DEBORAH KNIGHT, HOST: And joining me as they do every Friday, the Federal Member for the Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon and Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor. And lots to talk about with you both today, a lot of it within your portfolio, Angus. On the global stage, we've had President Joe Biden, from the US hosting this climate summit overnight, a lot of the world committing to pretty ambitious targets for emissions reduction, the US and Canada pledging to cut 2005 emissions in half by 2030. But no commitment from Australia, Angus. Why not?
ANGUS TAYLOR, MINISTER FOR ENERGY AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION: Well, we are committed, we're committed. And importantly, what the Prime Minister said last night is we're performing. At the end of the day, Deb, future generations will thank us not for promises made by politicians, but for delivery and on that score, we can always be relied on. Our performance has been better than many of the countries we saw from last night. Canada, New Zealand, Japan, United States, we've outperformed all of them, and we've stayed within these agreements, we've stuck to them. But we've done it in a way which is distinctively Australian. Focusing on technology, not taxes, on making sure we don't impose new costs on households, businesses or the economy. That's our way of doing it. It's working, it's delivering, it'll continue to deliver, and we're staying the course.
KNIGHT: I just still don't understand though. I mean, pathways, roadmaps, if we're going to meet these targets in a canter, why not publicly commit to them?
TAYLOR: Well, we have. I mean, this is extraordinary...
KNIGHT: ... You're not actually sitting down saying, by this date, we will achieve this.
TAYLOR: You know, we have. We've said we want to get to net-zero...
KNIGHT: ... You want to get there, but you're not committing to it.
TAYLOR: We want to get there, preferably before 2050. And we made that unambiguous, we've set a 2030 target, a strong 2030 target and we said we want to meet and beat it. Labor doesn't even have a 2030 target at all, Deb. Joel wants them to take our target on which is sensible, but we're very clear about this. Deb, we've met and beaten our targets in the past, you know, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, they all pulled out, they pulled out of their Kyoto Agreement, now they're back in, that's great. And they're setting their commitments around that. But we've stayed the course, we're delivering, we're doing the right thing, and we're doing it in a way which is right for Australia. And that's what's most important of all.
KNIGHT: Now, the only other nations at the summit who didn't make the commitment to the 50% target were India and China. Joel, are you comfortable with Australia being bunked in...
TAYLOR: ... Deb, that is not correct. Can I just correct that? We only heard three...
KNIGHT: ... You're talking about pathways and roadmaps. I'm talking about a concrete commitment.
TAYLOR: We've made a commitment. I mean, you know, when you say all these other countries...
KNIGHT: ... It's semantics, isn't it? I mean, this is semantics.
TAYLOR: Deb, you have got to get your facts right here, alright. Now, what's very clear here is we have been part of the Kyoto Agreement and part of the Paris Agreement all the way along. Most of these, many of these other countries either didn't meet their targets, or pulled out. We stayed the course, we welcome the United States, as we welcome New Zealand and Canada back into the Paris Agreement. That's great news. But let's get the facts right here. Australia has been a clear performer. We've out-delivered, we've out-done it, we'll continue to, we'll meet and beat our targets. Our targets are clear, we don't need to keep changing them and that's an unambiguous position we've held for a long time.
KNIGHT: Have I got my facts wrong, Joel?
JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: No, you're spot on, Deb. And I'm holding my fingers crossed, because despite being in the middle of Singleton, I have a very bad mobile signal. Something to do with the weather I think, the rains we've had. But look, Deb, you're absolutely right. Angus is a little bit excited, I can tell today. We know the answer to your question, Deb. Scott Morrison just won't commit to zero-net emissions by 2050 because it wasn't his idea and he earlier said he would...
TAYLOR: ... So Joel, when will Labor commit to a 2030 target?
FITZGIBBON: Angus, you have had plenty of opportunity. Countries around the world, states around Australia, companies within and outside Australia, are making the commitment to zero-net emissions by 2050 because it's a bit like weight loss, Angus, you set yourself a goal...
