STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: And let's see if we've got Joel Fitzgibbon this time. G'day, Joel
JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: Hey, yeah, g'day Stephen. Eddie Williams hasn't even left the station yet and the wheels are starting to fall off.
CENATIEMPO: I was going to say he's dropped the ball in his last week, but yeah.
FITZGIBBON: I'm really worried about 2CC. I mean, you know, the presenters take all the glory, but we know where the real work is done and 2CC without Eddie Williams producing is a bit like a meat pie without sauce, isn't it? It's still very good, but it's just not the same.
CENATIEMPO: Yeah, I think you're 100 per cent right. He's been here... 2014 he started here.
FITZGIBBON: Yeah, he's a veteran. Can I just say – I know this because of my daughter, Grace – and your radio network, generally, does a great job mentoring young people and letting them freely go on to better and bigger things, which is I suppose what Eddie is about to do. My daughter is one such example, and it's a great credit to the radio station.
CENATIEMPO: Yeah, well said, well said. Now, negotiations over net zero emissions targets continue within the federal government. The Nationals, there seems to be open revolt within the National Party Room. Barnaby Joyce has warned that a loss of revenue from fossil fuel exports would affect the government's ability to support Australians on welfare. Well, I guess that's right. But again, we keep persisting with these targets that seem to mean nothing.
FITZGIBBON: Well, this is a very good development on two fronts, Stephen. One, it's great to see the Coalition tearing itself apart over climate change rather than the Labor Party. And two, this might be the first step towards a consensus on climate change. So we can get some moderate and sensible policies which deliver to the international community without doing harm to our traditional industries and those who work with them. You'll remember in November 2019, I said that the Labor Party should pull back, back Scott Morrison's target, and just let it be all about them, put the pressure on them to at least meet their more modest target, and make them the target rather than the Labor Party. Well, I'm feeling a bit vindicated, Stephen. That's what's happening right now. But there's a real opportunity here, I think, for all of us.
CENATIEMPO: Yeah, there's a couple of things to come out of this. So, and Bridget McKenzie has written about this in the Financial Review, she's accused the Liberal MPs who are supporting this net zero target of vacuousness over values. And I think there's something to be said for that. You've written an opinion piece in the Newcastle Herald today. But I want to talk about this climate summit in Glasgow, there's speculation that the Prime Minister might not go. I know Pauline Hanson has written to the Prime Minister's telling him not to go. There's others suggesting he has to be there. I know Albo's being critical of a suggestion that he might not go. Is there any point going to the summits?
FITZGIBBON: Well, I think you've got to be in the room, don't you, Stephen. No matter what your perspective on the issue itself. You know, we need to make sure that Glasgow doesn't become a pee competition – you know, that word starting with P?
FITZGIBBON: Now, people beating their chest, demonstrating that theirs can be bigger than someone else's. We need to be in the room, if we're going to be in the room, we should have our national leader there, making sure that the approach, the policy approach is a sensible one, a meaningful one, but one that doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater, and that's why he should be there.
CENATIEMPO: Now, one of the things that you've talked about in your piece in the Newcastle Herald today is carbon constraints and punishing energy intensive industries, suggesting they're unnecessary. I tend to agree with this because I mean, industry and well, particularly private industry, usually takes care of these things by itself. I mean, businesses, I think are better at reading the room than government sometimes.
FITZGIBBON: Well, they absolutely are. And if you go back 20 years when carbon constraints like carbon taxes were the going thing, we were in a much different environment. The market hadn't begun to move as it has now, and of course, we were nowhere near as advanced on the technology front. So carbon constraints, carbon taxes, whatever you like to call them, are a 20th century solution to a 21st century challenge. We don't need them. Technology will take us there, the market is taking us there already business are making decisions. For us. We need to be sensible about it. We can hit net zero emissions by 2050, I think easily, if we are smart about it, and we can do so without, for example, hurting our coal mining industry, which of course is export focused, and our efficient coal will be in demand in our Asian markets for many, many decades to come.
CENATIEMPO: How big an issue do you think this is going to become the election? Because whenever climate change seems to become an election industry, Labor is the loser. Is this going to carry over to the next federal election which we're expecting around March next year?
FITZGIBBON: Labor has been the loser in the climate wars for up to 25 years. And maybe this time around, the problem is going to be a bigger one for the Coalition. But look, I don't want that. I want a consensus on this issue. Climate change is real, it's happening and we need to act on it. And the only way we get meaningful solutions and public policy, and long lasting public policy is to get agreed sensible policy that lasts beyond the term of any one government, and therefore any one political party.
CENATIEMPO: You know what would solve all of this? Nuclear energy.
FITZGIBBON: Yeah, well, nuclear energy is a solution. Of course, you need to build the community consensus. About one sixth of the world's energy is produced from nuclear, plenty of countries use it. But let's let the market decide. Now, if someone wants to bring forward an investment proposal on nuclear, they should be able to have it tested both by government, the regulators, and of course, by the Australian community. But sadly, we have the silly prohibition in place, general prohibition that doesn't even allow the community to be asked.
CENATIEMPO: Yeah. New South Wales, or the New South Wales Government says it's going to halve its carbon emissions by 2030. Should state governments be getting involved in this stuff, or are they, Is this just posturing?
FITZGIBBON: Well, the New South Wales Government is dreaming. Now, that would kill our economy. And people like Matt Kean, the Minister there, should know better. First and foremost, this is a matter of business and markets. They are moving and moving very, very quickly. Obviously, the Commonwealth Government has a role to play guiding the market. But the state governments, I mean, really, I think they should stick to their knitting.
CENATIEMPO: Yeah, well you and I've always agreed we should get rid of them anyway. Joel, good to talk to you, mate. We'll catch up next week.
FITZGIBBON: Good on you, Stephen.