ETS. The ETS is just another mechanism - just a new tax. The Labor Party
is great at these moralising new taxes. The thing about alcopops, Paul - the Labor Party haven't
really mounted the case that it's actually reducing the consumption of alcopops. I think you'll
find that the Australian Bureau of Statistics has put out a report saying the consumption of
alcopops has gone up.

PAUL BONGIORNO: In light of that, does Malcolm Turnbull have your full confidence as Opposition
leader and will you be supporting the rise in the tax?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, you know, Malcolm Turnbull is a good leader. He's got great economic
credentials. What Malcolm Turnbull's clearly said is it's not so much we support the alcopops as,
you know, it's not worth dying in a ditch over. That is Malcolm's position - I don't think he's
philosophically sworn to the belief that alcopops tax is going to be a great idea.

PAUL BONGIORNO: How are you going to vote?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, you know, we'll see. Let's have a look. Let the vote come into the chamber and
I'll make my mind up then.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Righto. The Government says there's more than enough evidence to suggest the
Opposition abused the process of the Senate when what appeared to be a genuine cross-examination of
Godwin Grech was, in fact, orchestrated by him. What Malcolm Turnbull ensured is that this Senate
inquiry was a pantomime. I think Australians are entitled to conclude that that's pretty shabby.
Well, Senator Joyce, will you and the Nationals support a reference to the Privileges Committee to
inquire into that cross-examination of Godwin Grech?

BARNABY JOYCE: I think that we should maintain the authenticity of the Senate. I think that's
terribly important. I think that at times there are breaches of that and there are other issues. As
you would know, there's the time where we saw Senator Conroy sending Senator Cameron emails for
Senator Cameron to ask Senator Conroy questions. That's actually on film. A proper based inquiry
would be worth supporting. A proper based inquiry is one that comes to a result and comes up with a
position where we can improve the way we do things in the Senate. We must maintain the public's
confidence in the Senate process. But it is very rich for the Labor Party to say that they're above
this. They're on film. We've seen them bodging the process up, especially with Senator Conroy
sending Senator Cameron emails in the middle of it. The Godwin Grech thing raises concerns. Let's
deal with them.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Time for a break. When we return with the panel - can the Coalition ever agree on
an Emissions Trading Scheme? And Kevin Rudd didn't escape scot-free during the week. An American
finance channel interrupted a stock report to brand him a serial killer. The papers did not catch
one thing at all.

CNBC NEWSREADER ERIN BURNETT: (Wednesday) There is a serial killer in Australia and we are going to
put a picture up to see who it is. That would be the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd. He
has launched air strikes - air strikes - against camels in the outback.

CNBC FINANCIAL REPORTER JIM CRAMER: (Wednesday) That's like genocide. It's camelcide!

PAUL BONGIORNO: You're on 'Meet the Press' with the Nationals' Barnaby Joyce. And welcome to our
panel, Michelle Grattan from the 'Age'. Good morning, Michelle.


PAUL BONGIORNO: And John Stanley from Radio 2UE. Good morning, John.


PAUL BONGIORNO: Climate change dominated the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Cairns - not
surprising as rising sea levels are threatening the very existence of several micro nations. The
Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, threw out this challenge to Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition
as the ETS legislation comes to the crucial vote in the Senate.

MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER PENNY WONG: (Thursday) In seven days, this nation, for the
first time, has the opportunity to pass a law that will reduce our contribution to climate change.
And if you needed an example of why, then you only have to come here and speak to our Pacific
Island neighbours or go to the Murray-Darling Basin.

JOHN STANLEY: Senator Joyce, your position? Are you still implacably opposed to an ETS in any form?

BARNABY JOYCE: Absolutely, John. This ETS - it's the employment termination scheme. The extra tax
system. Whichever way you want to call it, it's a political fascinator - a bit of fishnet with a
few feathers you can stick on your head - but it's never going to keep the sunlight out.

JOHN STANLEY: You'll never vote for it?

BARNABY JOYCE: Why impose a new tax on Australian people that won't change anything? Ask yourself,
ask Minister Wong, will this scheme change the temperature of the globe? Quite obviously, it will
not. Will it put people out of work? Yes, it will. What other questions do you need to ask?

