Transcript - Radio Interview - 2GB - Friday, 9 October 2020

Transcript - Radio Interview - 2GB - Friday, 9 October 2020 Main Image

By Joel Fitzgibbon

09 October 2020

DEBORAH KNIGHT, HOST: A let's check in with Angus Taylor and Joel Fitzgibbon for Friday Question Time, and the issue of the borders of course fellas, has been front and centre for so many people in New South Wales and Queensland, and finally we've got common sense with the Queensland Government announcing they will allow Gary [Ralph] to quarantine at home after brain surgery in Sydney. Angus, welcome news?
ANGUS TAYLOR, MINISTER FOR ENERGY AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION: Absolutely welcome news. I mean, look, there's no doubt Australia is better off when it's open, in every state, is better off when it's open. So, it's, look it's good to see this. We need to keep opening up the economy, opening up the states, making sure we're getting our tourism industry back up and running, making sure that those workers who have got to cross the border every day are able to do that. Truckies, et cetera. But look, particularly good to see this case, given given the egregious circumstances.
KNIGHT: Absolutely. I know that Wayne Swan, the Queensland, was asked about this on the Today Show this morning. He was saying change had to happen, but Joel has Albo at any point picked up the phone and spoken to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, or even WA Premier Mark McGowan, to bring about common sense here?
JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: Well Deb I know he talks to significant Labor people all the time. I don’t know when was the last time he spoke with Annastacia but I suspect he would have in recent times. We all want what Angus wants: we want the economy and each of the states and the borders opened-up as quickly as is possible.
KNIGHT: Well, that's something that we are in agreeance on that's for sure. Now, the budget tax cuts, they've now passed the Senate. So, Angus when will we see the money in our pockets?
TAYLOR: Well, very soon. When people pay their tax is when they are - in the usual way through the tax system. Look, this is all about making sure that we get the private sector in a position where it's investing, it's employing, people are out there consuming and adding to the economy, and that's the focus of our Budget. It's temporary, it's targeted to private-sector driven - households and businesses. And that's how you solve a temporary problem. I mean, ultimately we want to get the economy back to where it was, and so we’re using these temporary targeted measures. Very significant infrastructure investment, of course, in the next couple of years, that's a big part of it. About a billion dollars in my electorate alone in the next 12 months, which is fantastic, but we're seeing that right across Australia. And then we can revert to normal and that's where we want to get to as fast as we can.
KNIGHT: Well business groups, industry groups, across the board have welcomed this budget, but a lot of doubts being cast on this assumption that a vaccine will be available and rolled out across the country by next year. Many medical experts are saying that's a pretty optimistic forecast to have. There are still a lot of ifs in there, aren’t there?
TAYLOR: Well, there's a lot of uncertainties in the world we're in at the moment and there has been for some time. There's no shirking from that, but what we can control is the measures we’re taking to get the economy back up and running, getting people into jobs, getting businesses investing, getting infrastructure on the ground. That's what we can control, that's the heart of the budget. You've always got to make an assumption around the context within which that works but these are very significant measures, as I say, temporary, targeted but they will get the economy back up and running and that's what it's all about.
KNIGHT: And Joel Labor's delivered the Budget reply, Anthony Albanese doing that in Parliament. The big heart of all of this is affordable and free childcare, which is something I do support, but you've shot yourself in the foot here, I mean, you've got to provide costings. How can you float an idea if you can't show how you're going to pay for it?
FITZGIBBON: Deb, this question arises, of course, because the Government has delivered eye-watering levels of debt and deficit. So it's not surprising people will be asking how these things will be paid-for. But the measure is fully costed, $6.2 billion over four years, quite modest compared to some of the initiatives in Tuesday night's Budget, all of which we've supported. What Anthony Albanese is saying is this is a critical measure in our community, in our economy. It's about getting people participating in the workforce, particularly women who are generally held back because it's not worth going to work because all the money goes to childcare. So, this will be our priority, and between now and the election we'll have to work out what savings we make to pay for it. Look, there are plenty to go around. You know, take 30 million paid for a $3 million block of land. Add all those things up, and savings can be found.
TAYLOR: Oh, that’s rot, Joel. Look the truth is the difference between our side of politics and Labor is they lock in the recurrent spending forevermore, when there is a downturn. We say this is temporary, it's targeted, it's proportionate, it gets things back up and running. And then we've got households and businesses getting on with their lives, and the different approach Labor takes is to continually lock in this longer-term spending and they've got to explain, not just the next four years but the next 20 years, how they're going to pay for it and they never do it.
