Sky News Interview: AM Agenda: Climate Change Policy, Domestic Violence



SUBJECTS: Climate Change Policy, Domestic Violence 

ANNELISE NIELSON, HOST: Well, we’re joined now by our political panel, Labor MP Peter Khalil and Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson. Thank you for your time. 

PETER KHALIL, MP: Good morning. 


NIELSON: Now, we’ve already had one stoush between two parliamentary colleagues this morning, with Barnaby Joyce and Joel Fitzgibbon going head to head over this. 

HENDERSON: Hopefully, Peter will be a lot more sensible when it comes to standing up for our coal-workers and our entire economy. 

KHALIL: And I would hope Sarah you wouldn’t be as belligerent as Barnaby [Joyce] with a bit of ‘biffo’ out there in the corridor. We could be a bit more civil in our discussion I think. 

HENDERSON: You want to try a bit of ‘biffo’, bring it on. 

KHALIL: Okay, well, there you go. 

NIELSONFirst swing for Peter. Why is 2050 target not going to cost coal-workers’ jobs? 

KHALIL: Well what the important point here that the government is not answering is what the cost of not taking action. And we’ve got evidence from the Global Energy Commission on Climate and Energy, which is a group of economic institutes and research institutes globally. The CSIRO, Melbourne University, many institutions and researchers, who’ve pointed out the fact that if we don’t get below 2% in global warming, if we don’t meet those commitments, we’re looking at a hit to the global economy of between 15 and 25%. Now that means $12 trillion in stranded assets. It could cost Australia up to $2.7 trillion by 2050 if we do nothing. And what does the opportunity cost if we don’t take action? What about the jobs that we would have? We’re talking about a million jobs in Australia. We’re talking about $435 billion into the Australian economy with our input into renewables. And this government – I’ll tell you why they’re not actually answering that question, Annelise. Because they are just tearing themselves apart. They’ve got climate change deniers in the Liberal party room, and in the National party room who are hijacking this government and have been doing so for years now. 

NIELSON: Can we just get to the cost question though, because this is the thing that’s plagued Labor. 

KHALIL: I just talked about costs. Yeah. 

NIELSON: You talked about the cost of inaction. Why can you quantify the cost of inaction but not the cost of action? 

KHALIL: Well the cost of inaction and the opportunity cost is what this government is not answering. We’re talking trillions of dollars. 

NIELSON: And you’re saying they are quantifiable. 

KHALIK: They are quantifiable. 

NIELSON: Then why can’t you quantify the costs? 

HENDERSON: I think that’s the bottom line Annelise, is that the Labor party has no plan and this is an uncosted, unfunded plan. This is a slogan, not a plan. And in fact, what the Labor party is ignoring is that under our policies, we will be delivering 40% of renewable power, as a proportion of total power, in this country by 2030. So our policies are delivering massive investment in renewables, in wind and solar. And the big challenge actually, is to keep the power grid stable, and of course, to ensure there is enough ‘dispatchable’ power. That’s why coal and gas is so important. 

KHALIL: Well Sarah, you – 

NIELSON: And look at what is…Just let me make this point, Peter, 

KHALIL: Sure. 

HENDERSON: Look at what is happening in Victoria. The Victorian Government not only has shut down Hazelwood, but is now locking up conventional gas onshore, which is an absolute disgrace. So under Labor we saw Bill Shorten’s car crash of a policy. You know, what costs to our children’s future? It was uncosted and unfunded. There was no plan, and Australians rejected this. And I think this plan, this so-called plan, which is nothing more than a slogan, is worse. 

KHALIL: Sarah, seventy-three countries have a net zero emissions target. Every state and territory, including Liberal Governments, in this country, have a net zero target. We have every major company in Australia having a net zero target. We have the Australian Meat and Livestock having a net zero target by 2030, as does the National Farmers Federation, by 2030. They know where we need to go. They know that there are millions of jobs here that would be absolutely fundamental to Australia’s future if we meet those targets, if we move in that direction. And this government, your government – and you talk about failing to have a plan or slogans – you have had, what, five or six energy policies that have all been hijacked in your party room, because of climate change deniers like Craig Kelly and some of the Nats, who have actually blown them up. And we have had inaction. We have had nothing happening for seven years. It’s time to get this done, Sarah. 

