11 February 2021


SUBJECTS: Angus Taylor’s interview; Coalition Government’s lack of energy and climate policy; no national quarantine plan; IR bill; Peter Dutton’s Safer Seats Rorts.
KIERAN GILBERT, SKY NEWS, HOST: The carbon tariffs...
KENEALLY: I'm sorry...
GILBERT: That is against Australian trade...
KENEALLY: I just want to say this. First of all. I understand that Angus Taylor is a Minister in the Government but that was just nonsense. It was as if somebody told him to say a bunch of words in random order - "energy efficiency" and...
GILBERT: What was the problem? What was your problem with that?
KENEALLY: Well, I gotta say, it's not that, I shouldn't laugh because if you are a refinery worker in this country; if you work in the power industry; if you are a family struggling to pay your electricity bill; you would sit back in despair watching that interview. I mean, this is a government that's had 22 energy plans, they are in utter divided chaos. Well their Technology Roadmap is a road to nowhere because there is no sense of where they're going. They can't even agree on defining the problem when it comes to reducing emissions. They are utterly divided in their party room. What hope do manufacturers, or workers, or Australian families have when they've got a Minister - not only, he's not even on their side, he's not even really grasping the key issues in his portfolio.
GILBERT: When you criticise the Technology Roadmap don't use support funds into hydrogen, and that sort of next generation energy?
KENEALLY: Understand this about the Technology Roadmap - Angus Taylor put out two years ago his report on the climate and the projections around energy and emissions and the like. Technology Roadmap comes out the next report comes out, it's actually no different. Technology Roadmap actually from this government. It's not a plan. It's just a description of technology that's happening.
GILBERT: They are also investing in...
KENEALLY: Let me give you this....
GILBERT:...programs like the hydrogen...
KENEALLY: Sure and that's fine, but they can agree on where they're going, so they're just describing a lot of things that are currently happening, a lot of it being led by industry, not by government and industry wants that certainty. Let me give you this analogy, Kieran. When you get into your car and you want to turn on your GPS, you tell it where you want to go and then it figures out the way to get there. Right? These guys, they're like getting in the car and just putting in random roads and saying, well, where will that take us? Where will we end up at the end of that? But don't let it end up at net zero emissions by 2050 because then we have a problem with Matt Canavan and Bridget McKenzie and all the other nationals.
GILBERT: The same can be said of Labor in not having a midterm target?
KENEALLY: Oh come on, Kieran.
GILBERT: Why not?
KENEALLY: A unanimity in the Labour Party agree on net zero emissions by 2050. A clear commitment from Chris Bowen, that we will have our midterm targets outlined before the election.  Angus Taylor says they'll have their midterm targets announced after the election - that's his commitment. Thirdly, there are a lot of things happening this year, particularly with the election of Joe Biden, the Glasgow conference later on this year, that are going to define how the world is going to respond to the challenge of net zero by 2050 and you know the only people who are outside that conversation? The Australian Government. The Morrison government. 120 countries, every state and territory. The BCA the National Farmers Federation. They've all signed up to net zero emission by 2050.
GILBERT: On the fuel security front, should the government be looking to acquire a refinery given the departure of two in four months?
KENEALLY: Let's start with the fact the government seems to have been blindsided by this announcement, despite their fuel security plan announced last September, which they said would create 1,000 jobs we now seen it, that we've not seen 1,000 jobs lost. We saw 600 and 300 previously and now 300/350 here with this with this closure of Exxon Mobil. So they're flat footed they've been caught off guard. And no fuel security plan another announcement over delivery example from the Morrison Government.
GILBERT: You've been looking at a few different ideas when it comes to quarantine for returned travellers - does that become redundant though, the things like Howard Springs and so on, if we expand them now, once all the workers get the vaccines, are we within sight of having the solution rather than going and spending a heap and looking elsewhere?
KENEALLY: Kieran, when is this magic time when everyone's going to have a vaccine?
GILBERT: October. They're saying by October.
KENEALLY: The Morrison Government also said by mid-March 4 million Australians would be vaccinated. There is not, that's not happening. We're not going to have 4 million doses in the country by mid-March. The Morrison Government said Australia would be at the front of the queue when it comes to vaccines.
GILBERT: So you think it will be years?
KENEALLY: There are 60 countries ahead of us. I think it is now up to 74 ahead of us in the queue.
GILBERT: So do you think it'll be years before we're all vaccinated?
