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Transcript of doorstop interview: Sydney: 3 September 2015: Green Army project in Macarthur; Emissions Reduction Fund; post-2020 targets; Labor's plan to bring back the carbon tax; Daesh death cult

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The Hon. Greg Hunt MP Minister for the Environment


3 September 2015



Topics: Green Army project in Macarthur, Emissions Reduction Fund, post-2020 targets, Labor’s plan to bring back the carbon tax, Daesh death cult


I’m delighted to be here at the Australian Botanic Gardens at Mount Annan with Russell Matheson.

This is the site where two Green Army teams have now worked and graduated. Young people in the field removing invasive species - African olive, moss vine - really tremendous work that Australians should be proud of.

We now have hundreds of teams in the field from the Green Army. We're ahead of schedule, we're producing better results than we've hoped, it's great for the environment.

Most importantly, many young people who had not worked before, who had mental health or anxiety issues, are being drawn into the workforce either for the first time in some years, or in some cases, for the first time ever.

So we're giving young people the opportunity, work skills, teamwork, the knowledge and the credentials. We're finding that employers are valuing the Green Army, communities are endorsing it.

And people such as Russell are saying that the feedback from the ground is that we're improving the local environment and we're giving young people an opportunity. I might invite Russell just to speak on the project.

RUSSELL MATHESON: Thanks Greg. It's great to see Greg out here in the Macarthur region but one of the pleasing things for me is that the local member is seeing these young people grow and develop under this Green Army project.

It’s given them skills they didn’t previously have. It’s given them extra employment opportunities into the future. It’s just wonderful to see them grow and develop under the programme.

And you see how enthusiastic they are. They're in a team environment, they grow and develop into that team. Their skills develop and they get more confident.

And employers in Macarthur are saying, hang on, we want to grab these young kids that have been part of a Green Army because they've been skilled up - yeah, in environment, in environmental conservation - but we want them as part of our organisation. And that's fantastic.

To the Minister, it's a fantastic programme. I'm just out here supporting it because, you know, we need to support our young people and give them opportunities to be able to further their careers.

GREG HUNT: The last thing I might add is the Australian PlantBank is a resource for Australia but it's actually a global facility. This really is one of the great global plant banks, it's a biological ark. It is literally a biological ark.

It contains some of the rarest species in the Australian biota. It cultivates, protects, helps germinate, helps provide ways for restoring our natural environment. And Australians should feel free to come and visit here.

JOURNALIST: Minister, first question I just have for you. So what's the overall impact you reckon this team's going to have on the Coalition’s environmental emission reduction scheme targets?

GREG HUNT: So the Green Army is a significant part of our overall environmental program. We're reducing emissions by 900 million tonnes between 2020 and 2030. The Green Army will play a part in that.

Obviously the largest and most significant part is the Emissions Reduction Fund and that's accompanied by the safeguard mechanism.

The Emissions Reduction Fund produced 47 million tonnes of emissions reductions - or four times the result of Labor's entire carbon tax experiment - in just the first auction, at a fraction of the price.

JOURNALIST: Okay, the Government model for post-2030 reductions targets have now been released. Do you reckon Labor should commit to their own target if they think they can get elected in the next election?

GREG HUNT: Well Labor should say what their target is. And they went to their Conference and talked about a target which would have a $633 billion impact - on Labor's modelling, on Labor's time in Government for Labor's policy - done by the Treasury.

So the Treasury of Australia worked the modelling and it turns out that Labor’s apparent policy is a $633 billion dollar hit. You can reduce emissions without a massive electricity tax.

So the real story here is that Bill Shorten is bad news for Australia. He's going to jack up electricity prices, he wants to trash the Free Trade Agreement with China, and now we see that he wants to trash the Constitution next week.

Bill Shorten is bad news for Australia.

JOURNALIST: Just going over quickly to comments that Tony Abbott made last night on IS and Daesh. Do you think as well that IS or Daesh is actually worse than the Nazis?

GREG HUNT: This is a group of people that are utterly reprehensible and engaged in war crimes, human rights atrocities. I think that we have to take the strongest stand against those that are deliberately

murdering and executing, those that are torturing, those that are engaged in human rights atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the 21st century. It's almost inconceivable that such atrocious crimes against humanity are continuing.

JOURNALIST: We know that there have been requests for Australia to get involved in bombings directly against ISIS and Syria and those areas. Does that mean that the Liberal Government is leaning towards actually doing that or not?

GREG HUNT: Look I'll obviously leave that for the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister.

JOURNALIST: And also there was the other comment that the PM made that the Nazis actually tried to hide their evil. Do you agree with that comment as well or…

GREG HUNT: Look I haven't heard the comments directly so I won't add anything other than the fact that what we see is a level of crimes against humanity in the 21st century which is inconceivable.

We cannot turn away, we cannot turn our back, we cannot ignore that innocent men and women are being, and in particular children, are losing their lives or having their lives crushed in the most extreme, inexplicable and indefensible of circumstances.

We have a deep human duty as well as a deep national security task to make sure that all that can be done to stop ISIS - or Daesh - is done.

JOURNALIST: Okay. Could you elaborate a little bit more on what the Government's planning or not really?

GREG HUNT: No, look I will respectfully leave that for the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister.

Thank you.