Leader of The Nationals – Transcript – Interview with Danica De Giorgio, Sky News
The Hon David Littleproud MP
Leader of The Nationals
Shadow Minister for Agriculture
Monday 1 August 2022 – Interview with Danica De Giorgio – Topics: ACCC Gas Report, Voice to Parliament, Biosecurity
Danica De Giorgio:
Thank you for joining us. I want to begin with this ACCC report into gas supply issues. It makes for quite a grim reading forecasting a 10% shortfall next year. Is it now time to pull that gas trigger?
Look I think this is where you need to engage with the industry rather than use the big hand of government and I think industry has proven time and time again that if you engage with them in a constructive way, rather than tearing down what they’re trying to do, they’ll react and they’ll respond and they’ll do the right thing. And I think they’ve proven that for some time. And the reason we’re in this is that when the industry that was developed, even in my own electorate in Queensland, in the Surat basin, the Queensland Labor Government and the Rudd Government at the time opened it up just for trade and export use.
It wasn’t for any domestic, there wasn’t any domestic use put into the provisions of those tenements being provided. Now the State Government in Queensland has subsequently opened up some more tenements just for domestic use but this is about also other states stepping up with the supply.
But I’m very confident if they engage with the gas companies, the gas companies do the right thing and will be able to alleviate some of this as we were able to do when we were in Government and faced the same challenges.
Danica De Giorgio:
Has it not gone past that diplomatic engagement now? Is this now beyond that? It’s a crisis.
Well, that’s the test. The government, they seem to be hell bent on just screaming at these gas companies rather than engaging with them in a constructive way.
And that’s, I think, disappointing. And it goes to a political lens rather than a practical one of delivering cheaper energy to Australians. And I think you don’t want to demonise these gas companies. They employ a lot of Australians and they’ve done a lot of good things for us, and particularly in providing reliable source of energy.
And that’s why it’s important that we continue to be able to to move on that trajectory. Sorry, someone’s just come into the room.
Danica De Giorgio:
Oh OK. Hopefully we’re all okay. We seem to be all right. You can hear me, I think. David Littleproud, we’re going to continue unless something happens here. I want to ask you about the Government’s proposed climate bill. Now the Opposition will be having its party room meeting tomorrow to go through the detail here. But personally, do you support it?
No, we’ve never supported the big hand of government telling Australians what to do. We’ve set targets, we’ve met every one of our international commitments. Australia should proudly put its chin out and its chest out in acknowledging that we not only meet the Kyoto commitment, but we also have done that with Paris.
We’re going to smash it and we don’t need government telling us what to do. We’re not against reducing emissions, but that pathway to net zero is not a linear one and it’s one that you need to be able to have flexibility in being able to embrace the technology.
And if you can’t, you start legislating. Then you need to tell us how we’re going to get there and who’s going to pay for it, because invariably that’s what it means. And the Labor Government want to increase the safeguard mechanism which means that there’s an extra 200 companies who are going to pay more and that means you’re going to pay more. And of those 200 companies, there’s two of them which are the last two oil refiners in this country.
And if you think your petrols do you now wait till labor puts this safeguard mechanism in, which is a piece of legislation that is effectively a tax on you and that will mean you’re going to pay more.
So we believe in technology, in carbon capture storage. And if you talk about gas, there’s a real lack of investment confidence in the gas industry. Unless this government actually acknowledges that carbon capture storage is something we should invest in.
Even the International Energy Agency is saying that Australia is lagging behind in carbon capture storage for gas in particular, but also for for coal fired power stations. And look to make sure that we’ve got these types of affordable technologies rather than having to tax people we should use the smarts of the 21st century we should back ourselves to be able to give us reliable, cheap energy that reduces emissions. And we can do that with traditional industries and look to new ones which The Nationals believe passionately in such things as nuclear – small scale modular.
Danica De Giorgio:
Adam Bandt wants a gas and coal moratorium. Do you agree?
No. I mean Adam’s just trying to get a headline. He’s irrelevant. There is no way in the world that you can get rid of our coal and gas industries here.
And what Adam doesn’t understand is they pay the bills. They pay the bills. And not just to the states, but also to us at the federal level with income tax and through royalties to the states. I mean, this is a utopia, green utopia that has no practical reality in the real world.
And that’s why we’re saying we’re not against reducing emissions. You can still have those traditional industries by investing in the new technologies like carbon capture storage. And that’s where the Greens need to understand their ideology doesn’t doesn’t stack up in the practical application of it.
Danica De Giorgio:
I want to move on now to the discussion about an Indigenous voice to Parliament. How would you vote in a referendum on the matter?
Well, we haven’t got any detail to vote on and I think all Australians are starting from scratch and this policy area is littered with good intentions but little in terms of shifting the dial of closing the gap. And I think Jacinta Price said this, well, there are some real things that need to be articulated by this government around how this will work and how this will actually shift the dial on domestic violence, on education and not only in remote central Australian communities but also in communities in mine such as Charleville, St George or Cunnamulla or even Broken Hill or Wilcannia.
We need to get an understanding and appreciation that this isn’t just about good intentions, this is actually about making sure that we put something that will give confidence but build trust, not just for the Australian community, I think importantly for Indigenous communities.
So who’s going to be on it? How will this how will this function? Who will make the decisions and how will it actually interact? And I think there’s some big questions that the government need to answer, because all they’ve done is actually given more questions than answers in the speeches that have been provided so far as as eloquent as they were, as powerful as they were. We don’t want them to be another speech with no actual outcome. And that’s what we’re concerned about. And I think Australians, would not want to see this fail in the sense that we don’t shift the dial in terms of those real issues that affect Indigenous Australians out there. And we’re at risk of doing that unless the Prime Minister answers fundamental questions about how this would function and how would make sure that this doesn’t become another bureaucracy, an industry where only a few will benefit from.
Danica De Giorgio:
Just finally, I’m sure you’ve seen David Littleproud that I detect a dog at Darwin Airport. It sniffed out a McDonald’s breakfast. So we go there. The photos are on our screen in the backpack of an Aussie traveler who was flying home from Bali. I personally think that those pictures make me feel a bit sick. Now, obviously biosecurity is a serious matter in this country, but I’ve got to ask you, what’s the worst you’ve accidentally taken through? Anything.
Well, nothing. I tend to leave it all on the plane. And this goes to the calls that I’ve been making for for now, about six weeks, is that we should be banning all people coming back from Indonesia, from carrying any food product whatsoever, either on them or in their bags.
This is a serious situation and the Government has been lagging in terms of its response. It took them over four weeks to come to the solution that I proposed around foot mats. And we’ve been talking about banning people for some weeks now as well.
I think this is a wake up call that we should just simply be saying ban everybody. And I got to say that that fine that was put in place was one that we instituted, lifting it from $444 to $2,664.
And I’ve got to say, if that gentleman was a foreign citizen under the under the legislation that I proposed, he would have gone home and wouldn’t be welcome back to this country for three years. We would have canceled his visa.
So we’ve made some good inroads. We’ve done a lot but there’s still a threat. And I think there’s still more things that government can do to ease the anxiety in regional rural Australia about foot and mouth disease.