questions answered …

Senator Barnaby Joyce

Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water
Leader of the Nationals in the Senate

Andrew Bolt with Steve Price – 2GB Radio – 25 February 2013
Topics: Labor leadership, Climate Change Commission, Coalition Dams Discussion Paper, Murray Darling Basin Plan buyback capSteve Price: Senator Joyce good evening. What the hell are we doing importing Valencia oranges for goodness’ sake?

Senator Joyce: More to the point when the market gets dumped on by the Americans we drop them on the ground, they rot on the ground. What really annoys me, you go to the shop and you can’t clearly understand what product comes from Australia and what product comes from overseas. I think even Andrew would agree with me on that one. I have a right to transparency. I have a right to know exactly what I’m buying.

Andrew Bolt: I agree with you to this extent Barnaby, but I’m more in the culinary way. I was really struck when you go to Italian markets. They don’t just tell you what country they’re from but almost what paddock they’re grown in. This tomato’s from Padua and this one’s from the sunny side of Calabria. It’s incredible the detail.

Steve Price: Have your contacts at The Australian rung you and told you what’s in the Newspoll tomorrow yet?

Senator Joyce: No they haven’t. I’ll bet you it’s not pretty. It has been absurd today. We had the classic. We moved a motion against the mining tax. You remember the Greens said they didn’t believe in a mining tax? That’s why they were splitting the sheets, it was all tears and bristles as they all said they didn’t like one another.  Today we moved a motion. It wouldn’t have brought down the government, just affirming the mining tax was a dog.

Andrew Bolt: Well, it was a motion of no confidence in the government.

Senator Joyce: Actually, it was a motion of no confidence in the tax. So, it wouldn’t have brought down the government and who did the Greens vote for? They voted for the mining tax of course.

Andrew Bolt: That’s incredible. But Barnaby, doesn’t it just underline that Julia Gillard could have had their support for absolutely zero. She could have spat in their soup and they’d still vote her above you guys.

Senator Joyce: They would rather crawl over broken glass than vote with us.

Andrew Bolt: It seems like the last days of the Fall of Rome. I was really struck, why are you calling on Kevin Rudd to take over when I would have thought that Kevin Rudd would maybe give you more of a run for your money?

Senator Joyce: I think he would to. I have no doubt, he definitely would. What I’m trying to do Andrew is this, I am just sick of this charade. If you’re going to have a go, have a go. Otherwise, you’re just in this sullen way, like a sulky schoolboy, throwing rubbish all over everybody and throwing mud all around the place and you’re playing with my nation like it’s some sort of indolent action, like some sort of toy. There has to be a higher calling for all of us. There has to be dare I say it, a sense of patriotism, where you say, this whole nation’s going down the toilet.

Andrew Bolt:  Here I stand. I can do no other, bang, bang, bang.    Can you tell me why you’d think Kevin Rudd would give you a better run for your money?

Senator Joyce: The only alternative is that he’d do a worse job and I don’t think that’s possible.

Andrew Bolt: There’s the sugar hit of his popularity. He might have learned a thing or two from his humiliation.

Senator Joyce: That’s right and they’d go on a bit of a honeymoon. People will forget the past and say: ‘Oh, he’s just this quirky guy and he’s kinda nice and he tries to do chin-ups”.

Andrew Bolt: At least he tries to listen to us…

Senator Joyce: At least he’s not the current incumbent.

Andrew Bolt: If Kevin Rudd came back do you think Labor could use this as an excuse to dump stuff, dump unpopular things? What would they be?

Senator Joyce: The carbon tax would be toned down. The mining tax would be got rid of. They wouldn’t say it directly, they’d say “postponed”. Everything would be postponed. They’re doing the numbers Andrew. The answer said by Doug Cameron when they asked if Kevin Rudd was making a comeback was, “I don’t know”. Well I tell you what: Senator Cameron had a grin on him like a Cheshire cat when I asked him the same question in the chamber today.  I said, I think you are counting. I think you’ve got your socks off and you’re counting your toes and your fingers working out how close you are at knocking it off. Everything’s become an absurdity and it wouldn’t be so bad, but they’re running the country. They do have a responsibility and that responsibility is not being exercised and we’re all paying the price because the debt’s going through the roof. It’s all terminal. The government’s over. Can’t we just get on with it?

