Sky News Interview with Peter Stefanovic: Climate Change, China and the New Daily

Peter Stefanovic Well, joining us live now is Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg. Senator, good morning to you. Thanks for joining us this morning. So what do you make of that enquiry? Do you support it?

Andrew Bragg It's good to see you again. I mean, the main point here is that ESG or Environmental, Social and Governance risk is a very legitimate measurement and framework for financial institutions to measure long term risks, including the risk of climate change. And that is something that we have been supporting as a government. Ultimately, though, the judgements banks and financial institutions make on lending is a matter for those institutions.

Peter Stefanovic Yeah, but if they're weighing up the risks of lending to fossil fuels, why step in?

Andrew Bragg Well, they need to make their own risk analysis and they need to make a judgement about whether or not it's a good judgement for them to be lending to a project or lending to an organisation which is engaged in an activity which might be a fossil fuel based activity or whether or not that's going to be a good economic judgement for them over the long term, because environmental risk is no different from any other sort of risk, it's an economic risk.

Peter Stefanovic But why step in with an Inquiry?

Andrew Bragg Well, the role of APRA is to be focused on the risk profile and the governance of the financial institutions, and that is their principal role. And that is what I imagine we will continue to maintain is our position.

Peter Stefanovic But do you accept that climate change is becoming more and more important to the credit quality of businesses?

Andrew Bragg I do and I think the judgements that the institutions make when they factor in environmental risk is a very sound judgement to make. And I would encourage all the financial institutions in Australia to consider carefully their environmental risk profile.

Peter Stefanovic Our budget bottom line, it's looking like it's going to be in better shape Senator by the end of this week when the mid-year economic update comes through or MYEFO comes through. It's largely thanks to iron ore. So there's some positive news there, but we are still at record highs.

Andrew Bragg Well, the JobKeeper scheme cost one hundred billion dollars, and that was money that we thought was necessary to spend to keep the economy together. And I think the results already are showing that our economy has held up better than almost any other during this pandemic. And so we opened the nation's chequebook to get us through this crisis. And obviously now debt is reasonably cheap, but we need to have a plan to pay it back and a plan to get back into the black.

Peter Stefanovic Are you concerned with that? I mean, that's going to take a while, but are you concerned that China might be eyeing our iron ore next and might be next on its hit list?

Andrew Bragg Well, I find it very difficult to make foreign policy from the backbench...

Peter Stefanovic But what’s your idea? Give us your thoughts.

Andrew Bragg Yeah, look, my thoughts are if China wants to be in the World Trade Organisation and if China wants to be engaging with countries like Australia and have bilateral trade agreements like we have, the ChAFTA, then they need to stick to their commitments. I mean, you can't have it both ways if you want to be in the international trading system then you have to be compliant with the arrangements.

Peter Stefanovic Yeah, you did mention there that borrowing is cheap at the moment. There's going to be an announcement later on about aged care. And so there's another billion dollars coming for the aged care sector, primarily for home care packages. What do you think of that? And perhaps should we be spending more on that?

Andrew Bragg We're very keen to see people stay in their own homes wherever they can, and then where they go into an institution like an aged care facility, it's also important that there are high standards. During the pandemic that's been tested and it was tested in particular in the state of Victoria where they had the hotel quarantine breach and the virus escaped, but there is a royal commission into aged care, which is reporting in February. And we'll see some more policy advice to government then.

Peter Stefanovic How much support, just moving on do you want to get some details involving the ABC's agreement with the New Daily. How much support are you getting?

Andrew Bragg Yeah, well, there's now, I mean, APRA, the prudential regulator is investigating whether or not the New Daily investment from the super funds was appropriate. My view is it was probably a breach of the fiduciary duty that applies to super funds. And then more broadly, I'm pursuing the details of the commercial agreement between the ABC and the super funds through the Senate estimates process and I've written to David Anderson to try and get that information. I mean, I'm worried about the perception of bias. I mean, I don't think the ABC should be in business with lobbyists. And I'm worried that might affect their coverage on things like superannuation.

Peter Stefanovic They say, fifty thousand dollars apparently, is what the figure says.

Andrew Bragg Do they? Yeah. And I'm not sure they've actually put a number out there. David Anderson promised at Senate estimates that he would provide revenue and they haven't provided any detail of revenue. So effectively, the Senate's now passed a motion which has called on Mr Anderson to release his information. So I'll be pursuing that.

Peter Stefanovic Just finally I saw you launching the campaign in the federal seat of Warringah yesterday. You want the libs back in there. What are the chances of Tony Abbott coming back? Maybe try to persuade him?

Andrew Bragg Well, the judgement for the candidate in Warringah will be one that the Liberal Party members will make there, and I won't make any further comment on that other than to say that it needs to be someone that has economic credibility and has environmental credibility.

Peter Stefanovic OK, all right. So that rules out Tony Abbott?

Andrew Bragg I'll let you make the commentary.

Peter Stefanovic I'm just asking... All right.

Andrew Bragg Look, they need to have economic credibility and environmental credibility.

Peter Stefanovic All right. Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg, good to see you. Thanks for joining us this morning.

Andrew Bragg Thanks.

MEDIA | John Mangos | 0401 392 624

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