HENDERSON: We are agnostic, technology agnostic. What is important is that we are driving investment in renewals. The statistics speak for themselves. 16% of the supply last year. 27% of renewables, hang on Peter, by 2022. And 40% by 2030. So our policies are actually delivering a massive investment in renewables. 

KHALIL: No, that’s not true. 

HENDERSON: The Energy Security Board, even now today in the front page of the Fin review, is talking about the stability of the power grid. That is what’s critical. We are meeting our Paris targets, but what you want to do –  


Well actually you are not, you are using carryover credits and you are cheating. That’s not acting. 

HENDERSON: – what you want to do is smash our cement industry, our aluminium industry, our coal industry, our manufacturers, our farmers. Let’s have a look at New Zealand. The really major issue with this slogan that you have announced is that it’s economy wide. So even New Zealand has exempted a portion of its economy, recognizing that the farming and agriculture sector – that that would place them under too much pressure. This Annelise, as I say, is a slogan. It’s embarrassing to the Labor Party that they’re making the same mistakes as last time. 

NIELSON: But to Peter’s Khalil’s point, as the former member for Corangamite, you have a lot of farmers in your area. I know you’re a Senator now, but surely you represented them and they’re saying that they’re happy about that. 

HENDERSON: I’m still the defacto member for Corangamite, because the current member is not doing a very good job. 

NIELSON: Ok, I will put that sledge aside. But you are in an area with a lot of farmers and they’re happy to meet this target. Why wouldn’t you support that? 

HENDERSON: Well, let me just say this Annelise, that’s not the case. Farmers want to be protected and that’s what we are doing. 

KHALIL: The National Farmers Federation has a target of net zero emissions. How can you say it is not the case? 

NIELSON: But if you have a look, if you have a look at what Labor did last time, they smashed our farmers with a carbon tax. 

KHALIL: That’s not true either. 

HENDERSON: And this is what we’re looking at with the Labor party. You cannot trust the Labor party and look at the facts. And I say the facts speak for themselves. And if you look at some of the policies we have in place –  

KHALIL: You don’t have to read off your talking points. Can I respond to you? You’ve had a fair bit of a go. 

HENDERSON:  – The climate solution package –  

KHALIL: Yeah I know, but I’m not reading off them in the middle of the interview. 

HENDERSON: – The reliability grid. There are so many policies that we have in play to drive down our emissions, and we’re driving down emissions in the electricity sector by more than 3%. So our policies are working in. That’s what’s embarrassing for Labor. 

KHALIL: You know, a couple of points. First of all, the Business Council of Australia, which also has a target of net zero emissions – and famously, Jennifer Westacott talked about this on television just a couple of weeks ago – 

talk about the fact that going to this net zero emissions target would unleash billions of dollars. Something like $22 billion of investment a year, right across all of those sectors that you talk about. That’s why farmers support this, because they know what this means for the future of our economy. And your Government’s incompetence, your Government being hijacked and held hostage by climate change denialists means that we have not had an energy policy for years. We have been basically in stasis. We’ve been stagnant. You have fought each other. You’re still fighting each other in your own party rooms. Let me finish, you’ve had a good go, right? Now we’re talking about – and I don’t know where you sit on this Sarah – if you believe the science in climate change, that it will have an impact and is having an impact. When you look at the bushfires, climate change is one of the factors in respect to what happened with the bushfires. 

HENDERSON: Let me respond to you, because you are talking over me. 

KHALIL: It costs us…no, I haven’t finished. No, I’m not talking over you, I’m responding to you. You haven’t given me a chance to finish my point. 

HENDERSON: Let me just say that I reject what you are saying. 

NIELSEN: You have both had a lot of opportunity there. 

HENDERSON: I reject what you are saying. Our focus is on technology investment. We were developing our roadmap. We will have more to say about this target in Glasgow. So that’s very important. 

KHALIL: So you don’t have a net zero emissions target for Glasgow? 

HENDERSON: We are not going to make policy on the run and announce a policy without the work. 

KHALIL: You’re just not going to make policy. You haven’t done that for years. 

HENDERSON: And in fact we have many policies. 

KHALIL: What are they? 

HENDERSON: We are on the one page in the Coalition party room. We know that we need to drop down emissions, but we are not going to turn our back on coal-workers. Look at Richard Marles. What a disgrace, saying it’s a good thing that we’re seeing an end to coal. 

