PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: Time now for my political panel and what a doozy of a day to talk about – Liberal MP, Jason Falinski and Labor MP, Joel Fitzgibbon, join me. Welcome.
JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: Thanks PK.
KARVELAS: Jason, level with me, is this a bad look for your Coalition colleagues, replacing leaders in the middle of a pandemic?
JASON FALINSKI, MEMBER FOR MACKELLAR: It's not the best look, let's be honest, Patricia, but they're a Democratic Party. They've made a decision. We have a new leader and a new Deputy Prime Minister tomorrow, as I understand.
KARVELAS: Okay. Not the best look. Why isn't it a good look?
FALINSKI: Well, Patricia, it's not a good look because of what, how you termed it, that we are in the middle of a pandemic, the government's been going very well, we've been delivering for all parts of Australia. And, you know, we need to, we need to be working for the people of Australia and not be focused on ourselves.
KARVELAS: Joel, there you go. Jason Falinski says it's not a good look, I think you agree, right?
FITZGIBBON: Well, naturally, Patricia. A very bad look, particularly this week when...
FALINSKI: ... No, I said not a good look. I didn't say it's a very bad look.
KARVELAS: Okay. Not a good look, you're saying a very bad look. I get it. A lot of nuance.
FITZGIBBON: Where the front and centre is the issues we face with respect to vaccination. I sat down with a number of people over the course of the weekend in my electorate, and they are horrified, frankly, with what's going on, particularly in the regions where I live. And they expect their government to be focused absolutely on them, not on themselves. So it's a bad day for the government. But let's not read too much into it. Let's see where it takes us.
KARVELAS: Okay, let's, well I'm going to read a bit more, because that's what I do. It's the entire purpose of this program. Jason Falinski...
FALINSKI: ... Did you say that you're here just to cause trouble, PK? Surely not.
KARVELAS: I hope so. I hope so. You'd hope journalists would. How absolutely, you know, boring if I wasn't.
FALINSKI: Boring. That's true.
FITZGIBBON: I thought that was my job.
KARVELAS: No, I'm not causing trouble. It's my question to ask questions and get the answers, so I'm going to ask this...
FALINKSI: ...What have I got myself in the middle of?
KARVELAS: Jason, good question for you. Barnaby Joyce, not a big fan of zero net emissions by 2050. In fact, he campaigned on it and won the leadership today. What does that mean? Do you think that the Coalition should go into Glasgow saying that you want to reach net zero emissions by 2050?
FALINSKI: Look, PK, my view is consistent with the Prime Minister's which is I think, as soon as we have a plan that we know we can get to work, we should go to whatever international forum and announce as soon as possible that we will be reaching net zero by 2050. Until we have a credible plan, we shouldn't go before then. To those people in the government who say we shouldn't announce it – I've been on the record as saying that we need to get in the game. We need to have a view on this. We need to have a solution to the climate change challenge that is in front of us, because if we don't, we will have solutions imposed on us by people overseas and from people on the left like Joel Fitzgibbon, and no one wants that, PK.
KARVELAS: I don't think they consider him on the left and his own party. But I want another question to you.
FALINSKI: You're not the only one who can cause trouble.
KARVELAS: Does that mean that you think that the Prime Minister should hold firm and try deliver a plan that goes there and not submit to the Nationals saying no, which no doubt they're going to do?
FALINSKI: I don't actually know that that's true, PK. I don't know that this today, I mean, I'm not a member of the National Party so I can't say for sure what the rationale behind the change in leader was. But what I can say is that I know that there are a lot of members of the National Party who do believe what I just said is right, which is that we have to engage in this debate. Because if we're not in the debate, then we're going to have other people impose solutions on us and that's the last thing we need.
KARVELAS: Ok Joel, obviously this climate issue is a huge one, and the one that as I say Barnaby Joyce campaigned internally on them and people knew where he stood on this, he thought that, that they should be going harder and pushing the Prime Minister on this issue. Does that, is that a problem for you in a seat like yours, because that's the pitch that it's going to be a problem for you in the Hunter?
FITZGIBBON: Well, I will get to that PK, but it's a bigger problem for the Prime Minister who has now been sort of crab walking towards zero net emissions by 2050. And now he has, as the leader of his Coalition partners, someone who is not a fan at all of zero net emissions by 2050, to understate it. So this is going to be a huge management issue for the Prime Minister. Now, Barnaby Joyce is nothing if not unpredictable. And we know – we don't know yet how hard he will go on this issue. And of course, we'll never know what the secret Coalition agreement says. So, big problem for the Prime Minister on that front, but you pose the question, you know, why did they elect Barnaby Joyce today? They elected Barnaby Joyce because regardless of what happens in the national picture, and remember, a lot of this stuff is happening inside the bubble, they took the view that he gave them a better chance in the seats, the electorates that really matter for the National Party – Central Queensland, for example. So, that's why they made the move. And it becomes a question as to how well they can continue to speak out of both sides of their mouths. You know, the National Party saying one thing in Central Queensland while Scott Morrison says something in Sydney and Melbourne. Now, that will be the big test for them politically. And it's going to be a difficult challenging act for the Prime Minister.
KARVELAS: All right, we have to leave it there. But I've enjoyed both of your company enormously. Thanks for joining me.
FALINSKI: Thanks PK. Thanks Joel.
FITZGIBBON: Thanks PK.