Release type: Transcript

Date:

Interview — Sky News Live Afternoon Agenda with Kieran Gilbert

Ministers:

The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business

Topics: Federal Government’s emissions policy; Queensland’s reopening plan; Covid-19 International Vaccination Certificate 

E&OE-------------------------------------

KIERAN GILBERT:

I’m joined here in the studio by the Minister for Employment, Stuart Robert. I appreciate your patience because those developing events at ICAC with Mike Baird and so on, so thank you for that. And just on the climate issue, I want to ask about that because, of course, this is fluid. It's very important the Prime Minister gets a deal with the Nats. He's basically got to accept their demands, doesn't he? It's hard to push back at this late stage.

MINISTER ROBERT:

Government's position on climate. Kieran, it's well known we took it to the election. It's well understood. Though we always have policy under consideration. We'll continue to do that. The National Party have made it clear that they're considering their policy position as we move forward. We'll just wait and move sensibly together.

KIERAN GILBERT:

But the PM is going to Scotland next week and he can't show up with nothing, can he?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Well, our, Australia's policy positions are set by Cabinet. They're not set by overseas conventions, they're not set by overseas travel, they're not set…

KIERAN GILBERT:

[Talks over] Set by the Nats? 

MINISTER ROBERT:

They're set by Cabinet.

KIERAN GILBERT:

It looks, at the moment that the Nats are having the say, the final say.

MINISTER ROBERT:

The Nats are working their way through a policy position, the same way they do with many other policy positions, Kieran. It’s very important we all understand is that the timing and substance of all policy for the Federal Government is set by Cabinet in a time honoured way.

KIERAN GILBERT:

The PM has said he wants the target for 2050. Are you confident you'll land..

MINISTER ROBERT:

I'm confident that as a good cabinet government, with good policy development, we’ll have respectful dialogue between members of the Coalition, which will always bring forward the best policy for the country. Always has, Kieran, always will.

KIERAN GILBERT:

But if you don't, if you can't get this across the line at this late time ahead of COP or the 11th hour, as some are saying, how damaging would that be?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Oh, you're jumping way ahead of yourself and looking to deal in hypotheticals that I'm sure a mildly interesting out here in Canberra. 

KIERAN GILBERT:

[Talks over] Not way ahead. Only a few days. [Laughs]

MINISTER ROBERT:

But we're working our way sensibly through policy. We're not going to rush to failure. The Coalition…

KIERAN GILBERT:

[Talks over] You certainly haven’t rushed. It’s the last minute.

MINISTER ROBERT:

… The Coalition Government does not rush to failure. Labor rushes to failure. That's when you get pink batts, overpriced school halls, and cash for clunkers. The Coalition’s approach is simple and thoughtful. This has got enormous economic consequences if we are to move forward on any change to any of our policy settings. Let's do it properly.

KIERAN GILBERT:

But why do you have to commit to net zero? I know the Treasurer has made the argument about capital markets. The Prime Minister's made the argument that the world is moving. He's also made the point in terms of national security, a space that you know well, as a former Army officer yourself. Why is this the way forward?

MINISTER ROBERT:

We’ve simply got a policy position we took to the Australian people. Our position is well understood. There's currently discussions about whether our policy position should change, how it should change and the process by which we do it. We've outlined some markers. We've made it very clear that in our approach to climate, it'll be very technologically driven. Australians can go and see the technology roadmap at industry.gov.au right now and see our technology driven approach. Australians can see that we'll have $80 billion in private and public funds in our technology driven roadmap by 2030 as we seek to lead a better environment. We're all conservationists, Kieran. We want to leave the planet a better place. These are important policy considerations and we'll continue to work through them sensibly.

KIERAN GILBERT:

You sound quite hopeful. Is the Prime Minister- does he share your optimism?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Again, the Cabinet will decide how and what we do on all policy items. We won't be dictated by a conference or by travel. We'll work through it sensibly.

KIERAN GILBERT:

But it's more about the Nationals dictating. I mean, you keep referring to the International Summit, but what about the Nationals? They’re tail wagging the dog, so to speak. 

