Transcripts

Interview with Patricia Karvelas on ABC Radio

28 July 2022

Subjects: Labor’s Climate Bill and Superannuation 

E&OE…


Patricia Karvelas

The Coalition Party room hasn't had the chance to vote on whether or not to support Labor's 43% emissions reduction target, despite the decision to oppose it taken by the leader Peter Dutton. Early this morning, the Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor said there was no reason for the party room to revisit the issue…


Angus Taylor (pre-recorded grab)

Our position is very clear - it is we don't believe it's necessary to legislate targets to meet them. The proof is in the pudding. We met and beat our Kyoto targets 459,000,000 tonnes, almost a year's worth of emissions without legislation - it's not necessary.


Patricia Karvelas

Labor's bill will clear the House of Representatives easily, but the real battle will be in the Senate. Andrew Bragg is a Liberal Senator for New South Wales and he joins me in the Parliament House studio. Welcome.


Senator Bragg

PK, It's been a while.


Patricia Karvelas

It has. And here you are. Now, you heard Angus Taylor there. Do you consider this issue settled inside your party or does it need to be debated?


Senator Bragg

Well, I think this is an economic issue. That's the first point to make. The country needs to get a lot of capital in the door in order to fund this transition and so therefore the signals we send to the market are most important. Now there may be a range of ways we can get the capital in the door and that's what the Senate inquiry can now interrogate.


Patricia Karvelas

Okay. I just spoke to the National Australia Bank Chief. As you heard, you were in her,  and he said actually the legislation is important because it sends a signal and it's about knowing the rules. Do you agree with that?


Senator Bragg

Well it could be. I mean, if you look at the G 20 countries, some countries have put a target in place, other countries have not put a target in place. We need to hear from the market. I don't want taxpayers to fund the transition and so we can now do the work of seeing what sort of policy we need to deploy in Australia to get the money.


Patricia Karvelas

Are you prepared to cross the floor and support the legislation?


Senator Bragg

Look, I'm certainly not intending to cross the floor. I want to keep my options open as we undertake this inquiry, which we now have a month or so to do. There are discussions to be had with colleagues. But the key point is this is an economic judgment, not a political judgment for the country. This bill, whatever happens, won't be the silver bullet. I mean, the real game here is the medium to long term policy settings for the country and making sure we can get the capital to fund this transition.


Patricia Karvelas

When you say you don't want to cross the floor, does that mean because over this month you think that a case can be created for a different position from your side of politics?


Senator Bragg

Well, I mean, the point is that I'm a Liberal Party Senator, I'm wanting to support my party, but I'm also wanting to get the best possible economic outcome for the country. Now, this has been a wretched issue for more than a decade. I would like to see us get to a much clearer centre point on the issue of emissions and the transition. And I think whatever happens with this bill, the real game is how do we get more stable medium to long term settings for our country so that we can attract this capital? Because this is a race, and unless we have policy certainty over the long term, we will lose the race.


Patricia Karvelas

Are you concerned that there isn't enough of a shift on this issue on climate change in the settings? On your side of politics right now?


Senator Bragg

Well, I mean, it's an economic judgment. It's not a political judgment..


Patricia Karvelas

Sure but economic judgment, a different one, is being made by some of your colleagues.


Senator Bragg

Yeah, but, I mean, we need to do the work of the Senate committee, which is to look at the issues that are required to get the capital. That's the first point here. And we have a month to do that.


Patricia Karvelas

So in that month, what would you be doing and what would you be hoping to achieve?


Senator Bragg

We want to hear from business. We want to hear from investors. We want to hear from civil society. We want to hear from people on the ground about their views on these matters. But the key judgment for me will be how do you get the capital in the door? How do you fund the transition, and how do you keep the lights on? I mean, all these things are very important. And so we'll do that work over the next month.


Patricia Karvelas

So in that month the Senate committee, you're on it, you're looking at this issue, if the vast majority -- and I expect it to be, based on the conversations I have every day on this program, says that actually trying this in legislation and a more ambitious reduction is necessary - will you see that as compelling evidence that you should vote in favour of this bill?


Senator Bragg

We will look at the evidence we get and then make a judgment about where to go from there. But I've made no decisions about how I will move from this point. I want to see the evidence. I want to see the evidence of how we fund the transition, but also what policies we need to deploy as a country to get that capital in the door so that the lights don't go out, so that we can become an energy superpower in this new area of renewable energy.


