Scott Morrison did the media rounds this morning to flaunt his new climate change policy, which he calls the Climate Solutions Fund.
The 10-year fund, to be officially announced in a speech in Melbourne today, is an extension of the Abbott government’s “direct action” Emissions Reduction Fund.
The Prime Minister says the injection of a further $2 billion will ensure Australia meets its 2030 targets without “taking a sledgehammer” to the economy.
“We don’t believe we have to choose between our environment and our economy. We don’t believe such an outlook is measured, balanced, practical or helpful,” Mr Morrison will say in his speech.
“We acknowledge and accept the challenge of addressing climate change, but we do so with cool heads, not just impassioned hearts.”
The fund will partner with farmers, local government and businesses to deliver “practical” solutions to climate change.
Mr Morrison will argue that Labor’s significantly higher 45 per cent emissions reduction target would torpedo the economy.
“Sure, you can have higher targets. But they come at a tremendous cost. A cost far worse than the carbon tax Labor said they wouldn’t introduce, but they did,” he will say.
Mr Morrison was a busy man this morning. Here is a roundup of the key moments from his TV and radio interviews.
‘THAT’S NOT TRUE, IT’S RUBBISH’
ABC radio host Jon Faine started a combative interview by bringing up Mr Morrison’s infamous coal stunt on the floor of parliament.
“We are allowed to have reliable energy, that’s OK. And we’re also allowed to reduce our emissions,” Mr Morrison said.
Faine said the “same proposal” as Mr Morrison’s new policy had been “abandoned” soon after the government came to power.
“It hasn’t been abandoned, it’s been running for the past five years,” the Prime Minister said.
“It’s been undersold, underprepared, underrun,” Faine continued.
“None of that is true. None of what you’ve just said is true at all,” Mr Morrison shot back.
“We have been running this program, and it’s been responsible for about 200 million tonnes of abatement.
“One of the problems with this debate Jon is that it doesn’t focus on the results.
“There’s been a lot of hot air and shouting at the clouds on this issue but what we’ve done is achieve.”
Today’s Newspoll showed the government trailing 53-47, having failed to make any ground despite a sustained fortnight of debate on asylum seeker policy.
“The figures haven’t budged, does that prove border protection does not change votes?” Faine asked.
“Whether it is or whether it isn’t is not really my concern. My concern is that we have strong border protection,” Mr Morrison said.
Faine asked whether Mr Morrison would have the same asylum seeker policies if they would cost him votes.
“I would,” he replied.
“That’s hard to believe,” Faine said.
Mr Morrison said the boat turnback policy had been unpopular before the 2013 election but he and Tony Abbott had pursued it anyway.
Faine continued to press, citing this story from The Saturday Paper which claims Mr Morrison ignored advice from security agencies that he could lessen the risks of the medevac legislation by insisting transferees be sent back to Nauru and Manus Island after treatment.
“You rejected the security agencies’ advice,” Faine said.
“No that’s not true. That’s not true. It’s rubbish,” Mr Morrison said.
“We declassified the advice, we released the advice. What you’re putting to me is just not true.”
‘CARBON TAX ON STEROIDS’
On Channel 7’s Sunrise program, Mr Morrison said Australia’s progress on climate change contrasted favourably with that of other developed countries.
“The policies we have put in place are working and they are hitting our targets. There are very few countries in the world, I can say, that will not only meet their 2020 targets but exceed them,” he said.
“So why are you spending an extra $2 billion if you are reaching the targets?” host David Koch asked.
“The 2020 targets are the ones we are going to meet. The 2030 targets require this additional investment,” Mr Morrison said.
“It sounds like you feel renewables and renewable energy have a big place in this,” Koch said.
“I just want stuff that works, David. I want to meet our targets and not put a sledgehammer through our economy. Labor’s target of 45 per cent will cost everybody’s wages $9000 a year. That’s a carbon tax on steroids,” Mr Morrison replied.
Moving to other topics, Koch brought up Julie Bishop’s decision to retire from politics at the election.
“Australians are seeing a lot of colleagues of yours resigning, Julie Bishop the latest one. A lot of Australians are thinking that they have seen the writing on the wall and they are getting our early and getting new jobs before the inevitable,” Koch said.
“Julie Bishop said exactly the opposite, as did Kelly O’Dwyer. And yesterday, we preselected Dr Katie Allen. She is a paediatrician who is also a medical research scientist working on children’s health,” Mr Morrison responded.
He said Ms Allen’s preselection demonstrated “the real women talent” in the Liberal Party and added to the women he had already selected for “key roles”.
“We have women coming into the Senate, replacing men who have gone out of the Senate, so we have seen quit a number come in over these last few months, but it is certainly an issue the party will need to address in the future.”
CLIMATE CHANGE ‘BLOWBACK’
Climate change emerged as a key issue in the wake of last year’s Victorian election, where there was a rare swing towards the incumbent Labor government.
“How much is that playing on your approach between now and the election?” ABC News Breakfast host Paul Kennedy asked the Prime Minister.
“We have to make simple points. We have been addressing climate change. We have been meeting our targets. We will meet those targets in the future and we have a plan to address that,” Mr Morrison said.
“There was a lot of criticism and blowback from previous Liberal voters who did not vote for the Coalition in Victoria because of a lack of climate change policy,” Kennedy pressed.
“Well, I think a lack of awareness of our climate change policy,” Mr Morrison said.
Kennedy asked why the government was not setting higher targets if it was already meeting its existing ones.
“It will crash the economy. It is not needed to have a higher target that will close industries and cost jobs,” Mr Morrison replied.
“Labor’s target, at 45 per cent, would result in a loss of wages, per wage earner, of $9,000 per year. You have to have a responsible target that meets your environmental obligations, which we have been doing, but also supports the economy.”
‘HOW CAN THEY TRUST YOU?’
Over on Channel 9, Today host Deborah Knight also mentioned Mr Morrison’s stunt with that lump of coal.
“You were the treasurer who came into Question Time with a lump of coal, talking up fossil fuels. I guess the big question for voters is how can they trust you to turn things around on climate policy?” Knight said.
“Because our policies have been working,” he replied.
“We need to draw our energy from all sources, Deb, and we need reliable power as well as renewable.
“The Labor Party has said to 55,000 people who work in the coal industry that your jobs don’t mean anything to us. Now, I know that would be a terrible message for people to hear up in Townsville. They are already dealing with the floods, and now they have got a Labor Party who wants to take their jobs away.”
Knight said Mr Morrison had been accused of “scaremongering” on asylum seekers in the wake of the medevac legislation’s passage through parliament.
“Do you think it is not cutting through with voters?” she asked.
“I know what the accusations are. I was accused of that when the boats were turning up thick and fast when we were in opposition, and people said we wouldn’t be able to turn it around. And we did,” Mr Morrison said.