DAVID KOCH, HOST: Now, the border battle between the states and the Commonwealth is heating up again after the Prime Minister made it very clear he thought state borders should reopen by Christmas.
SCOTT MORRISON, PRIME MINISTER: Once you get to 80 per cent of your population that's vaccinated, well, it's very clear, I can't see any reason why Australians should be kept from each other.
KOCH: But Queensland's Deputy Premier fired back, saying Scott Morrison should be more focused on the current health of people in New South Wales and Victoria than what happens in 90 days’ time.
BARR: For more, we're joined by Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, and Labor MP, Joel Fitzgibbon. Good morning, Gents. Barnaby, at the end of the day, the states are in control of those borders. Why is the PM still trying to tell the Premiers what to do?
BARNABY JOYCE, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Because just as you saw, if you want a whole heap of businesses on the Gold Coast, just for one, to go broke? Well, this is the way to do it. If the Premier just believes that she's going to live in economic isolation, if she's going to give no hope to those businesses, if she says to people financing those businesses; well, it's looking pretty dire, I don't know whether you're a secure risk any more than this, how she does it. Obviously the Premier has decided that she knows better than the Doherty Institute. That's the remarkable thing. I didn't know she was an immunologist. I didn't know she was so expert in virology. I didn't know her epidemiology was so up to speed, that she's prepared to put her views ahead of the Doherty Institute and send businesses broke. Queensland is not locking people out anymore, they're locking their own people in and they're locking in the opportunities so that businesses do not have the capacity to stand up over Christmas, make a buck, and recoup the losses that they've suffered through this pandemic.
DAVID KOCH, HOST: Yep. And keep employing staff as well. They're the big casualty. Joel, Queensland and WA, both Labor states, have taken a hardest stance on this issue. How much of this disagreement is all about politics and popularity?
JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: I too would like to see the states stick to the national plan, Kochie, and I feel for all those doing it tough in Queensland in particular, and there are a few people doing it tough in Western Australia, as well, who aren't able to get hold of the labour force that they need. But these aren't irrational decisions by the Premiers. I mean, one held an AFL Grand Final on the weekend, and in Queensland, of course, they will host the NRL Grand Final this coming weekend. Their communities are free to roam. They're in the pub, they're in the clubs, they're doing normal things. So you can understand the position of the Premiers. I think the best thing Scott Morrison could do is help those states who are very low in relative terms on their vaccination numbers. So let's help these states lift those numbers and you might get these states opening up to the rest of the country earlier.
BARR: Yeah, a lot of people in those states still support their Premiers, don't they. On another topic, the Prime Minister says Australia needs to get to net zero emissions by 2050. Barnaby, what still needs to happen before you'll commit to that target. And how are those talks with Scott Morrison going?
JOYCE: Well, we've got to make sure that the... the nature of the economy in regional areas is different to the cities. There are no coal mining industry in, I don't know, in Woolwich. So, we have to make sure that we're protecting the jobs, we have to, in the same breath, understand that we are actually protecting the economy. Our largest export in this nation is fossil fuels. If people move away from it, then you have to move away from some of the support that comes in the way of pensions, or health care, NDIS because the money just won't be there. We acknowledge that basically, if the world moves on from such things as fossil fuel, you'll tell it by the lack of boats in Gladstone harbour and off Newcastle and off Hay Point. But the world is not. We're selling coal at record amounts, at a record price. And this is bringing in billions of dollars of revenue to support so much of the social infrastructure in this nation. Likewise, we've got to make sure that people always talk about the National Party is the party of farmers and we are, but about 12 per cent of our constituency in this electorate are farmers, so 78 per cent are not. And we've got to make sure that businesses, just like what's happening there in the Gold Coast, that we don't crucify those businesses, that they stay vibrant, that they keep going. You know, this is one where we want prudence and logic and not sort of arbitrary glossy terms that people can say, and the unfortunate thing about Australia is we're so honorable, we stick to them. Other countries are going to say yes, and then forget about it by the time they get on the plane. It's an irrelevance to them. They just say yes, to get you out of their hair. For us, we have to deal with the consequences and we've been bitten once before with the Kyoto Protocol, and we don't intend to for it to happen again. And first and foremost, the Nationals Party Room is crucial to this more than the views of just myself.
DAVID KOCH, HOST: Okay, but Joel, last week the Treasurer warned our economy will suffer if the rest of the world sees we don't have net zero commitment. How damaging has this debate around climate change action been for Australia?
FITZGIBBON: Well, Kochie, the government is at war with itself. Scott Morrison relies on the National Party to form a government and he's now at war with the party. And in fact, the National Party is at war with itself. One former Minister has already left the party room. And I'm sure plenty on the right of the debate are threatening to do otherwise. And why? Because the government hasn't been able to or willing to do what most have done around the world and what most big companies have done, and that is to commit to net zero emissions by 2050. It's not such a hard thing to do when we can build a consensus on that issue here in Australia, we can all move forward and get an orderly path to that objective without doing any harm to our local economies.
BARR: And the race is on to get...
JOYCE: ... Well, I disagree. If you want to see, if you want to see what happens when you get it wrong, and other countries who thought they'd follow an orderly path, look at the energy crisis in the UK and Europe. Six-fold increase in gas prices in 12 months in England, 250 per cent on the start of the year, 850,000 people at night...
FITZGIBBON: ... [inaudible]
KOCH: We'll have to leave it there because we're running out of time, you've both put your point.