Transcript - Television Interview - Sunrise - Monday, 3 May 2021

Transcript - Television Interview - Sunrise - Monday, 3 May 2021 Main Image

By Joel Fitzgibbon

03 May 2021

NATLIE BARR, HOST: Thanks, Koche. The Human Rights Commission has raised serious concerns about the government's India flight ban, saying tough new restrictions could breach international law. From today, people who break the strict rules face a penalty of $66,000 and five years in prison. It's the first time in history that Australia has blocked its own citizens from returning home. For their take, I'm joined by Nationals MP, Barnaby Joyce, and Labor MP, Joel Fitzgibbon. Morning to you, Gents. Barnaby, are these measures too harsh or do you think they're necessary to keep COVID-19 out?


BARNABY JOYCE, MEMBER FOR NEW ENGLAND: Well, after they've investigated Australia, they better investigate that Canada, they better investigate Hong Kong, they better investigate the United States, they better investigate the United Arab Emirates, they better investigate the Maldives, which are thinking about doing, bringing in a ban as well. This disease does not respect the Australian Human Rights Commission. This disease works on its own method and path. What we've seen is in excess – well in excess – of 300,000 people a day catching the disease in India, where we're seeing thousands of people die – I think 3,500 died yesterday. And the Australian Government has an obligation that goes above the Australian Human Rights Commission and that is to keep Australians safe. And if – by the way, after you investigate all them, then you better investigate Queensland how they kept New South Wales people out and Western Australians how they kept Western Australians out and south. Where does this end?


BARR: Yeah, Joel, it seems like, you know, overall, probably a pretty popular move. But was the government shown up by the two cricketers the other day who came in legally through a country that the government said they couldn't?


JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: No doubt it was, Nat. But it's a funny situation, isn't it? All these people who are critical of Premiers locking the place down are now supporting keeping Aussies out of our country. I mean, it gives new meaning doesn't it to the term unauthorised arrival. Scott Morrison often boasts that he turned back the boats, and now he's turning back the Aussies. At least the refugees were allowed to walk free in places like Christmas Island. He's threatening to send Australians...


BARR: So, Joel, what are you saying the government should do?


FITZGIBBON: … he's threatening to send Australians to jail, Nat, for wanting to return to their own country, for exercising their right. Now, we are not the United States. We are not any of those European countries. We have next to zero community transmission and if the government had acted on Jane Halton's report many, many months ago, and established Commonwealth quarantine facilities in remote locations, something mining companies don't have any problem doing, then we would not be having this argument today. Aussies would not be locked out now if the Commonwealth had acted and established proper quarantine facilities.


BARR: Barnaby is it the right we – the only leaks we are having are obviously from quarantine hotels, and we've got Premiers now screaming out for separate facilities?


JOYCE: Well, I think the big difference from what's happening between the states, the issue there was you couldn't go from one disease free region of Australia to another disease free region across an arbitrary state border, a pre-colonial relic. But, and that's what annoyed people, no one had any problems with you blocking people coming from an area where there was disease to where there wasn't, it was just the arbitrary nature of how states dealt with it. Now, the next issue, of course, is that politically, it's just not tenable that you're going to bring people in from an area where we don't know where the disease is – so let's presume it's everywhere – into Australia and new variants of the, of the disease as well. Just to add a greater complexity to a problem that luckily enough we have not to deal with – deal with like other nations on the earth. I wouldn't be here at the Whitsundays at Vikki's mate's wedding if we had, if we had Coronavirus or he could come here and probably stay here for a little while longer, like a desert island, because you wouldn't be allowed to move back.


BARR: Okay, let's go to another issue that's brewing. The federal government has ordered the Department of Defence to review a Chinese owned company's 99-year lease on the Port of Darwin. The NT Government signed the $566 million deal in 2015. Could be ripped up though on national security grounds now if it's found to be in breach of critical infrastructure laws passed in 2018. Barnaby, this will no doubt further inflame tensions with China. What do you think should happened here?


JOYCE: At the time I didn't agree with it, Nat. And at the time I was called xenophobe, I was called a racist, I was called paranoid, and now I'm just called right. So, the issue here is we have to acknowledge that the world is changing, unfortunately. And in the last 500 years, there's been 16 times where one superpower has overtaken another and over those 16 times 12 times it eventuated in war. And, my God, we don't want that. But we've got to understand that the regime in China is a bird. It's reaching out, it's projecting power. It's displaying the capacity forth to stand on that power of military weight and we've just, we've just got to wake up. Unfortunately, we've got to be prepared to make Australia as powerful as possible, as quickly as possible, and having a Chinese Port in the Northern part of Australia is, was never a wise move.


BARR: Joel, is Barnaby right now? Should we rip up that deal?


FITZGIBBON: It's a strategic asset, Nat, no doubt, and it should never have been privatised. And by the way, it was privatised on Scott Morrison's watch as Treasurer. It's the Treasurer that oversees these issues through the Foreign Investment Review Board. Now six years on, under community pressure he wants to do something about it. The problem is Nat, that we're talking about tearing up property rights. This is going to be a terrible sovereign risk issue for this country. We've always relied heavily on capital inflows – that is other countries 'citizens investing in our country. And if we send the message now that, you know, if you come and invest in Australia here, you can't be sure the government's not going to rip up your contract after the event. Now we're going to run into all sorts of problems here. So this is another mess created by Coalition Governments, which now pose a great dilemma for the community more generally, and of course for the economy.


BARR: And what are the costs, would there be a cost involved?


JOYCE: [inaudible] As long as you don't take over the South China Sea, incarcerate over a million Uyghurs, put access roads into the northern part of India, make security claim, make land claims over Japan, over Taiwan, risk - openly state that you're going to go to war with Taiwan if you need to retake it. If you did all that then we've got a problem with you. But other countries who don't do that, we don't have a problem.


BARR: Ok, well look, the whole port ownership is being investigated. We'll have to leave it there. See you next week, here's Kochie.