Transcript - Radio Interview - 2CC - Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Transcript - Radio Interview - 2CC - Wednesday, 17 November 2021 Main Image

By Joel Fitzgibbon

17 November 2021

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: Joining us as he does on a Wednesday is the Labor Member for Hunter and former Defence and Agriculture and a whole bunch of other Ministries, Joel Fitzgibbon. Joel, what other portfolios did you hold?


JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: In government only the two – Defence and Agriculture. But over my more than 25 years, where I spent a lot of time in opposition, sadly, I was Shadow Minister for just about everything, Stephen, at some time.


CENATIEMPO: Well, there you go, plenty of experience. Now, you and I have railed against this kind of behaviour for years, these protesters blocking coal trains. Barnaby Joyce is saying something like $60 million in exports could have been upheld by these people recently.


FITZGIBBON: Yeah, that's probably right. And in addition to that, grains exports coming from our farmers were blocked, as were passenger trains. And it really is economic vandalism by people whose arrogance is only outweighed by their ignorance. They don't understand the value of this coal, and they certainly don't understand its value to the Australian economy. And their actions are completely disrespectful to the mine workers who win that coal on a daily basis, and all those who work in the supply chain.


CENATIEMPO: More importantly, though, they're blocking it once it's already been mined. I mean, we're talking about coal that's already been pulled out of the ground. If they want to stop coal mining, they're probably doing it at the wrong part of the supply chain.


FITZGIBBON: Well, I wish your listeners could have seen the video that was posted by this Blockade Australia group where a woman was shoveling coal out of the coal wagon and as she described it, putting it back into the earth to protect us all and to protect our environment. What she doesn't understand is that most of that coal is going to developing countries in Asia, where it's giving them electricity, poor people electricity for the first time, keeping the lights on, keeping people warm, and keeping the wheels of industry turning. This is their opportunity to have the industrial revolution we had long ago to bring them out of poverty. So, what these people are trying to do is to keep these people in poverty. And of course, if Australia's efficient coal doesn't go to India, and China, then they will get their coal from a country with less efficient coal. And of course, if they do that, carbon pollution will rise.


CENATIEMPO: Well, I'm glad you said that, because I made this comment earlier in the week in the wake of Cop 26, where, and I think it was the representative from the Marshall Islands who said that European life was built on coal, and it will die on coal. And that's the important point, is that we in the Western world have been able to develop the standard of living that we have off the back of coal-fired power. And now we want to deny that to the developing world. I mean, it's hypocrisy writ large.


FITZGIBBON: Well, it is, but it's worse than that. When people think about climate change, and it's an important issue, they think about electricity generation. But in Australia, we won't have any coal-fired generators come 2050. But 80 per cent of the world's energy comes from fossil fuels, either coal, oil or gas – the planes in the air, the cars and trucks on the road, the heating in our homes, the heating in our industrial plants, the feedstock in our manufacturing processes, these are all coming from fossil fuels. It's not just about electricity generation. And these markets in Asia desperately need those fossil fuels. And coal, of course, Stephen, is the largest export in New South Wales, it helps pay, largely pays for our police, our hospitals, our schools, etcetera. And this is something that these protesters just refuse to recognise.


CENATIEMPO: Now, Parliament sits again for the last... this will be the last sitting period this year, is that right?


FITZGIBBON: Well, two weeks starting next Monday, that will be the last sitting period for this year. Now, we are, well we don't have the sitting dates for next year, but generally, we would come back, usually we would come back in February. But if Scott Morrison decides to go for a March election, then there is every chance this will be the last two sitting weeks prior to an election.


CENATIEMPO: So, whilst the election hasn't been called yet, it's pretty fair to say that both leaders are well and truly campaigning. How does that affect the next two sitting weeks and what changes?


FITZGIBBON: Well, I suppose it just raises the temperature, just a little bit. More energy and people are on fast forward. I mean, the gun has unofficially fired, there's no doubt about that. And when you look at the leaders at the moment, you'd swear there was an election campaign, which means for your listeners, it's going to be a long story.


CENATIEMPO: Yes, indeed. I've noticed Albo's bought himself some new suits. He's looking very slick lately.


FITZGIBBON: He's looking very smart. I don't think he'd mind me telling you and your listeners that he's lost about 14 kilos and looking very smart. Look, I think that's a good thing. He'll no doubt be feeling pretty energetic, pretty keen. And look, I think he's done a good job over the last two and a half years. He's certainly made the Labor Party competitive again and I think it's anybody's race.


CENATIEMPO: So, given that you've announced that you're not running in the next election, what do you do during this period?


FITZGIBBON: Well, it's interesting, because I've never been in this situation before, of course. But obviously, I keep doing all of my work on behalf of my constituents. Nothing changes there. I'm employed to do that right up until effectively, well, technically until the writs are issued, but I would call it up to election day, I'll still be the member, so I'll kept doing that work. And no doubt I'll spend lots of time helping Labor's new candidate, Dan Repacholi on the campaign trail.


CENATIEMPO: Well, you can't say no, because he is a professional shooter.


FITZGIBBON: Well, he has lots of great attributes.


CENATIEMPO: Joel, good to talk to you. We'll catch up next week.


FITZGIBBON: A pleasure, Stephen.


CENATIEMPO: All the best, Joel Fitzgibbon, Labor Member Hunter, and back with us next Wednesday.