Patricia Karvelas

And so do you hope it goes to the party room officially? Because there's been a lot of controversy around that after this report delivers its verdict.


Senator Bragg

Those aren't decisions that I make.


Patricia Karvelas

Is that your hope? Is that your expectation?


Senator Bragg

I'm sure there'll be a lot of discussions with colleagues over the next month.


Patricia Karvelas

Have you been disappointed about the way that the debate has been had so far?


Senator Bragg

Look, I think it's been quite a good opportunity to have a discussion internally and that will continue over the next month.


Patricia Karvelas

Andrew Bragg I'm going to level with you. I am overwhelmed with text messages every single day of people who say, I don't feel like the Coalition got the message on climate change. They didn't get the message because when I speak to many people on your side, the same lines are being run as before the election. What do you say to that criticism?


Senator Bragg

This is an economic thing…


Patricia Karvelas

The message on the economics.


Senator Bragg

People want to talk about politics, but the problem with this area has been there's been too much politics, not enough economics, not enough science. I don't think it's been helpful for the country that these issues have been pushed into the culture war realm. And so what I'm seeking to do is to use this inquiry to improve the economic debate on these issues. And as I say to you, I don't think that the result on this particular bill is going to change the world. What matters is getting the long-term policy settings right. I think that…


Patricia Karvelas

It won't change the world, but it does send a signal. 


Senator Bragg

Yeah. And we'll interrogate the value of that as part of this process. But there is a lot more policy than just one target that is going to be required to get the capital in the door for Australia to fund this transition and to make the most of this opportunity. And look, it is a race and we need to win the race.


Patricia Karvelas

Okay, just some quick ones. Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones has asked treasury to consider the complexity of a requirement that super funds act in the best interests of their members. I know you're concerned about this. What are your concerns?


Senator Bragg

Look, the Labor Party is quickly becoming a government for vested interests. Mr Jones is wanting to hide political donations and payments the super funds are making to unions and his own political party. I think that's wrong. I think he should collapse that inquiry and he should wait until the disclosures are made following this financial year, and then if he wants to change them, he can have a look at what's been reported by the funds. But, I mean, the idea of changing the reporting before there's even me one round of disclosures is, I think, very suspicious.


Patricia Karvelas

I want to move to one more issue before I let you go. We're heading into our news headline. Sam Emery will be cranky with me. He's never cranky. You're a vocal supporter of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, and in her maiden speech yesterday, your colleague, Senator Jacinta Price, said she was worried it would divide Australians. How much… do you find that a compelling argument?


Senator Bragg

Well, I thought it was a very good speech. I think the issues that Jacinta raised in her own community where she lives, are valid issues. I think The Voice needs to address the issues that Jacinta raised, and I think her contribution in the parliament will be a very good one.


Patricia Karvelas

But you still back the Voice?


Senator Bragg

Yes.


Patricia Karvelas

Will you be disappointed if your party settles on running a no case?


Senator Bragg

There's no reason the issues Jacinta raised couldn't be addressed by better consultation and a better approach from Canberra to Indigenous communities. There's no reason that you need to choose.


Patricia Karvelas

But it is being seen as a binary choice. I mean, even your leader keeps describing the need for practical measures as if this is impractical.


Senator Bragg

No he hasn’t. He has said that he was open minded about what the Labor Party will put forward.


Patricia Karvelas

He keeps saying he prefers to do the practical. But there is a false division, isn't there, between the two?


Senator Bragg

If people really care about The Voice, we need to get to a point where we see some models put on the table as to how it would actually work. What are the words you want to see in the Constitution, and how would that work on the ground? I mean, we’re now at the point where we need to see the next level of detail. People have put forward models in the past. I look forward to working with the government on that if they're wanting to work with us.


Patricia Karvelas

So you…have you had conversations with Linda Burney? Because you have been so vocal on this.


Senator Bragg

I'm very open to doing so.


Patricia Karvelas

Okay. Thank you so much for joining.


[ENDS]

Media contact: 

Charlotte Mortlock 0401 392 624

Become a Subscriber
Important News Delivered
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By signing up you agree to our Terms & Conditions