KNIGHT: Now Albo...
FITZGIBBON: ... so the tax cuts, Deb can I say, aren't recurrent? I mean, the tax cuts we support, Angus, are not recurrent? Certainly, they are. Tax cuts are in part about incentivising work. The childcare policy does exactly that, too. And both of them are recurrent.
TAYLOR: Only Labor can think that a tax cut is some kind of saving. I mean, people's money that they earn is their money, and we're giving more back to them. We're talking here about a long-term, saving recurrent expenditure and Labor can never explain where they're going to pay for those things.
KNIGHT: One of the big criticisms...
FITZGIBBON: ...If you get more women into the workforce they'll pay more tax won't they, Angus.
KNIGHT: Alright, one of the big criticisms that's emerged out of Albo's budget reply speech, he made mention of the mining industry, and I saw that you, Joel applauded on Twitter, but he also wants to invest twenty billion dollars to modernise the electricity grid through renewables. And the criticism, which I think is warranted here, that he seems to be announcing things to appeal to one audience, and things to appeal to another. You can't achieve both.
FITZGIBBON: Well, of course you can, Deb. And as much as people in my electorate, where we have a lot of coal-fired power generation, might not like it, nor do I, our coal-fired generators are ageing, and they will be decommissioned when they come to the end of their economic and physical lives. And we needed to transition to that situation and getting more firming power, like gas power, into the system is part of it. And as Angus knows, making the electricity grid through the transmission lines more stable will allow us to get more renewables into the system, too.
KNIGHT: Angus?
TAYLOR: But Joel, you can't replace a coal-fired power station with solar farms and wind farms, and you know that. Look, there's no plan in this for gas, no plan for fuel security, no plan for lower energy prices. There's not even a plan to meet the goals of the Paris agreement, which is the 2030 target. And what's extraordinary about this measure is it's $20 billion to go to transmission companies that are owned by the world's largest pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, without a benefit being passed through to customers. I mean, this is an extraordinary initiative. I don't know what problem they're trying to solve here. We're already supporting all of the priority transmission projects that are required, and we don't need the government to actually lend them $20 billion. They can get that debt already and you’re really just feathering the pockets of overseas companies.
KNIGHT: Well let’s hope that this budget starts having an impact because we need it and we need the economy to get back up and running, that's for sure. Now I want to end on this, fellas. Steve Smith, one of our greatest cricketers ever; he's having a go at something a little bit different. Have a listen to this
AUDIO: [Audio of Steve Smith playing guitar and singing]
KNIGHT: I think we'll end it there because it's a bit hard to hear on the ears, really. He's picked up the guitar and he's polishing his singing skills. He's even getting Guy Sebastian to mentor him and I think as has been suggested on 2GB brekkie this morning, that Guy Sebastian will have a fulltime job doing that. What skill Have you got, Angus that you're really, really proud of but others don't really rate?
TAYLOR: Well, I reckon I cook a pretty good basic meal, Deb...
KNIGHT: ... basic?
TAYLOR: And one of my favourites is bangers and mash and I cook the mash with a potato peels on. But I have got to tell you, every time I do it, I get very poor ratings from the family. From the kids and from Louise. They don't love it. So, my cooking, I think it's pretty good but doesn't seem to rate with the fans.
KNIGHT: Okay. Yeah, you do have to peel it. You got to peel it you got to...
TAYLOR: ...this is a long-standing debate in our family. It's much tastier if you leave the potato peels on.
KNIGHT: But it's all lumpy.
TAYLOR: Well, but they're tasty lumps, you know. This is a very important debate. And I reckon I do it pretty well, Deb and I understand the point about lumpiness, but the lumpiness is the best part of it. 
KNIGHT: Okay, I can hear the debate ringing around your kitchen table. Joel, what about you?
FITZGIBBON: Yeah, I'm opposed to the lumps, Deb. That's for sure. I've declared my love for bangers and mash on your program before, so that’s a bit scary as well. I think you asked a similar question from my perspective some time ago. For me, it's being funny. Both my family and my staff are always chastising me for saying stupid, or making stupid attempts at being funny and it never really works for me, sadly.
KNIGHT: The dad jokes. I can see all of your nearest and dearest rolling their eyes in agreement when you say that at the moment, but yeah. Well we appreciate your jokes. We mightn’t love them. But yeah, we won't let you tell one today though. We don't appreciate them that much. Alright...
FITZGIBBON: ... it's not too un-Australian to say Steve Smith should stick to his day job.
KNIGHT: No, I'm with you there. I'm with you there. That's not un-Australian. That's pure practical. That's...
TAYLOR: ... he's having a crack.
KNIGHT: He's having a crack. That's one word for it. Angus Taylor, Joel Fitzgibbon good on you. Thanks for joining us.
TAYLOR: Thanks Deb and Joel