Television Interview – Sky News Newsday 27 March

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister

TOM CONNELL, HOST: We’ve got the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, first of all, Patrick Gorman, and of course, former Liberal MP Jason Falinski, to talk through this and the wash up from the New South Wales election. Patrick, we better start with you. It sounds like a big concession. So a cap on gross emissions, the Greens are basically saying, well, coal and gas projects are going to struggle to get up from here on in. Is that right?

PATRICK GORMAN, ASSISTANT MINISTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER: We’ll announce our policies in our terms when the Prime Minister and Minister Bowen stand up in about 15 minutes time. But what we’ve been focussed on is delivering what we took to the election. That is a commitment to make sure that we can get sensible reductions in emissions, to ensure that all of those projects, that all of those emitters, those 215 major emitters, can, in fact, make sure that we reduce emissions. And it’s important that we actually do get this moving. This has been in front of the Parliament for a long time. This is a plan we took to the election. I think the other question, though, Tom, is why are we negotiating with the cross bench? It’s because Peter Dutton and the No-alition came out straight away and said, we will not back this and they refused to engage in constructive dialogue.

CONNELL: Getting echoes of Greg Hunt. He likes to ask questions and then answer them. Maybe he’s watching. Patrick, let’s just get back to what the Greens said. Do you agree with Adam Bandt on this hard cap? Is that what this effectively does? And a zero net zero test for even an export on gas. Isn’t that going to be a pretty high bar for gas in the future and less gas open. Is that the point of this?

GORMAN: Like I said, we’ll announce our policy in our terms when the Prime Minister and Minister Bowen stand up. Everyone who’s watching now will find out all of that information in the press conference that will be perfectly broadcast in full high definition here on Sky News. So that information will come. But what is a big and important thing for the Parliament is to get this safeguard mechanism moving. It’s been in front of the Parliament for a number of months. We took it to the election. The Australian people want that sensible action on climate change which we promised. Moving the safeguard mechanism along will get us that 43% emissions reduction by 2030.

CONNELL: Here’s what we’ll broadcast, your preselection will be interesting next time. They’ll be playing that and pretending you’re, I suppose, moonlighting as a reporter, Patrick Gorman. Jason, what do you make of your party just not being involved in the negotiations at all? Did that strike you as strange?

JASON FALINKSI, FORMER LIBERAL MP: Look, Tom, my preference would have been that they had got involved. But having said that, what a joke this negotiation is. Adam Bandt has just basically sold the farm for a confirmation that Labor is not going to move Christmas Day from 25 December. What he said was the Beetaloo Basin can go ahead if they meet net zero or offsets for scope one emissions. They’ve already agreed to do that. So he’s basically signed up to the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory. But what else would you expect from the Labor party, the Greens and the Teals, who late last year passed a piece of legislation that handed nearly a billion dollars to some of the most profitable coal companies in the world? They talk the talk on climate change, but the truth is, when it comes down to it, they’ve got nothing to show and they have no solutions to actually bringing down Australia’s emissions.

CONNELL: Well, we’ll find out soon enough from the PM. The Greens claiming they’ve put a cap on overall emissions per year, the gross number of 140 megatons, where it would have risen to at least 155 or 184. We’ll see what Labor’s interpretation of that is. Jason, the New South Wales election, you were part of the decision desk, so you were seeing all the numbers come in. What have you made of the results so far? Look, we’ve still got to see where the seats go, but we know roughly how voters have decided on all this. What lessons do you think there are for the federal party?

FALINSKI: Look you got it, the Liberal party needs to talk in the language of aspiration and individual empowerment. If it’s not doing that, it will lose votes both in its heartland and in Western Sydney and in other parts of Australia that are looking for a better future. And under this federal government, and I suspect under the Minns’ government, what we will find is that people will be materially worse off. We’ve already seen since this federal government got elected, that real wages have been cut despite their promises to do elsewise. That energy prices are going through the roof, in fact, going through the roof faster than emissions are increasing, Tom. So I think unless the Liberal party really starts talking in the language of aspirations and starts talking to people more than just those people who tune into Chris Kenny at night, then we’re not going to win elections. And it’s a pretty simple formula, frankly, for a political party.

CONNELL: So you think federally they’re narrowcasting at the moment?