TAYLOR: ... What's your 2030 target, Joel?
FITZGIBBON: And then it imposes upon you a discipline to make sure that you get there and I have no doubt that Australia can get there without doing any harm to our economy or to jobs. And it's pretty clear now Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor now think that too. Otherwise, you wouldn't be doing all but saying you're committed. Now you know my view on the medium-term target, Angus. I think that whichever government goes to the meeting of the parties, they make a commitment on medium-term on behalf of the Australian people, and all the political parties, and my view is that once that commitment is made, that target shouldn't change within the commitment period. But, Angus, why is it you can have a medium-term target, but you can't have a longer term target out to 2050. It doesn't really make any sense.
TAYLOR: Well hang on, let me push back on this again. That is simply wrong. We made it very clear our goal is to get to net zero, we want to get there by 2050. That's part of the Paris Agreement, Joel. There's no ambiguity about that. Where there's a debate in politics in Australia is on the 2030 targets. And right now, whilst your position, I think you're on the side of the angels. I agree with you, of course, we're one on this issue. But your party is not. Your party doesn't have a 2030 target. It has refused to commit to one and wants to lecture us on what needs to be done. I mean, I think you've got to get your house in order first.
KNIGHT: So will we see then, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, Angus, before the next meeting - which we know that's where we'll see more of the detail here being fleshed out - will we see Scott Morrison make a commitment? Publicly state I commit to x, y, z.
TAYLOR: Well, we already have. You see, this is the point I'm making to you, Deb. Our commitments are clear, unambiguous, more transparent than almost any other country in the world, and they don't move all the time. We don't make a promise, like a lot of politicians do in the world, and then drop them. That's what's happened in a number of these other countries. We stick by it. Now, we also seek to meet and beat our commitments. We treat our goals, our commitments, as a floor in our ambitions, not a cap. But as, and Joel and I are agreed on this. We've got to do it in a way, which is to create jobs, drive investment, don't destroy industries. I mean, that is the right way to go about it.
KNIGHT: Allan on the text line is saying a goal without a date is a dream. And I think that's the right way of putting it...
TAYLOR: ... Hang on, our 2030 targets are for 2030. Our net-zero target is to get there preferably by 2050. We've made that clear. These are, there's no ambiguity here. But where there is ambiguity within Australia is about whether or not to have a 2030 target. Labor doesn't want one, you can't be part of the Paris Agreement without them. And there are many within Labor who would also like to tax Australians, we know that. Chris Bowen would love to impose a carbon tax. That's just not a place we're going to go.
KNIGHT: Alright, I want to talk about...
FITZGIBBON: Just quickly, Deb, sorry. The conference of the party in November, will require governments around the world to set a new medium-term target. What Scott Morrison and Angus are up to here is that they will try to kick that decision down the road, beyond the election. So today wants me to tell him what Labor's medium-term target is, but his plan is not to announce a new medium term target until after the next federal election. I'll bet my house on it.
TAYLOR: Well, that's actually just not correct, Joel. There's no requirement at the next conference to provide a new target, that's just not true...
KNIGHT: ... Alright, we're going to disagree on this...
TAYLOR: ... Well, it's actually just not, it's just not correct. So, you know, you need to get your facts straight, Joel, if you're going to make those sorts of assertions. It's not correct.
KNIGHT: I want to talk about China, because we've had a big announcement..
FITZGIBBON: ... Can I just say, Angus and I agree on one thing. We don't talk enough about our achievements, and we've had significant achievements on this front. We talk too much about what we haven't done and not enough about what we have done, what we have achieved.
KNIGHT: Okay. Let's move on, let's move on to China. We've had the controversial Belt and Road agreement between the Victorian Government and Beijing scrapped, which I think is a really good move by the Foreign Minister, Marise Payne. Standing up for our national interest. Joel, you've been critical of the government over its relationship with China. You have to agree though, this was the right move?
