27 April 2021


SUBJECTS: Political panel with Zed Seselja; Social Media; Travel Bubble with New Zealand; Childcare; Climate Change.
STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: It's time for our regular Tuesday political panel. I'm getting, I forget what day it is because I wasn't here yesterday. Joining us on the line is the Labor Member for Canberra, Alicia Payne. Alicia, good morning.
CENATIEMPO: And from the other side, Zed Seselja, ACT Liberal Senator and Minister for International Development and the Pacific. Zed, good morning.
ZED SESELJA, LIBERAL SENATOR FOR THE ACT: Morning, Stephen. Good morning, Alicia.
PAYNE: Morning Zed.
CENATIEMPO: Now Alicia, I just want to ask your opinion on this. I mean, and we can all disagree with Craig Kelly as much as we like. But we've got to be concerned when Facebook decides who should have a voice and who shouldn't?
PAYNE: Well, I think this is an issue around health advice, though. I think it's very important that any misinformation that is potentially damaging isn't allowed on Facebook. So I'm going to respectfully disagree with you, Stephen.
CENATIEMPO: But my question, Zed, is who is Facebook to decide what's misinformation?
SESELJA: Yeah, look, I think, I think we should be a bit concerned. I mean, I agree with a lot of your editorial. I mean, there's a lot that I would disagree with Craig on. But you know, in the end, do we start deplatforming people across the board when they say something we disagree with? We should be arguing, we should be having the arguments when people get it wrong. So I'm not a fan of deplatforming. I think Facebook and the large tech companies need to be careful if they're going to start editorialising in a way where they are actually censoring content consistently, then, of course, the flip side of that is they should then become responsible for a lot of content that is on Facebook, which of course is something they probably wouldn't want to see, because it brings with it all sorts of responsibilities that other publishers have, in other parts of media.
CENATIEMPO: It's certainly having a bet each way. Now Zed, you've just returned from a trip to New Zealand, the travel bubble is now open and the Pacific vaccine is, the rollout is continuing along in the Pacific. This, my question, and I was talking to a travel operator on the weekend because I've just come back from a trip myself. We're still not opening up cruise line or cruises around New Zealand etc. Is this travel bubble fair dinkum? Or is it still just a limited way of pretending that we're getting back into the things?
SESELJA: Well, no, it is fair dinkum. I mean, it is a step by step and a cautious approach. But I think that the travel bubble with New Zealand is critically important. I mean, obviously huge numbers of New Zealanders who live in Australia and huge amounts of travel that ordinarily happens between Australia and New Zealand. So it's great that a lot of family and friends can be reunited. Certainly, I really enjoyed the opportunity to go over and meet with New Zealand counterparts last week along with Marise Payne, and really talk about the importance of our relationship with New Zealand. But, of course, the hope, and what we would be striving for is as we as we prove that it works between Australia and New Zealand over a period of time, we can look at other parts of the Pacific and then obviously down the track other parts of the world.
CENATIEMPO: Alicia, I want to talk to you and this is something that obviously is probably front of mind for you more than many other people, the Government's considering reforms to childcare and parental leave, which is aimed at helping more women returned to or remain in the workforce. What are your thoughts on this proposal?
PAYNE: Well, it's always good to see the Government picking up on our ideas, and using our ideas. So we would welcome absolutely investment in childcare. We announced our policy back in October last year, and our policy would see 97% of families who use childcare better off. That's actually anyone earning up to around $500,000 a year as a family. So it's not a social security policy, it's an economic policy, and it's about making sure that many families can access childcare and get back into the workforce, particularly as we're trying to recover from the pandemic.
CENATIEMPO: Zed, the argument, the flip side of the argument of that is is that somebody that's earning $50,000 a year is effectively subsidising somebody that could be earning $250,000 a year for their childcare. It's a fine line, isn't it?
SESELJA: Yeah. So what we, what our approach to childcare has been is that we changed the rules a number of years ago where the lower your income, the higher the level of subsidy, the higher the percentage up to around 80 plus percent of your childcare fees. And the Labor Party's policy they've put forward is about extending it to, you know, and giving very large subsidies to families on half a million dollars a year, which isn't our focus. And I'd make this point as we see our economic recovery occurring, one of the things that's happened under our policies, which is really pleasing is we are seeing record female workforce participation, around 62%, 61.8% I think, so the highest it's ever been. So the policies we're putting in place, very much targeted at lower middle income earners to get back into the workforce to get that support, where they where they need to and it is working and obviously any any future policies that we take forward, we'll, we'll build on that approach.
CENATIEMPO: Alicia, energy and emissions reduction are fairly high on the agenda. The Prime Minister has just attended, well virtually attended, I should say, US President Joe Biden's Climate Summit. I get the impression that a lot of nations like particularly like the US and Australia, we're creating targets we're never going to be able to achieve. But more importantly, letting China get off the hook with effectively doing nothing for a lot longer than. We're putting ourselves behind the eight ball, aren't we from an economic perspective?
PAYNE: No, well, Joe Biden has said that, absolutely, the targets need to be achievable. And he's putting a trillion dollars behind his commitments. So I think it was a really missed opportunity for Australia that Scott Morrison didn't bring anything new to that summit. I think we're increasingly an embarrassment on the world stage, in that we, you know, the Government is missing an opportunity here. So, last week I attended a forum organised by Chris Bowen, with leaders from the renewable energy sector, to talk about the ideas and the jobs that can come from transitioning to a more sustainable economy. And that's what we should be doing. I mean, the jobs in the fossil fuels industry will not last, that is an economic reality. And the Government are lying to those people if they're not saying no, these jobs are going, and looking at the alternatives and offering people a future. And that's what Labor is doing.
CENATIEMPO: But Zed, I mean, those jobs, yes, eventually will disappear. But we're talking 50 or 100 years down the track. I mean, it's one thing to say we need to transition to renewable energy, and we will eventually, but we can't cut off our nose to spite our face.
SESELJA: Well, I mean, there we had another example of Alicia on behalf of Labor Party, I think giving a very different message in Canberra, perhaps than is being given in, in regional areas, such as the Upper Hunter right now by the Labor Party, saying that they're going to support jobs in coal and other places. But Labor keeps, you know, talking Australia down despite the fact that our performance continues to outstrip most developed nations. I mean, these are the facts. So when we commit to targets as we have, we meet them and we beat them. So many other countries are not beating them. And if you look at our performance, we've been able to build our economy, have investment in the resources sector, have investment in renewables and see really significant reductions in our emissions, as I say about double what the average advanced economy is doing. So you know, Labor can talk us down, but we'll look at what we're actually achieving, the investments we're actually making, rather than what some countries do, which is commit to faraway targets as the Labor Party tends to do, that they never reach.
CENATIEMPO: I don't know how you two do it, but you always somehow convinced me to give you five minutes more than I actually should. Alicia, great to speak this morning.
PAYNE: Thanks, Stephen.
CENATIEMPO: Zed. Good to talk to you this morning.
SESELJA: Thanks. Thanks, Stephen, thanks Alicia.
CENATIEMPO: Labor Member for Canberra, Alicia Payne and ACT Liberal Senator, Zed Seselja.