Steve Price: I haven’t been able to find it yet, but what upset Penny Wong today?

Senator Joyce: Who knows? Something upsets her every day.

Steve Price: Did she go off in the Senate?

Senator Joyce: She does. She always gets so serious. You know she’s Super Serious Penny and the trouble is, she loves just hurling insults around the chamber but if you hurl one back in her direction, oh no you can trot off to all sorts. You’re just held out to ransom if you dare question her integrity, if you dare make some comment towards Penny it’s the worst thing on earth. Her, she’s impervious she can say what she likes to whoever she likes and she always casts aspersions about Senator Brandis but of course you’re not allowed to cast any aspersions her way. Oh dear no.

Andrew Bolt: Barnaby, this may sound to some people like a hobby horse, a cheap shot, but I really think it’s important to hold scaremongers to account when they’ve had such a shocking effect on government policy. I want to ask you about Tim Flannery. Now, Tim Flannery is the Chief Climate Commissioner of this country, paid $180,000 a year for three days’ a week work. He’s had an influence in persuading state governments to go for desal plants, to build desal plants. Four out of five which are mothballed because the rains that he said would never come have come and have actually not stopped. What’s your view? What does it say about a bloke that six years ago said the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems, that this guy is still Chief Climate Commissioner? Should he be sacked immediately?

Senator Joyce: I can’t quite work out what his job is. This is paid sophistry that we have to rely on these people in the Climate Change Department. They’re sitting back pontificating about the weather. You know, there’s in excess of 1,000 of them and you’re paying for them.

Andrew Bolt: There has to be some accountability here Barnaby. In 2005 the same Tim Flannery said that the droughts, the rainfall declines he called them and I’m quoting exactly: “Do seem to be of a permanent nature”.

Senator Joyce: “And the country is so dry that we won’t get the run-off and the dams in south east Queensland will never fill.” Since that time they’ve hardly ever been empty. In fact the next complaint was that they were too full. It’s just the insanity and your listeners are paying for it. It’s coming out of their skyrocket and going off in the taxes to help him buy his new house on the river of the Hawkesbury so he can earnestly look with his Akubra hat on and feel his whiskers and say: “Oh, what am I going to say that scares kiddies and keeps the cheques going into my account?”

Andrew Bolt: This is important stuff. This bloke went around saying the drought was probably permanent and quote: “Dams no longer fill.” “Sydney could be out of water in two years”. We should have been out of water about three years ago. How long will this bloke keep his job under a Coalition Government?

Senator Joyce: Well, it’s not my decision, but if it was, it wouldn’t be for very long. I think he could sit beside the phone after the election’s called.

Andrew Bolt: Are you seriously suggesting the Coalition will continue to employ him?

Senator Joyce: It’s not my decision but obviously I wouldn’t. I’d get rid of him…

Andrew Bolt: Are you saying there is even a doubt the Coalition wouldn’t send him out the door?

Senator Joyce: I cannot make that decision because I’m not the minister responsible. But if I was, I’d get rid of him. He’s probably a very good palaeontologist. Go back to being a palaeontologist and stop telling us about the weather because you got it so dreadfully wrong. It’s absurd.

Andrew Bolt: Another thing I’m hoping you will change, I was a bit disappointed that Tony Abbott walked away a little bit from the leaking of your draft discussion paper on dams. What was the story there?

Senator Joyce: The vast majority of that work was done in my office by me and the Senate candidate for Queensland, a bloke named, Matthew Canavan. Well, the biggest surprise to me was when I opened the papers, and there it was. I know where the work was done and that’s life. But I don’t like it being leaked because it’s a good policy and we’ve got to do it.

Andrew Bolt: Did someone leak it in the paper to embarrass you?

Senator Joyce: Who would know?

Andrew Bolt: That would be very disappointing.

