ABC News Afternoon Briefing – Liberal Party Infighting, IPCC Report, Aged Care



Subjects: Liberal Party Infighting, IPCC Report, Aged Care

GREG JENNETT, HOST: Well, time now to check in on some of the main issues of the day with our political panel. Liberal MP Jason Falinski is in Sydney joining us this afternoon, and Labor’s Peter Khalil is in Melbourne. Jason, your party and in fact your state of NSW, very much in the spotlight. This election must be getting serious if you’re foregoing, as I hear you are, parent teacher interviews to be talking politics on the ABC this afternoon.

JASON FALINSKI, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR MACKELLAR: It’s about the only thing that gets me out of parent teacher interviews. And when I told my wife that Peter would be here, she said, well, you have to do it then.


JENNETT: There you go, you’ve got a leave pass. So why don’t we cut to it. We’ve had this e-mail going out to Liberal Party members from Matthew Camenzuli earlier in the day, prior to the court decision imploring members to front now and unite against Labor and the formation of an Albanese government. Will that happen in view of all the built-up acrimony in your ranks right now?

FALINSKI: Yes, it will, Greg. And I’m sorry to kind of take over a little bit, but I was just listening to the previous interview about carbon emissions in Australia, and it is not correct what Mark Howden said. Emissions in Australia have fallen on 2005 levels by 21%. If you exclude land management changes, that’s how you get an increase. That is just scientifically not correct to do. And I don’t think it’s right and Australians need to know the truth: that our emissions have come down by over 20% since 2005. But having said that, the one thing that the Liberal Party will do is come together to fight a Labor government, because we know that it will mean higher taxes and it will mean a country that is less well off if Anthony Albanese, Jim Chalmers, [and] Penny Wong are running the country instead of Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg and Peter Dutton.

JENNETT: Well, we might come back and revisit the IPCC report more substantively with Peter as a talking point in a moment. But it’s been made abundantly clear by people like Connie Fierravanti-Wells that some campaign workers just may not front – despite these exhortations from Matthew Camenzuli and others. This still hangs as a dagger over the heart for the Liberal campaign, doesn’t it?

FALINSKI: I think it’s a thorn to the side, not a dagger to the heart. I mean, Concetta lost a hard-fought preselection. I understand she’s disappointed. It’s human nature to want to lash out at those people we hold responsible. She’s done that to two previous Liberal Party leaders. I understand that she’s probably very disappointed at the moment. However, for the thousands of members of the Liberal Party in NSW who didn’t just lose Senate preselection’s, they know what is important about this upcoming election: cost of living, increasing home ownership, ensuring that we have a safe and secure economy and national defence and, of course, getting to net zero before 2050 as cheaply and as quickly as possible. 

JENNETT: Alright, Peter, you’re not going to be throwing stones while in a glass house, I imagine, when it comes to acrimonious federal interventions, because you sit in a state branch of the Labor Party which has gone through just that. So, can we expect some restraint in your commentary on this court case this afternoon?

KHALIL: Well, I’m glad that you’re trying to do a bit of a protection racket for Jason there. But frankly, the –

FALINSKI: I need it, Peter. I need it.

KHALIL: You do need it. The analogy doesn’t quite fit, Greg, because in the context of the Victorian branch, Anthony Albanese took a leadership decision to put the party branch under administration to sort out the issues that were bedeviling the branch. And here I have a real question mark again around the character of the Prime Minister. How does he justify having taxpayers pay for senior legal officers, in this case the most senior Commonwealth lawyer, the Solicitor General, to go to the High Court to take sides in NSW internal factional war? I mean, that’s another cross against his character. And look, don’t take it just from me, because you’ll say, “oh, it’s all partisan” and I’m throwing stones at the Prime Minister in an election campaign. Malcolm Turnbull, his own Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the French President, Emmanuel Macron, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells – even crossbenchers like Pauline Hanson and Jacqui Lambie have all questioned the Prime Minister’s character. They can’t all be wrong.

Now, three years ago, people saw people saw Scott Morrison kicking a couple of footies around or trying to kick the footy around, throwing a couple of rugby balls, hitting a few tennis balls and wearing a baseball cap and thinking, “oh, there’s a daggy dad. He seems nice.” Now they’ve seen what he’s really like over the last three years – and more importantly, his government’s failures over the last three years, and that’s what they’ll be judging him on. 

JENNETT: Alright, well, to that point Jason: “Asset becomes liability” – is that the story of the last three years? 

FALINSKI: Well, that’s Peter’s story. I think Australians are smart enough to work out that Concetta’s smarting and not to take advice from a senator who got thrown out of the chairman’s lounge because she abused people who were trying to help her. On the question of character, they will be more focused on cost of living, home ownership, whether we have a safe and secure country and economy, and how quickly we’re going to get to net zero and how cheaply we’re going to get there. They’re the four issues that Australians will be focused on. They’re the things that matter, and they’re the things that we’ll be talking about because ultimately, it’s about them, not us.