MICHELLE GRATTAN: Senator, do you think the Opposition then was just wasting its time commissioning
further modelling which is going to be released early this week?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, certainly we can have more investigation into it, Michelle.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: Why bother? Well, there is no point now that Minister Wong has said quite
categorically that she will not accept any amendments.

BARNABY JOYCE: Now, Michelle, Penny has said that. She's either a liar or she's telling the truth.
Whatever I say about Penny, she is a lady of her honour. She will stick to her word. There will be
no amendments. So we'll either vote for this ETS - only this ETS. It will bring about a 20%
reduction in economies, put coal miners out of work. We're looking at agriculture having $75 per
beast per year - that's the end of our beef industry, of our sheep industry. I don't think working
mothers will pay over $100 for a roast as they put it in the shopping trolley. I don't think people
will be happy when they realise it hasn't changed the temperature of the globe. It's just a piece
of rubbish. And now we've got these amendments where they'll say, instead of a political
fascinator, how about we put a bowl of fruit on your head and that will keep the sun out.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Senator Joyce, an ETS was Coalition policy at the election. Tony Abbott on 'Meet
the Press' last week, though a sceptic too, believes Malcolm Turnbull should be backed in
delivering that policy. Here's what he said.

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES TONY ABBOTT: (Sunday) I suspect that we can do a lot better than an
ETS but our position is to try to make the Government's bad ETS better and Malcolm needs - and as
far as I'm concerned will always have - the flexibility to respond appropriately.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: Basically what Malcolm Turnbull is saying and Tony Abbott is saying is that an
ETS is not - it's not worth risking a double dissolution in the long run by continuing to oppose
this legislation. Shouldn't you, too, be taking that sort of pragmatic attitude when it's quite
clear that the Opposition early next year is going to be in no state to fight an election?

BARNABY JOYCE: The pragmatic attitude that completely puts aside all your philosophical belief and
why you're in this job, Michelle, is something I won't countenance. The ETS is an economic policy
of amputation. They're going to amputate your legs even though there's nothing wrong with them. The
alternative policy is, instead of amputating the legs, let's amputate a couple of fingers. It might
be a better outcome but it's not what we're looking for. We need to put aside this ETS because it's
just a tax grab. $11 million in the first year. $12 million in the second year. Bureaucrats'
bonanza as we get a skyscraper full of traders. They'll love the ETS. It will be a game for them.
But somebody, somewhere in our economy has to pay for it. We've got to stop it. I'm not going to
compromise our philosophical beliefs for pragmatism.

JOHN STANLEY: You've talked about your philosophical beliefs. What do you believe Malcolm
Turnbull's philosophical belief is on this? Do you think he believes in an ETS?

BARNABY JOYCE: I think he does. I think his belief is genuine. That's a wonderful thing about
democracy. He's entitled to that belief and holds that belief, and others in the Nationals and
others apart from the Nationals have a serious problem because this is not going to change the
temperature of the globe. It will be a new tax. It will be paid by every person pushing a shopping
trolley and every person who wants security in their job. I'm not going to be putting people out
into the streets in the Hunter Valley, Illawarra, Central Queensland over a gesture so people can
change the locks on the houses because it's been repossessed because they don't have a job and we
haven't changed anything.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: Senator, you are now by far the highest-profile voice in the National Party. When
are you going to actually make that move to the lower house and make a bid for leadership, which
you obviously want to do?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, Michelle, I always try to be honest. I have an interest when the time arises
and if you don't say that, then people know that you're not for real. So are Joe Hockey and Julie

JOHN STANLEY: Time is passing. Are you going to do it at the election? You've got to talk to your
party about that.

BARNABY JOYCE: I truly believe that one of the most competent people we've got there is Warren

JOHN STANLEY: We never hear from him.

BARNABY JOYCE: Yeah, but he's the safest set of hands. By gosh, he's the safest set of hands we've
got round there at the moment.

JOHN STANLEY: Safer than you?

BARNABY JOYCE: I think he has got more experience than me, John. Let's be honest. He's extremely
competent -

MICHELLE GRATTAN: Are you worried about yourself?

BARNABY JOYCE: Am I worried about myself?

MICHELLE GRATTAN: As potential leader?

BARNABY JOYCE: We've got different styles, but I back Warren in. But when the time comes, if
there's a vote, I'll be putting my hand up. What I'm saying is, I think, the bleeding obvious and
anybody will tell you the same. But there'll be other people putting up their hand as well and I
don't for one minute think it's a free rein. I'm just trying to be fair dinkum and saying when the
opportunity arises I'll have a crack at it.