MINISTER ROBERT:

The National Party are an integral part of the Coalition. We work very strongly with them. I'm a member of the Liberal National Party, so I'm half National Party, if you like. The Coalition is very strong. It's been very strong. It has worked through challenging issues in the past and we will again.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Do they believe it though? Do they believe this policy? Will they support? 

MINISTER ROBERT:

[Interrupts] We won’t rush to failure, Kieran. We understand what capital markets are doing. The Treasurer and the Prime Minister have made it very clear about capital markets and where things are heading. And we'll work our way sensibly through. And Australians can have great confidence that any policy position the Coalition government arrives at has been sensibly thought through and worked through with proper policy, proper Westminster conventions, and cabinet-level governance.

KIERAN GILBERT:

We're only just a few weeks away from international borders reopening. You've had oversight of the technology around this. How will you ensure that people are equipped to undertake that travel in terms of their vaccine record and that sort of thing?

MINISTER ROBERT:

The Prime Minister has made it clear vaccinated Australians can travel at Phase C, at 80 per cent. New South Wales has come out to say at 80 per cent, from 1 November, that vaccinated Australians will be able to travel overseas through Sydney International, which is superb. We need to ensure we give Australians a credential, so when they travel, they may be asked to demonstrate that they've been vaccinated. So we've developed- in fact, I’ve bought a copy in. We’ve developed an international vaccination certificate. It's in line with a global standard set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation; 145 countries of the world.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Who's done that? Which department?

MINISTER ROBERT:

ICAO has set the standard, so International Civil Aviation Organisation. It's the organisation that determines how all the passports work whenever you go overseas and scan your passport. You ever wonder how they know it's you, Kieran? It's because there's a set of public private keys that ICAO issues. DFAT holds those encryption keys. This international vaccination certificate with a cryptogram, a QR code, if you like, has been encrypted with the same set of keys as for a passport. So you'll travel with your passport, your vaccination certificate in paper form, or digitally. So if you're asked to show you've been vaccinated, you will have a global leading, highly secure - in fact passport secure - credentials.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Can people access that now?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Right now, in fact from Tuesday morning, yesterday morning, you could actually access it. 

KIERAN GILBERT:

[Talks over] Where is it?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Go to myGov or Medicare Express Plus. It'll take you a minute or two, if that. 150,000 Australians have already downloaded their COVID vaccination certificate. 

KIERAN GILBERT:

So via myGov? Or..

MINISTER ROBERT:

Yep, via myGov.

KIERAN GILBERT:

What was the other option? 

MINISTER ROBERT:

Medicare Express app. It’s an app for Medicare Express. And you can store this…

KIERAN GILBERT:

And then you scan that code and then you have your details ready to travel?

MINISTER ROBERT:

You would actually go online with myGov. You would authenticate yourself. You'd link your passport, an Australian passport, or if you're a dual citizen with the visa in it, you can link another passport to it. And the certificate will be produced for you. You can take it in paper based or have it digitally, or both. And that way, when you travel from 1 November, if you have to demonstrate around the world you've been vaccinated, you've got a globally secure credential. 

KIERAN GILBERT:

A hundred and fifty thousand have already…

MINISTER ROBERT:

Have downloaded already.

KIERAN GILBERT:

So that shows you the demand, the keenness to reopen those borders. Are you encouraged by what you're seeing, particularly in your home state as well, now that the Premier has given a date?

MINISTER ROBERT:

She has, the Premier has stopped all of the excuses and I welcome that. 

The Premier's laid out the national plan, what happens at 70 and 80 per cent. The Premier has accepted the national plan, like all other states and territories are doing as well. It gives Australians and it gives businesses confidence. 

The key thing: get vaccinated, Queenslanders. So, 17 December, which is at 80 per cent, we can hopefully bring that forward.

KIERAN GILBERT:

I appreciate your time, as always. 

MINISTER ROBERT:

Thank you, Kieran. 

KIERAN GILBERT:

Minister Stuart Robert.