Sky News Afternoon Agenda - 05/11/2021

05 November 2021

5 NOVEMBER 2021 

SUBJECTS: Political Panel with Andrew Wallace MP; WA re-opening roadmap; Morrison’s duplicity over AUKUS announcement; Climate policy and COP26.

DANICA DE GIORGIO, HOST: Now it is time to discuss the day's top stories. Joining me live our Liberal MP Andrew Wallace and Labour MP Alicia Payne MP. Great to see you both.

Let's get straight into it. I want to begin with today's announcement by the West Australian premier Mark McGowan. Finally, a roadmap has been released a plan for a plan as such. Andrew we'll start with you, 90% is the threshold, 12-plus, possibly to be reached by the end of January, early February. But it all relies really on vaccinations, there's no date, do they need a date to be able to give people encouragement to go out and get the vaccine?


ANDREW WALLACE, LIBERAL MEMBER FOR FISHER: Well, absolutely they do. Because without a date, and where they are coming from a situation in WA where they haven't had COVID or any, you know, significant outbreaks of COVID, then what we're seeing both in WA and in Queensland is that those vaccination rates are the lowest in the country, because people just don't see the need or the desire to want to go and get vaccinated. But without that date, you know, Western Australia could become the Hermit Kingdom of Australia. So, you know, I would encourage Mark McGowan to rethink this. You know, at the very least in Queensland, we've set a date of the 17th of December. It's taken us a long time to get there, but that provides the incentive for people to realize that that's D-Day provided Anastasia's Palace, Shea sticks to that date. And of course, there's no suggestion that she will because like, Queenslanders just can't trust our premier here. But at least she's put that date in and Mark McGowan should do the same.


DE GIORGIO: Well, WA is sitting at more than 60% fully vaccinated, there were even concerns last week from their vaccine commander that the state might not even get to 85% due to vaccine hesitancy. Alicia, if WA was to set natural date for opening, would that create an impetus for the population to get vaccinated?


ALICIA PAYNE, LABOR MEMBER FOR CANBERRA: Well, I think it's really positive that we've seen a roadmap out announced today for people in WA and those who want to go and visit them. I think that not having a date, but actually saying that it it's when they get to that right certainly puts that incentive in people's minds. And it's been really good to see, as well, that the WA Government are doing vaccination hubs and that sort of thing to really drive this and encourage people to get vaccinated so that they can open up when they get to that 90% rate.


DE GIORGIO: All right, let's move on. It's been a huge week, tensions between France and Australia, of course, over the submarine deal. We've seen a trading of public blows, text message leaking. Andrew, do you think that France's response in this situation was fair? Do they have a right to have been offended?


WALLACE: Look, the Australian Government will always act in the interests of Australian national interests, that their national security, it was always going to be the case where a very significant Defence contract, like the submarines, was going to cause hurt. We understood that. But, you know, for all those people that are out there, particularly those on the Labor side, who are suggesting that, you know, we could have brought Emmanuel Macron into these conversations beforehand. Look, clearly that just was not a tenable situation. The the PM did try and alert him on several occasions that we were unhappy with where this contract was going. And ultimately, it's a contract. You know, we contracted with the French to get 12 submarines, they were behind time, they hadn't met certain milestones, the contract had certain gates in it. And we chose to exit out of one of those gates, and it's entirely, perfectly legal, and appropriate and proper for us to do that, when we weren't getting ultimately what we contracted for.


DE GIORGIO: Well, Anthony Albanese says that Scott Morrison actually gaslighted Emmanuel Macron. Andrew, do you agree?


WALLACE: Look, I just don't think that it's in anybody's interest to use that sort of emotive language. You know, what's, what's important now is that now that the arrangement has been terminated, we do need to work on that relationship. We need to rebuild that relationship, that will take time, but you know, re-litigating this over and over and over in the media is less than helpful?


DE GIORGIO: Alicia, where do you see the relationship between the two countries going now?


PAYNE: Well, it's very, very damaged obviously, Danica, and it is going to take some serious work. And it would start with the Prime Minister taking responsibility for this rather than behaving frankly, like a teenager. I do feel for Andrew trying to defend the Prime Minister's behavior, which has been indefensible. I mean, he's ended a $90 billion deal via text. And he's then leaked those texts into the public realm. It's just indefensible behavior. We do expect that our prime minister and our government will put our national interests ahead of their own. But in this instance, we've seen the Prime Minister put his own political interests ahead of that. This is damaging to our national security, to our ongoing relationships with important international partners. And it's trashing on Australia's reputation as a country that does what it will say it will do. It makes it very, very hard to trust the Prime Minister. It's another example.