JOHN STANLEY: You attract most of the attention, though, in your side of politics in the National
Party. Wilson Tuckey was described by Joe Hockey as the uncle who comes to the dinner table and
creates havoc. How would you describe yourself? Which member of the family are you?

BARNABY JOYCE: Mate, I am as you take me, and you take me any way you want.

JOHN STANLEY: Some might say the black sheep of the family?

BARNABY JOYCE: Some might call me things worse than that as well, John. I don't, to be honest - I
see Wilson Tuckey as a person - he might be at times a little eccentric but he's got a brain in his
head. Don't take him as a joke. He's got some clear ideas. He's got a robust process. But I don't
like this idea of, you know, bagging Wilson, and I won't be part of it.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Senator Joyce, there is - there are reports that the Nationals are going to have
their Federal Council shortly, that there will be a push for separate issues - separate policies
from the Liberals. Where does that leave you as a member of the Liberal Party? The LNP after all is
the Liberal Party in Queensland.

BARNABY JOYCE: In Canberra, as you know, Paul, there are only two parties that sit. You're either
sitting with the Liberal Party or the National Party. Now that, I think, is a good, transparent
way. It's been the most successful political organisation in post-war Australia. I sit with the
National Party and I push the National Party agenda. In a Labor Party, let's be honest, Paul,
they've got the left faction, the right faction, the Mark Arbib faction. I don't know where Senator
Kim Carr...

PAUL BONGIORNO: Just quickly - can the LNP survive beyond the next election as a federal body, as a
federal party?

BARNABY JOYCE: It's extremely successful as a State body up here, Paul and it's growing in its
success and I truly believe, for want of a better word, that it's got a single culture at a State
level. Now the reality at the federal level is you're either National Party or Liberal Party. I
philosophically belong in the National Party and I sit there and try to do the best job I can.
That's also good for Australia because it's two avenues of trying to get an issue out there, ETS
being a classic one.

PAUL BONGIORNO: There's a lot to be worked out there institutionally. Anyway, thank you very much
for being with us today, Barnaby Joyce.

BARNABY JOYCE: Always a pleasure, Paul. Michelle, John, see you later.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Coming up - will the Greens really vote down the Rudd Carbon Pollution Reduction
Scheme? Senator Christine Milne joins us. And syndicated cartoonist Zanetti has an explosive view
of the Grech imbroglio. Godwin Grech wears the device but it's Malcolm Turnbull who blows up.
"Australian suicide bombers just weren't up to the world's best practice."

PAUL BONGIORNO: You're on 'Meet the Press'. The Greens aren't happy Kevin with the climate change
legislation. Bob Brown has made a commercial to press the point.

GREEN PARTY LEADER BOB BROWN: He wants you to believe that the only choice is between his bill and
no bill at all. That's bunkum. I'm asking Australians to stand with the Greens right now. Log on to
our website and tell Kevin Rudd to do the job Australians elected him to do.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Let's welcome back to the program Greens Deputy Leader Senator Christine Milne.
Good morning, Senator Milne.


PAUL BONGIORNO: Well, I guess we need to cut to the chase pretty quickly. Are the Greens playing
themselves out of the game here? Is it their way or no way as well? Have we got an impasse here?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well, this is not an issue that ought to be about politics. This is about the
science of climate change. The global community is coming together at the end of this year to try
and find a solution to a global emergency. This is not the time for the Government to be locking in
failure. The Greens are working with global people around the world to try and get the science
right. And that's why this is an issue of the targets for us. Because we have to avoid catastrophic
climate change and the Rudd Government scheme locks in failure.

PAUL BONGIORNO: So there's no room for compromise?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well, the compromise that the Greens offered the Government was to go with a range
of 25% to 40%, which is the Bali road map. We said, "Look, our view is Australia should be going to
40% cuts in 2020, but we are prepared to compromise with the Government and put 25% on the table
unconditionally in Australia and 40% in Copenhagen as part of a global deal." That is consistent
with what the global community wants, what the science wants and the Government has completely
rejected the Greens' offer of goodwill to actually address this issue seriously.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: But Senator, aren't you, in fact, selling out your own supporters? Polling has
shown that Greens supporters would rather have something done than nothing at all. They want some
action and yet you're saying it's all or nothing essentially.

