Transcript - Radio Interview - 2CC - Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Transcript - Radio Interview - 2CC - Wednesday, 8 December 2021 Main Image

By Joel Fitzgibbon

08 December 2021

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: Joining us as he does on a Wednesday is the former Defence and Agriculture Minister and Labor Member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon. G'day, Joel.




CENATIEMPO: Can you believe these idiots?


FITZGIBBON: The world has gone completely mad, mate. That's the truth of it.


CENATIEMPO: It really has. Now Labor has released its climate change policy, a 43 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030. How do you justify this given that Albo came out and said the 45 per cent reduction target at the last election was stupid?


FITZGIBBON: Well, let me first of all say, Stephen, that it's no secret that from time to time, I've had disagreement with my own party. And I make no apology about that. I mean, the heart of our representative democracy is the idea that we all stand up for our local electorates and that's what I've always done. And we've had some contests in the party about climate change policy, we all believe that the climate is changing in adverse ways, and we need to do something about it, and I think we should. And this does, this policy, without doing harm to the economy. The big difference between the 45 per cent last time around, and this policy is that the 45 per cent was basically plucked out of the air and Labor wasn't really able to explain how it was going to get there. This time, it's much different. What we've done is we've developed the policy settings and we've allowed the policy outcomes to determine what the target is or should be. The other thing that's changed is achievement. The government is saying that its own expert modeling has us on track to hit 35 per cent by 2030. So, there's not a big gap between Labor's target and the achievement the government says we're going to make by that time anyway. So, this is common sense. It will create jobs, not cost jobs, it'll get emissions down, and hopefully, it'll get electricity prices down as well.


CENATIEMPO: So, why is it that Jennie George, and you'd have to say that when it comes to job creation, a former ACTU President has probably got a good idea of what's going on, says that it's fanciful, that you're going to create these 604,000 jobs, I think the figure was.


FITZGIBBON: Well, I like and respect Jennie. But she wasn't challenging the core of the policy, she wasn't challenging the idea that it would reduce the emissions, create jobs, and drive electricity prices down. All she was saying was that we've been too ambitious, or we've overstated the number of jobs which will be created. Okay, so let's say it's 600,000 jobs instead of 300,000 – sorry, it's 300,000 jobs instead of 600,000 jobs, Stephen, or whatever she thinks the number is. That's still a lot of new jobs.


CENATIEMPO: Yeah, I just, I wonder how it's actually going to happen, though. And, you know, the reality is, and you live in a coal mining electorate, it's pretty obvious where the jobs in coal mining come from, whether it be through the construction phase, or the mining phase of a coal mining operation, these renewable energy, by their very definition, the jobs are only ever going to be short term, aren't they?


FITZGIBBON: But the point we make in this policy, and the thing we achieve in this policy is we retain all those coal mining and associated jobs. Most of our coal goes to export markets and we'll continue to export it, while ever the world is willing to buy it. So, this policy doesn't impact only current jobs, but it can create and will create additional jobs in those new industries. Now, is this magic pudding? No, not at all. Because we'll reduce the carbon pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. And then the government's put us on the trajectory anyway to 35 per cent. And we'll do it by doing additional things too, like reducing the carbon emissions of the public service, rewiring the high voltage transmission grid so new and more renewables can get into the system, things like community battery banks. We'll make EVs, electric vehicles, cheaper. So, more people will buy them, create a secondhand EV market. So, there's a whole suite of things that can help us hit 43 per cent without hurting any existing jobs.


CENATIEMPO: The US has announced that it's going to engage in a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Firstly, does this go far enough? And secondly, should Australia follow suit?


FITZGIBBON: Yeah, I'm a bit skeptical on this one. At least, Stephen, if Australia takes this decision, it will be doing it in step with countries like the United States, unlike was the situation with the COVID-19 virus, where we went out ahead of the world and called for an inquiry which was going to happen anyway. We should have sat back and let the community of nations speak, not go out individually. This is a bit of small beer really. I mean, we're happy to trade with China, sell our stuff there. You know, if we're happy to do that, we should reflect on our attitude. And as one Chinese official said, no one goes to the Olympics to watch diplomats. So, it's a small thing. But if we're doing it in concert with other countries, so be it. I'm fairly relaxed about it. But I'm a bit curious about the impact.


CENATIEMPO: I'm going to question that. I agree with you on the impact of it. But I have got to question the mentality that says we should be a world leader when it comes to climate change, but sit back and wait for everybody else on everything else.


FITZGIBBON: Well, I think the difference with climate change is that if you want to preach the gospel on international forums, you've got to be doing something yourself. We're an even smaller player in these diplomatic issues. But you know, if the international community wants to make the statement in China, so be it as long as it is a collective statement.


CENATIEMPO: Look, and I think there's plenty of other examples around the world where we probably should take a stand, so it's not just China. Joel, good to talk to you. We'll catch up again next week.


FITZGIBBON: Good on you, Stephen.


CENATIEMPO: Joel Fitzgibbon, the Labor Member for Hunter.