JENNETT: Well, here’s the fifth issue, Peter, from your side: aged care front and centre for Anthony Albanese’s budget speech in reply. What’s unclear, though, and that was four or five days ago, is where all the nurses are going to come from to have one in each facility 24/7. Are you agreeing with Mark Dreyfus that there might need to be some sort of pause on the objective to have them in place by July 2023? 

KHALIL: Thanks, Greg. Look, the focus is on the commitment that we made, obviously that the leader made, around making sure that you get nurses on there 24/7 is important. It’s imperative. We know the aged care sector is in crisis, so that is a very important commitment.

JENNETT: But by when? 

KHALIL: There will be a challenge in hiring, absolutely. Part of this is around the pandemic and the borders having been closed, but obviously with the borders opening again there are more opportunities both for people to migrate to Australia and there’ll be more of a pool to recruit nurses as well. That’s been stopped, frankly, over the last couple years we have had real shortages over the last couple of years. So that is opening up again. The important thing is the commitment. This sector has been in crisis. The government, the federal government, the Morrison government has been in power for now nine years, and they have run it to the ground. They are responsible. We’re taking action. We’re making commitments: $2.5 billion, extra funding as was announced in the budget reply, meeting all of the recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission and making sure those nurses are there 24/7.

JENNETT: But by when? Just quickly, Peter: on the nurse’s question, what is the back marker? What is the timeline for them to be in place? 

KHALIL: If we win the election, we’ll make sure that we do all the assessments – if we need to accelerate recruitment, put in initiatives to do that. That kind of work has to be done if you win government, but the commitment is there and that’s the most important thing: making sure that we get this done because the aged care sector needs it. The Australians that are in aged care, our grandparents, and our parents, deserve better.

JENNETT: Alright, Jason, because we promised to come back to it: leaving aside your quibbles with Mark Howden and his interview with Fran – when it comes to the baseline within this IPCC report, the latest, it is that there is an expectation that developed countries need to go above and beyond their Glasgow commitments. There is no possibility that a Coalition government will alter course, is there?

FALINSKI: Yeah, there’s a lot of possibility because of what Mark Howden was saying. Frankly, anyone who says that our emissions have gone up, you know they are being political. Anyone that talks about the 28% target without talking about the fact that our projections by 2030 are now at 35% and are only going to get higher. So, we are going to be way ahead of our target and our projections by this time next year. And the fact is, the same people who three years ago were saying you’d never get to 28% are no longer willing to say, “actually we were wrong and we’re now 7% above that target”. I suspect that as we go through this decade – and what Mark Howden was saying, this part was absolutely right – the cost of renewables is going through the floor. We have a program in Australia to get solar energy down to $0.30 per kWh. And to put that in context, your average coal-fired power station at the moment costs about $35-40 per megawatt hour. So, we are talking about massive reductions in the cost of energy. Now, that comes with problems and challenges around dispatchable power. We know that, and that’s why we’ve invested an extra $1.9 billion in ARENA to come up with the technologies that produce that. But Australia is about 1.2% of global emissions. What we can do here is show the rest of the world that not only is net zero possible, but it is profitable. And when we do that, other countries like China and India who are responsible for far more emissions than Australia ever will be, will be forced to follow our lead.

JENNETT: Right. Just quickly, Peter, very last word, will technology get us there? Certainly, the IPCC is holding out some hope optimistically that that it will. 

KHALIL: Well, the IPCC report is very confronting, but it’s fairly predictable. You get this when you have a government that likes, and we’ve seen this on display with Jason ducking and weaving, minimising our contribution to any real meaningful global effort. It’s the Prime Minister who sets some of the lowest, least ambitious reduction targets in the Western world. 

FALINSKI: I just said the opposite. 

KHALIL: The fact is that –

FALINSKI: That’s not true. 

KHALIL: They can become a renewable energy superpower, and the Morrison government is deliberately getting the way of that progress.

FALINSKI: That’s not true.

KHALIL: And I’ll tell you this for your viewers and the last word, if you stop interrupting me, Jason, you had a pretty good run there, it’s a missed opportunity because we know –


KHALIL: It’s a missed opportunity because we know, Labor knows, that we, by addressing climate change, there’s a real jobs opportunity there and we’re going to be making investments into renewable energy infrastructure. $20 billion to rewire the grid for renewables, 10,000 new clean energy apprenticeships, $200,000,000 for solar community batteries, making electric cars cheaper and a whole range of other policies that will make our renewable energy future real. We’ve got a commitment to 82% renewable energy by 2030. We will take real action, not talk about it like some minor parties, and not do nothing like the Coalition if we win the next election. 

JENNETT: Alright, we’re going to leave it there. We probably can get you two back together again in the campaign to kick this one around a little further. Peter Khalil and Jason Falinski, thanks for joining us on Afternoon Briefing.

KHALIL: Thanks Greg. Thanks Jason.

FALINSKI: Thanks, Craig. Thanks Peter.