Senator Joyce: But the thing is, it’s a good policy, the Australian people are behind it. They believe in this nation, they want this nation to take the next step. They know that water is wealth. If you store water you create wealth. They know it’s a mechanism for getting people to decentralise, to get people out west, to get people up north.

Andrew Bolt: Here’s what struck me. It struck me that Tony Abbott seemed embarrassed by it and disowned parts of it straight away and played it down. Yet two weeks after or something it seemed you were getting a lot of traction out in country and Northern Territory seats in particular. Do you see this as a mismatch between Tony Abbott’s initial reluctance to embrace the discussion paper, the draft, and the fact that the public has embraced it?

Senator Joyce:  I’m very happy the public have embraced it.

Andrew Bolt: You feel they have?

Senator Joyce: Yes, but also in the western suburbs. These people are patriots. They have a vision for our nation. They want the nation to take the next step. They’re not fools. I think that what happens when you have a leaked document people get scared that they will be held to every nuance and iota in that document and therefore it becomes a merry little game for the Opposition to play. What I find even this, the Labor Party stuff up. So the assistant treasurer David Bradbury says: “Look this is ridiculous. We’re going to be investing in areas where no one lives”. Is Warren Snowdon now the Member of Where No One Lives? Is Jan McLucas the Senator of Where No One Lives? Is Nova Peris-Kneebone, the new Senator for Where No One Lives? Is Townsville a place where no one lives?

Andrew Bolt:  I’m struck that Kevin Rudd did seem to be saying that the development of the north was a bipartisan policy.

Senator Joyce: Well, it’s become awfully bi-partisan awfully quickly. Then you had Tony Burke, how is this for a clown of a statement? He gives this speech saying that you can’t have both a dam that stores water and mitigates against droughts and used for hydroelectricity, it’s impossible.  We said, hang on, yes you do and yes there are, in fact Wivenhoe Dam does precisely that.

Andrew Bolt: It protects Brisbane, it produces hydro-power and it’s also the major source of water. When you don’t have the water minister actually understanding what dams actually do in this country we’ve got a problem.

Senator Joyce: I had to explain to Tony by the way, you don’t need three houses when you need a shower, a bedroom and a toilet. You can put them in one house.

Steve Price: Mark has a question for Senator Joyce about water.

Caller: The 2007 Water Act that’s the genesis of the Murray Darling Basin Plan which is a catastrophe. Now, that was designed by Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Government. You have to completely trash the 2007 Water Act because it’s an abomination.

Senator Joyce: What we are trying to do and have said: Water buybacks are the death of regional towns we know that, so we’re trying to stop that. The water buybacks are going to cap at 1500GL and they’re already up to around 1300GL so they haven’t got far to go. Then if people think they can get advantages from infrastructure well, we’ll look at that, but I have a funny feeling we’re going to run out of money before then. I have been doing my darndest to try to mitigate the effect of this, knowing full well what would happen if I stepped out of the room. I remember running past all the constituents in the Murray Darling Basin, in which I live, in which I own a property and have interests of my own, knowing darn well if I step out of the room, Sarah Hanson-Young will take my place. They will use Sarah Hanson-Young and Tony Burke to put the plan through and she was mentioning taking 7,600 GLs out and then she thought she’d do us a big favour and take it down to 4,000GL. It was going to destroy us. I’m trying to cap it at 1500GL buybacks full stop. I’ve made that promise I’ve made that commitment. That’s what’s going to happen and we’re almost there.

Andrew Bolt: If these people have the courage of their convictions they should go for transparency, do it equitably and you know what they should do, they should hold an auction or a tender process where entire communities can volunteer the death of their town so no pick and choosing, the whole town’s bought out lock stock and barrel. Do that and turn the countryside to waste. So we can actually see what it looks like.

Senator Joyce: So we can turn Australia back into requiring more of that food you mentioned at the start of the interview. We can import more of that and as a clever country we can stop our capacity to feed ourselves. That’s a great place for us to be. We want to be able to at a basic minimum, feed ourselves. I think that would be a good start.

– ENDS –

About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley)
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