TRANSCRIPT – DOORSTOP INTERVIEW Gold Coast Qld, 8 March 2019
Subjects: Leadership; Nationals deliver for rural and regional Australia; Building Better Regions Fund; climate change
Thanks for your time. On the leadership issue, how confident are you that you will be Leader of The Nationals at the next election?
Absolutely 100% confident. My colleagues have got behind me today. They’ve said that this story is unsubstantiated. They support me. Moreover they support the job that I’m doing. This shouldn’t be about personality; this should be about outcomes. Certainly I have produced outcomes. I have achieved; I have done some very very good things for rural and regional Australia. You know, at the end of the day that’s what people want. People in rural and regional Australia want outcomes, they want achievement, they want delivery.
That’s what I’m about – delivering. It’s not about the personality - it’s about what I can bring to the table, what we as National Party Members can bring to the table. We’re focused on making sure that rural and regional Australia gets looked after, making sure that we get our fair share for the people that we serve. That’s the important thing.
Once we start talking about ourselves – it’s just so unnecessary. Look, if one journalist wants to have an opinion like that, well good luck to her. That fact is I’m getting on with the job.
Michael, has Mr Joyce or any other MP spoken to you about a leadership challenge or asked you to step aside?
No. No-one has done any such thing, and that’s why I say, the story is unsubstantiated. That’s why I say, it’s just not true. No-one, no-one has had those comments to make or conversations with me.
What do you think the consequences would be of a leadership change so close to an election with the leadership history of the Coalition?
People want stability. People just want stability, and they want us to stop focusing on ourselves, and we’re not focusing on ourselves. If a journalist decides to write a story that’s totally unsubstantiated, again I say that’s more a matter of her judgement than it is anything else.
We’re getting on with the job, as National Party Members, to do what we need to do for and on behalf of Australians but particularly as Nationals for and on behalf of rural and regional Australians. That’s only ever been my focus. That’s the only focus I’ve ever had. I’ll continue to do that job. I am looking forward to going into Mackay tomorrow, looking forward to spending time with the wonderful Members for Dawson and Capricornia, George Christensen and Michelle Landry, announcing Building Better Regions Funding, making sure that the people in the Central and North Queensland areas know that we’re focused on the job – that’s my only focus.
A policy question: Climate change is looking like becoming a big issue at the next election. As a yes or no question, do you think that human industrial development has contributed to climate change?
I’m not going to get into yes and no questions. Yes and no questions – it’s much more complicated than that. But the fact is we need to give the planet the benefit of the doubt. The fact is we need to make sure that we preserve our environment – that’s why I was delighted that just the other day the Prime Minister and Melissa Price the Environment Minister announced $150,000 for every electorate to get in and do some of the waterway protection, erosion prevention, all those sorts of things seat by seat, electorate by electorate, community by community. That’s the sort of delivery, that’s the sort of things that you get when you’ve got a strong economy because you can invest in your local areas. All politics is local – you can invest in the sorts of things that matter to people on the ground.
And people do matter to us. That’s why we’ve helped small business create more than 1.2 million jobs. That’s why we’ve got the small business tax rate down to its lowest rate in 79 years. I’ve just been at the Pharmacy Guild national convention. They’re delighted with what we’ve done as far as putting more drugs, more medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is concerned.
On that climate change issue, what exactly do you mean by giving the planet the benefit of the doubt?
We always need to make sure we preserve and protect what we’ve got so that when we hand it over to the next generation it’s in hopefully as pristine a condition as we had when we were younger. That’s what we’re doing. We’re making sure that notwithstanding the prolonged drought and notwithstanding other natural disasters that we’ve got at the moment, that we preserve and protect our planet. That’s what the National Party is focused on and always doing. You only have to look at the Landcare programs that we’ve put into place – those sorts of investments are great protectors of our planet. That’s why I was delighted, as I say, that this Communities Environment Program that the Prime Minister announced the other day with Melissa Price is going to achieve such good local outcomes for local areas.
Thank you very much. Cheers.