KENEALLY: I think it's quite likely that it's going to extend beyond October, sure. I mean, the Morrison government needs to explain to the Australian people, which they haven't done yet, how is this rollout happening? I've talked to doctors and pharmacists who say they have no idea how are people supposed to register? When are they going to get the vaccine? What, how is this going to work? There are so many fundamental questions that haven't been answered by the Morrison Government when it comes to the rollout of the vaccine...
GILBERT: But once the vaccine is there then...The idea of the remote quarantining becomes redundant...?
KENEALLY: But Kieran, we've got 40,000 Australians right now stranded overseas that can't get home. And Jane Halton in her review made clear that that was a problem and our, she says quite clearly that the effective vaccine is a long way away. She says, and the rollout will take time. She says the current system is unsustainable. That the federal government can run quarantine, and it should do so to have a surge capacity to get all of these stranded Australians home. She also makes the point that there are facilities like Howard Springs and Learmonth RAAF and immigration detention centre facilities, the Commonwealth's not using. But let me make this last point, Kieran. If you want to bring a horse into Australia, it's going to go into a federal quarantine facility. But if you're an Australian who wants to come into Australia, Scott Morrison has washed his hands of you. He has said: "you are the state's problem." When did Scott Morrison become the guy who no longer was in charge of our international borders? Isn't there one fundamental thing a federal government does - keep the border safe, but Scott Morrison has decided he'd rather have the Premiers have the political risk of quarantine because he doesn't do anything that's going to damage his own self-interest.
GILBERT: Oh industrial relations to the Anthony Albanese have somewhat of an own goal by not giving a bit more detail, costings or whatever else, in terms of that casual worker proposal last night? I know Tony Burke says it's a it's a word for consultation. But, so it wasn't really a policy, it was just a proposal to consult, is that a better way to describe it?
KENEALLY: Sure, and that's what Anthony said. I mean, let's understand what Anthony announced last night was the first plank of our plan to deliver secure well paid jobs to the Australian people. Jobs of fair pay and conditions. Now there are multiple planks to that plan. At the height of it was to ensure ensuring that job security was one of the objects of the Fair Work Act and one of the objects of the Fair Work Commission. However, it's important to look at what the, what the pandemic revealed and that is that a lot of workers are denied entitlements because of the nature of their work, they might work in casualisation or contract roles, aged care workers often work at multiple sites we've seen that through this pandemic, whether retail, hospitality, cleaners.  And so, what a number of states including New South Wales when I was Premier did was deliver portable leave entitlements. So for example cleaners in New South Wales now have long portable long service leave because they might work for multiple agencies over a decade. So it's about consulting with states and territories who have to be part of this as well as unions and industry...
GILBERT: So what about this $20 billion cost?
KENEALLY: Well that's Christian Porter's fantasy. That's a Christian Porter made up. Christian Porter made up policy.
GILBERT: You could have nullified that for that by having dollar figure yourself...
KENEALLY: I don't know quite how you put a dollar figure on, we're going to consult with states and territories, businesses, and unions in order to determine who needs casual leave or sorry, portable leave entitlements, and how where going to deliver them.
GILBERT: Finally, Peter Dutton, he you know the report on the ABC last night suggested, he's given a handful of grants without you know following his Departmental advice. Do you really think he's going to give a grant, based on a $1,500 donation? He's going to be swayed by 1,500 bucks?
KENEALLY: Well first of all, those are two separate issues. So first, there's the safer communities fund, where more than 90% of the grants, went to government held or marginal independent or Labor seats, it wasn't about making communities safer it was about making seats safer for the Liberal Party. And Peter Dutton you can see in the FOI documents handwritten rejecting the advice of community safety experts in his own Department, ruling out grants and reprioritizing them in handwritten notes based on electorates. So he has to answer for why he has rejected advice of community safety experts for communities at risk, and decided to give money to other electorates.
GILBERT: Doesn't a Minister have the authority to make judgments like that? When it comes to...
KENEALLY: Well only because Scott Morrison has set up fund after fund after fund in the budget, where there is very little transparency, some cases no application processes, no guidelines. And several of these grants were given out in the Braddon by-election before the guidelines for this fund were even developed and even after the department said they didn't represent value for money. It's a clear politicisation of taxpayer money. It's taxpayer money being used as Liberal Party money.
GILBERT: Kristina Keneally, appreciate it. Talk to you soon.
KENEALLY: Thank you.