WALLACE: Danica, if the Labour Party want to support Emmanuel Macron and the French government over the national security interests of Australia. Go for your life, Alicia. We'll see how that goes down.


PAYNE: I don't think that's what I'm doing. Andrew, I am suggesting that the Prime Minister probably should have dealt with this in a way better than sending a text message the night before an announcement to the French leader. It's really just not good enough.


WALLACE: That's not right. It was several, serveral days before the announcement.


PAYNE: Oh several days. I'm sorry, several days before, right. Yep.


WALLACE: Scott tried to make that announcement and Emmanuel Macron said for whatever reason 'I can't talk I can't take your phone call right now.' The PM tried to have that conversation for whatever reason, we don't know. It didn't happen. As the French say, C'est la vie. We tried to do the best. We tried to do the best by at least alerting them.


PAYNE: It's not good enough. It's a really serious issue. These are serious relationships with ramifications for our security and our trade.


DE GIORGIO: What about the reaction from Joe Biden to this, essentially saying it? I mean, he was part of this AUKUS agreement, but almost blindsiding Scott Morrison with his comments, saying it was silly to not have involved the French. Should the US have intervened as they did, Alicia?


PAYNE: Well, they are sort of part of this as well, in that the whole deal, the AUKUS deal has been overshadowed to some extent by the Australian Prime Minister's treatment of the French. And so it makes it very difficult. It's not their responsibility to have told the French either. It's not like you expect someone to break up with them on their behalf like like it's year seven or something. The Prime Minister simply should've. It would be funny, but it's not funny because this is so important. And the Prime Minister has squibbed it yet again, sending a text message. And then when he doesn't like what's been said about him, he's got angry, and he's released text messages, backgrounding journalists and giving out these private text messages with the French leader.


DE GIORGIO: A bit like high school.


PAYNE: It's clearly un-Prime Ministerial


WALLACE: Ultimately, where you had the French Prime Minister, accusing the Australian Prime Minister of, the French president I should say, accusing the Australian Prime Minister of lying when there is existence, a text message exchange between the two where clearly Emmanuel Macron knew the contract was in strife. So, you know.


DE GIORGIO: Look, it's an interesting analysis of a text message exchange. We are running out of time, but I want to get the final word from both of you. Of course, COP26, the Prime Minister is back this week. We'll start with you, Andrew, what's your assessment of the Prime Minister's role during the last week?


WALLACE: Oh, look, the Prime Minister has been representing Australia in a very, very significant, multi-national arrangement, involving most of the world's leaders. Clearly, China and Russia weren't there, which was greatly disappointing. But Australia took to COP that, you know, that we would be reducing our emissions to net zero by 2050. And that's a decision that was made by the government. And, you know, look, we will, we are a good corporate international citizen. We have met all of our Kyoto targets, we're on track to meeting our Paris commitments, we've reduced our emissions by 20.8%. from 2005 levels. We are on track to not only meeting our Paris commitments, but beating our Paris commitments by somewhere around 30 to 35% reduction in emissions.


DE GIORGIO: We are we are running out of time. Alicia, final word from you. There's a target now, net zero by 2050. Is that enough?


PAYNE: No. Well the conference was always going to be about 2030 targets and the Prime Minister this week has confirmed what we knew. It's just incredibly embarrassing for Australia. Glasgow has just shown how far we are being left behind by the world. And the cost will be Australian jobs because this will affect, our trade relations, we will face carbon tariffs into the future because the economy is moving on, the rest of the world is moving on, and we're being left behind, and we are not pulling our weight as a global citizen to address this existential crisis, which is climate change. And it's incredibly frustrating and embarrassing for Australians.


DE GIORGIO: All right, unfortunately, we have.


WALLACE: You keep talking Australia down Alicia.


DE GIORGIO: I know you want the last word there, Andrew, but I have to interrupt you because we've got to go. Andrew Wallace. Alicia Payne. Great to chat. We'll see you again next week. Thank you.