FALINSKI: I think the federal party is not even in opposition for twelve months. But the fact of the matter is, I think the very strong message out of this for Peter Dutton and his team, and I think you can see that they’ve picked up on it already, is that you need to talk to people about their aspirations and their hopes for the future. I mean, the Labor party, the Greens and the teals. And this deal on climate that we’ve seen today is so cynical. It will impose cost, it will increase energy and it won’t reduce emissions. It is once again policy by press release. And so the fact of the matter is that there is a huge opportunity for Peter Dutton and his team to win in a landslide in two years time by talking to people about their hopes and aspirations and talking to people who don’t just watch Sky News when the sun goes down.

CONNELL: I feel like you’re reflecting on my colleagues there, but I’ll leave that one alone. I have a thick skin. Patrick, what did you make of the New South Wales election? I guess the interesting thing out of it, from a Labor point of view, new Labor government, one of the big promises, there weren’t a lot made, uncapped wages within many parts of the public service. Is it dangerous? You’re already hearing unions say, well, anything other than inflation is a wage cut. That’d be chasing inflation, wouldn’t it?

GORMAN: Well, I’ll leave state wages policy to state governments. When it comes to what we saw in New South Wales, I congratulate Chris Minns, that was a decisive victory. A huge credit to him and his New South Wales Labor team. We look forward to working with them on a range of the things that we have committed to as a federal government and continuing important projects in New South Wales. And I also congratulate former Premier Dominic Perrottet, who I think conducted himself well throughout the election. And indeed, that was a very heartfelt concession speech from him on Saturday night. I think the lesson, which is really the question in this building in Parliament this week, is does Peter Dutton change his style of politics? We saw that election was two competing visions, but with some level of mutual respect and a level of positivity. And what I think we want to see in this building, this week, is does Peter Dutton take any lessons or do we get the same negativity, the same opposition, the same No-alition that we’ve seen for the last ten months?

FALINSKI: Obviously talking points can now replace policy. Talking points can now replace policy. We saw that just a minute ago with Adam Bandt. The fact of the matter is that last time I was on here, I said if anyone’s heard of Chris Minns and any policy he’s got, call back. And a friend of mine gave me the Labor party policy book, which, no joke, was a colouring-in book. I mean the Labor party, we heard more about the Labor party policy in Chris Minns’ acceptance speech than we heard throughout the campaign. The lesson here for the Liberal party is quite clear, it is to stand up for our values and to talk to people that we haven’t been talking to, Millennials and Generation Z, about what the future looks like for them and how we can make a better Australia for them. And that’s the key to what we need to do, not to actually follow the left wing. Whether they be Teals, Greens and the Labor party, down the same old trodden path of policy by press release that only ends up in a future with less opportunities for them.

GORMAN: Well, Jason, if you’re going to say that the Liberal party needs to be out there talking to millennials, talking to Generation Z, then surely you actually need to have your federal leader actually visit New South Wales to talk to those people. I mean, the leader of the opposition has been hiding in Canberra. He refuses to visit New South Wales, the biggest state in the Commonwealth. I mean, if that doesn’t show your former colleagues that something is seriously wrong within the Liberal party, then I don’t know what will. And I don’t think that the Liberal party has a message for Millennials and Generation Z. You don’t have a plan. I mean, we’ve seen it on climate, we’ve seen it in terms of how–

FALINSKI: Well, mate, I can tell you this now, we have a better plan on home ownership. Your plan is just to give more and more money to Labor party fund managers in Industry Super.

GORMAN: Our plan is to build more houses in social and affordable housing, including for veterans. That’s our plan.

FALINSKI: People want to own their own houses, Pat. People want to own their own houses. They don’t want to live in housing commission homes. They don’t want to live in houses owned by Industry Super. They want to own their own houses, Patrick.

CONNELL: I think we’ve got a couple of different policies being talked about there. The 30,000, Labor says they’ll build that. There are partly social housing that they wouldn’t own-

FALINSKI: They are social and affordable housing, not owned by the people living in them.

GORMAN: look, Tom, with that performance, I think we’ve had Jason go from having a shot at Sky After Dark, to doing an audition for Sky After Dark. Jason, which side of the fence are you on?

FALINSKI: Pat, why don’t we talk policy? You can have as many shots at me as you want, but on Saturday night, Chris Kenny basically suggested that the Liberal party should chase, the Liberal party should chase, the 1.7% of One Nation, rather than actually going after the 10% of people who we got only four years ago to vote for us. One Nation and chasing those votes is not the answer.

GORMAN: I agree on that Jason.

CONNELL: Patrick, Jason, thank you. We’re a broad church here at Sky News.

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