Sky News Interview: First Edition: Climate Change, JSCOT



SUBJECTS: Climate Change, JSCOT 

 LAURA JAYES, HOST: Let’s go live now to Labor MP Peter Khalil, he joins us from Melbourne this morning. Peter Khalil, thank you for your time. Is this a sensible settlement proposal from Joel Fitzgibbon this morning?  

PETER KHALIL MP: Morning Laura, look Joel is perfectly entitled to put forward policy ideas and a vision that he has about the direction we should change. And I think it is no surprise to anyone in the media or anywhere else that after we lost the election we are reviewing our policies and what needs to be done. I think, you are asking my personal view, I mean I know my electorate wants action on climate change, wants to actually tackle this problem. We need to listen to the science. And the question really is, you know the fact that under the Coalition emissions have actually risen. Whereas, when we were in power last we actually reduced emissions. When we get to the next election if we are successful at the next election, what those targets should be going forward to 2030, to 2050 and that’s the live debate that is happening now and Joel’s putting forward his views. One thing that I will say about Joel, I haven’t seen the speech yet, I am looking forward to it, is that he is very much right on point about the importance of transition and making sure that we have a really good just transition plan to make sure that people get jobs in the new economy, the new energy sector that is emerging with renewable energies and alternative forms of energy because we are the party of the working class, we need to look after our workers and make sure there are real jobs available.  

JAYES: In many ways, Victoria is at the front line of the climate debate. But Joel Fitzgibbon’s electorate is at the frontline of the jobs and coal debate as well. He has seen both sides of this. Now you said Joel is willing and able and entitled to put forward his proposal, but I think what he is saying is that even if Labor does get in at the next election that’s only 8 years to achieve that 45% target. Is that a reasonable timeframe and his proposal would take a bit of the heat out of the climate debate. Now you could still have a more ambitious target to 2035 or 2050? 

KHALIL: Yeah that’s the point, I think the issue that we are all grappling with is the fact that under the Coalition government, emissions are actually rising. So when you get to 2022, this is a long way out by the way, and very speculative but if there was a change of government , if we were successful in forming government, you would be looking at what targets we could realistically meet going forward. So this is a live debate, this is a discussion that’s being had with our shadow ministers, our shadow cabinet, with our caucus as well, which we are discussing. So we will work on these policies obviously in the lead-up to the next election and land on what we think is the best way forward for the nation and for the globe. 

JAYES: What do you think is the best way forward though Peter Khalil? A more sensible settlement like this? Or sticking to what you took to the last election? 

KHALIL: Well I don’t have any doubt about the science it’s overwhelming clear that we act to act to ensure that we get under two percent warming, even 1.5 percent. There are so many different ways you can do that, and because of the long timelines, we are talking about reduction emission target obviously, we are talking about investment in renewables, we are talking about how we transition into what fuels out of coal, we are talking about the export of coal as well thermal coal – not coking coal – because that contributes to global emissions as well and that’s the bigger picture. So there is a lot there that we need to go through. And you are right, settle on a target for 2030 that might help us set up a target for 2050, that’s more ambitious.  

JAYES: Okay, what are you saying there? 45% by 2030 is perhaps too high but you are not sure about the 28% it might be too low? 

KHALIL: No, I actually don’t know right now. We are in the middle of these conversations. Joel is suggesting we have a 28% target in reducing emissions by 2030. Our current policy is 45%. We may look at a target at 2035, we may look at a more ambitious target out to 2050, we don’t have the answers right now. We are in the middle of a policy discussion and policy development. We have to look at the evidence base, we have to make some calculations  about where we might be at given this government is dragging its heels. Emissions are actually rising under this government, and will probably continue to rise up until the next election, we need to take all of that into consideration.   

JAYES: Do you think a bit of bipartisanship here on that 2020 target, might take a bit of heat out of it on the Labor side?  

KHALIL: Oh Laura! Absolutely! Bipartisanship! Let’s do it! 

JAYES: You won’t be bogged under by being questioned on the cost of your more ambitious target to 2030 and you can put more heat on the government about emissions rising. 

KHALIL: Do you really think the problem is that we haven’t tried to be bipartisan? I mean if you recall at the lead up to the last election, there were five, maybe four different energy policies. 

JAYES: Convincing the government to come to your way of thinking right? 

KHALIL: No, we were willing to go to them. If you recall we said that we want to sit down with you on the energy guarantee, on the energy policy. Tell us what you want to do. Their own side killed it. You had the right wingers and the nut jobs on their own side, who are basically climate denialists, basically killed it. They cost under Turnbull and then later under Morrison. We did everything we could to reach a bipartisan position for the good of the nation. And they killed it internally in their own party room. 

JAYES: Yeah look it is a long debate there. We will be here all day. But I just quickly want to ask you about a committee you are a part of, the JSCOT Committee, and where Labor might end up on ratifying the trade agreement through Parliament. I know it is a committee, so please do not give me that line. Is Labor going to end up supporting these crucial trade deals.  

KHALIL: Well there is two parts to your question. The first, you are right it is part of the parliamentary treaties committee, so it is under privilege. The report is actually coming out today, so the suspense, you won’t have to wait that long to see what’s in there. Our Labor party caucus, obviously also has to come to a decision about the support of those free trade agreements. Actually it is really about supporting the enabling legislation which cuts tariffs under those agreements. The agreements have already been negotiated and signed by the government, this is simply us within parliament either supporting the enabling legislation which just cuts the tariff under that. So that’s the decision that our caucus has to make and our shadow cabinet, but effectively I can tell you, without telling you what’s in the report, exactly what we fought for from the Labor perspective. We think… 

JAYES: You are dropping opposition to the ISDS it sounds like.  

KHALIL: Well we fought very hard for independent economic modelling, we fought very hard for, with respect to the ISDS, the Indonesian, the old Indonesian agreement has old ISDS provisions which obviously we want to see removed, terminate that agreement. 

JAYES: Is it a deal breaker though? 

KHALIL: Well as I said the Labor Caucus has to make their decision about their support for this. I am not going to pre-empt a decision of all of my hundred-odd colleagues. I can tell you the work that I did in the report was around independent economic modelling, around making sure that we get rid of the old ISDS provisions on the old Indonesian agreement, under making sure there is consultation with businesses and the union movement and also frankly about labour market testing, these are important elements for us in our party platform. The best you can do in a committee is really trying to get that language and that work and get them into recommendations frankly in the committee.  

JAYES: Okay, well Peter Khalil appreciate your time. I am none the wiser to what Labor might do on those free trade agreements.  

KHALIL: You will find out soon! Thanks guys.