FITZGIBBON: Well, it's certainly a serious escalation in the blue we're having with China, Deb, and that's going to further hurt our economy, I have no doubt. Was it the right decision? Probably. I don't know, because I don't sit in the National Security Committee of the Cabinet. But I do hope it was a decision made on the advice of our security agencies. Remembering, it's an MOU, Deb, which has been sitting there for three years, nothing's ever been done with it. And they invoke Iran and Syria, these agreements have occurred 20 years ago, or something, which have been also lying dormant. So, look it's probably the right decision. I welcome it if it keeps us safer. But the government hasn't really explained what this is about, and I do wonder whether this is a grenade thrown in at a time when the government is struggling.
TAYLOR: Well, there's no ambiguity about what this is about. This is about standing up for Australia's interests. We'll never surrender our values or our interests. We, I think this is a good decision by the Foreign Minister. And these powers are all about ensuring we've got a consistent approach across, in our foreign policy, across all levels of government. I mean, we're the ones who enter into international arrangements. They need to be done consistent with their values and interests and we will do everything we can to make sure that's the case
KNIGHT: Agreed. Now, on the vaccine rollout, another change to the plan. Now the Pfizer vaccine will be restricted to people under the age of 50 until at least the end of the year. Do you think this is getting very confusing for people, Angus? I've got an email here that I received this morning from Sam, who says I am very confused now. Both my wife and I have cancelled our AstraZeneca vaccination two weeks ago and we don't know what we should be doing.
TAYLOR: Well, it depends on your age. I mean, I'm 54, it's very clear I'm going to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. I'd like to get it as soon as possible. And it's important those of us who are over 50 in public life take a leadership role and show people that this is safe, and we need to get on with it. And, you know, look, the fact of the matter is we've been working very hard in difficult circumstances, because the new facts have been coming in on the vaccines and who they're most safe for, and we've been making good progress. We're up to 1.8 million people vaccinated now, we're very much in line with other countries in the pace of the rollout. And as I say, I'm very much looking forward to having my vaccination as soon as possible.
KNIGHT: Joel, should we be stopping all flights from India because of the dire situation over there. We stopped all flights from China at the start of the pandemic. Is a 30 per cent reduction in flights enough?
FITZGIBBON: Well, first of all, Deb, can I say Angus and I are in trouble. You're okay, of course. But we've only got one choice, haven't we. AstraZeneca. And I'm now nervous. I've been very keen to promote, encourage people to have confidence in the product, but because of decisions of government, Angus and I as a 50 year old only have one choice now. And that's a real problem for Australia. I think the government's made the right decision on India. It seems to be based on expert medical advice. And I think one of the reasons we've done so well in the pandemic is that we have followed, the government has, governments plural, have followed expert medical and health advice and that's a good thing. So I support the decision.
KNIGHT: And with India?
FITZGIBBON: I support the decision, yes.
KNIGHT: Alright. Angus, good move there. Now Anzac Day, I want to just finally, just get your thoughts how you'll be commemorating this very important day, Angus?
TAYLOR: Well, last year I was down the driveway. I think Joel did the same. But this year, I'll be, I'm lucky enough to be able to get around, right around my electorate. So, I'll be in Picton, Goulburn, Bundanoon and Taralga. So looking forward to really engaging with those communities in ways we haven't been able to over the last year.
KNIGHT: Yeah, thank goodness we can do that. How about you, Joel?
FITZGIBBON: The driveway ceremonies did, or services, did bring something unique and special, Deb, but it's nice that we're inching back towards normality on Anzac Day. I'll be at the dawn service at Cessnock, my hometown, before making my way to a morning service in Muswellbrook and then back to Singleton for the RSL luncheon. Looking forward to a very solemn occasion.
KNIGHT: Yeah, it's such an important day and I'll be joining you in remembering the vets and their service. And we thank you both, we'll talk again next week.
TAYLOR: Good on you. Thanks Deb and Joel.
FITZGIBBON: Thanks team.
KNIGHT: There they are, Angus Taylor and Joel Fitzgibbon.