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well, no. In fact, our polling shows that 75% of Australians want the Senate to
insist on amendments to toughen up this legislation, particularly as it pertains to the relief to
the polluters, the $16 billion going to the polluters. But the Greens have said all along that this
- that addressing climate change requires a suite of measures. It's not just an Emissions Trading
Scheme. It's also protecting Australia's forests and ending land clearance. It's about bringing in
energy efficiency, the gross feed-in tariff. There are so many ways to address climate change. You
need all of them. And the Government is the one saying it's all or nothing and in fact they're the
people who are refusing to do these other measures like the forests and the gross feed-in tariff.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: We're talking about the ETS at the moment. If the intransigence of the Senate
eventually brings on a double dissolution, the Government wins with therefore a mandate for its
scheme, would you try and block it or would you back it?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well, I think the Australian community, if the Government chose to go to an
election on climate change, I think the Australian community would surprise the Government by
electing more Greens to have a stronger position on climate change. And every day, the news gets
worse in terms of the science. Just yesterday, major collapses of glaciers in South America, for
example. This week we've got a tour of the country of one of the Sherpas talking about the impacts
on fresh water from glacial retreat in the Himalayas. What we've got is a world going into
ecological collapse. And the community knows it.

JOHN STANLEY: But the question was, if the Government goes to a double dissolution and wins, would
you then allow the ETS through? If it was the basis of a double dissolution election. Because
there's no way that you'd have any seats in the lower house, so a government that was re-elected
with a mandate - would you allow the ETS through?

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well, I'd dispute your point about lower house seats because I think there's a
high probability we might get Sydney, Melbourne or Fremantle...

JOHN STANLEY: You accept my point, though. Let's take the point - the Government's re-elected,
double dissolution, has a mandate for the ETS. Would you allow it through the Senate if that was
what the people had said in an election?

CHRISTINE MILNE: It depends entirely on what the double dissolution was fought on.

JOHN STANLEY: Let's say the ETS.

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well, we would look at it after an election but I really think that the Government
would be forced back to the table on stronger targets because an election will be post Copenhagen
and Copenhagen will make it clear that developing countries will not accept weak targets like that
put on the table for Australia. So we will have the world response after Copenhagen going into a
March election if that's what the Government chose to do.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Senator Milne...

CHRISTINE MILNE: Far better for the Government now to strengthen their targets.

PAUL BONGIORNO: How do you answer what the sceptics are saying and indeed Barnaby Joyce hinted at
it today that even if Australia shut down its electricity generation, even if we got to zero
emissions, we'd hardly be affecting the global emissions. In fact, 0.2% would be our contribution

CHRISTINE MILNE: Well, Australia accepted the Kyoto Protocol bargain, which is developed countries
are historically responsible for the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and we must go
first. There is a moral imperative on climate change and in addition to that, it's not just
Australia's emissions here. All of that coal we send into global markets is leading to further
greenhouse gas pollution around the world. Unfortunately, people are concentrating too much on,
"What about the coal industry?", including the Government with its $4 billion of compensation to
the big generators, instead of on the transformational opportunities and the jobs and the whole new
sophisticated manufacturing we could get if we go with the new green economy. That's the
excitement. No-one talks about that because they don't want to hear it.

MICHELLE GRATTAN: Senator, one of the issues for this coming fortnight is going to be trying to
separate the renewable energy target legislation from the ETS legislation. The Government has
linked them for tactical reasons. Will you be voting with the Liberals if they move to separate

CHRISTINE MILNE: Michelle, we voted - we were prepared to vote for the renewable energy target last
time. We want to see that in as soon as possible. We will do whatever it takes to get the renewable
energy target through the Senate. The Government was absolutely cynical in linking the two and has
cost thousands of jobs in renewable energy because of their failure to do so. So we will work with
the whole Senate to make sure by the end of this sitting we have a renewable energy target and if
we had our way it would be higher. We'd like to see it to be 30% plus a gross feed-in tariff on top
of it.

PAUL BONGIORNO: Thank you very much for joining us today, Greens Deputy Leader Senator Christine


PAUL BONGIORNO: And thanks to our panel, Michelle Grattan and John Stanley. A transcript of this
program will be on our website and, until next week, goodbye.