KHALIL: Don’t you dare lecture us. 

HENDERSON: There is the Otis Group. I know you’re not a part of the Otis Group. 

KHALIL: Don’t you dare lecture us on that Sarah. We support coal-workers. We are being honest with them Sarah. We are being honest to coal-workers. You are not, ok. 

HENDERSON: So you want to shut down coal? As Richard Marles said? You want to shut down coal? 

KHALIL: Who is talking over who now? 

NIELSON: Ok, I’m going to talk over both of you, as this is getting a bit unruly. 

HENDERSON: And the left and the right of the Labor Party are in a world of pain. You’ve got one side of the Labor party wanting to shut down the coal. 

KHALIL: Are you finished? 

HENDERSON: And the other side is saying that Anthony Albanese’s got this all wrong. 

NIELSON: Okay. I think we’re both finished on this topic, we’re kind of going around in circles now. So let’s move on to Bettina Arndt. This is a topic that has really flared a lot of tensions that she’s been given an Order of Australia for her work representing women. Sarah Henderson, you’ve been quite critical of this given some of her recent commentary. 

HENDERSON: Annelise I have. I was fairly devastated to read the comments by Bettina Arndt. I’ve done a lot of work in this space and family violence. The Camp Hill murder. It was just absolutely horrific. Of Hannah Clarke and her three children. And of course on the 21st of February, Bettina Arndt made some comments on Twitter and as a result I’ve actually got the draft laid out, ready to send off to Shane Stone, who is the chair of the Council for the Order of Australia, requesting that Bettina Arndt’s Order of Australia be cancelled. Her comments were abhorrent and given that she was recognised in the general division of the Order of Australia, for her work as a social commentator, I think she has now brought the Order into disrepute, which is one of the grounds for cancellation, and her Order should be cancelled. 

NIELSEN: Peter Khalil, do you agree? 

KHALIL: I think there’ll be some good bipartisanship on this point, at least this morning. I think it was disgraceful, those comments, and the Government house should be reviewing this and looking at it. The broader issue around domestic violence, I mean, we’ve had in suburbs in my electorate, we’ve had many women who’ve been killed. Aiia Maasarwe in the northern suburbs, Eurydice Dixon. Even people remember Jill Meagher in Brunswick, which is in my electorate. It’s a scourge and I think it starts – tackling this problem with domestic violence and violence against women – really starts particularly with men. And we have to change the cultural attitudes on how we teach our sons, talk to our brothers and our fathers and the males in the community. Because that shift needs to change, and it’s about respect for women. I think that’s really important. I was raised in that way, with the women in my family, teaching me respect for women. That’s an important beginning.  So it’s on our political leaders, who have responsibility, obviously, in the things that we do and the policies that we put in place. But we have a responsibility as a community, within our communities, to actually have the right cultural attitudes and really stamp out and call out that kind of behaviour when we see it. When there is disrespect towards women, it then leads, and can lead to, violence, and we need to stamp that out and it’s our responsibility. 

HENDERSON: I just want to make a couple of points. Firstly, this is something that our government has treated extremely seriously. Many tens of millions of dollars are being invested into initiatives in many respects to combat family and domestic violence. I will say, and I have generally in the past, been quite supportive of Bettina Arndt, because she’s made the very important point, that men also suffer family violence. This is not just an issue where only women suffer family violence. 

NIELSON: You mean as victims? Not that there should be sympathy for perpetrators? 

HENDERSON: The statistics are that about 90% of family violence victims are women. And so in my previous inquiry, when I was in the House of Representatives looking at family violence law reform, I recognized that both men and women suffer family violence. But I think in these comments, Bettina Arndt has really crossed the line. There’s no empathy. There’s no reflection of the horrific nature of this shocking murder. This is one of the worst incidents of family violence that we have seen. But Peter is right. This is an absolute scourge across our country. We must do more. Together we must do more, and I just do not think that this Order of Australia for Bettina Arndt can now stand under these circumstances. 

NIELSON: Well, it’s nice to find a point of agreeance to end this particularly fiery panel on. Sarah Henderson and Peter Khalil. Thank you for your time. 

KHALIL: Thanks Annelise. Thanks Sarah. 

HENDERSON: Thanks very much.