Interview with Laura Jayes, Sky News

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: International tourism; net-zero emissions.
27 October 2021

Laura Jayes: Good news – as of Monday you can fly overseas without having to ask the Government for permission. Joining me live now is Tourism Minister Dan Tehan, still in isolation. You really timed this badly Dan Tehan but, look, good news – Monday. I’m sure you will be happy to talk about this, this morning. We’ve been in this perverse position where we’ve had to ask the Government permission to travel. That doesn’t sound very liberal.

Dan Tehan: No, look, it’s great news that as of Monday, when I get out of quarantine, we will be able to freely travel, and we will be able to do so anywhere in the world. And it comes on the back of the wonderful announcement of the Singaporean Government overnight that we’re opening a travel lane with Singapore, so that opens up a wide array of opportunities for us to be able to travel. So, it’s all good news and it shows that the national plan that was set out by National Cabinet is working.

Laura Jayes: What about tourists? When can Queenslanders get them back? When can the whole country welcome tourists and international travellers?

Dan Tehan: Well, obviously, we’ve got to work with states and territories on that, but I hope we’ll see more positive news over the coming weeks. Obviously, the next cab off the rank is international students, our working holiday visa makers and our agricultural workforce. We want to make sure that they come and then we open up to international tourists. As Australia’s Tourism Minister, I can’t wait till that day that we can welcome back all those international tourists — 660,000 jobs in this nation are driven by our tourism economy, and the sooner we can get those international tourists back, the better. But we’ve got to make sure, obviously, that we reopen safely. That’s the focus, and if we do that the demand will be there when we do welcome back those international tourists.

Laura Jayes: I don’t know whether you’re happy about this or not being in isolation while this debate on net zero has played out within the party room – the joint party room as well. But here we are. There was an agreement. There was a plan that’s been outlined yesterday. Last week when we were talking, you talked about the risk of not meeting this target and not going to Glasgow with this target. With this plan in place now, can our farmers, our agricultural industry, avoid those carbon tariffs that European nations and others were threatening to impose on Australia?

Dan Tehan: Well, look, we obviously have to be at the table to make sure that those tariffs aren’t put in place, and the fact that we’re taking that commitment to net zero, I think, is really important for us to be able to do that. Just overnight, we saw a welcoming tweet by the European Union trade representative, Valdis Dombrovskis, welcoming our decision to go to net zero and saying that that will be – it’s looked upon very favourably when it comes to our free trade agreement. That’s our second biggest market that we’re trying to get access to at the moment. So, it is important that we are at the table: (a), that we are able to defend against the imposition of tariffs that will harm our farmers and our miners and our resource sector more broadly; but, two, we can also put the strong case, and it’s a very strong case, that now we need to see from the European Union and the United States and other developed countries that are big users of agricultural subsidies, that they have to look at those because they’re also leading to emissions. And as the Food and Agriculture Organization has said, if we don’t address that, it’s going to be very hard for us to meet our Paris targets. So, being at the table absolutely is essential as part of this debate for the future of our economy.

Laura Jayes: We talked to Innes Willox before. He has been on the sidelines of this debate for quite some time – decades even. He says it’s a mistake to rule out nuclear. Why would you do such a thing when technology is at the centre of reaching this target in 2050? I mean, technology is getting better across the board, including nuclear, so why would you rule it out?

Dan Tehan: Well, we’ve said we’d be happy to have that debate on a bipartisan basis. What we don’t want to do is get bogged down in some political debate on nuclear which isn’t going to achieve anything. It would need bipartisan support and that’s what we’ve said. And in the meantime, we’re going to get on with the raft of other technologies that will drive the change that’s needed. Hydrogen, obviously, carbon into soils – these types of technology that we know will get us there to net zero by 2050. Obviously, if the opposition want to have a discussion around nuclear in a bipartisan basis, that’s something that we can consider. But until we can get there, we’ve just got to look at all the alternative options that are available to us, and that’s what we’re doing.

Laura Jayes: All right. Well, good luck when you get out on Monday.

Dan Tehan: Thanks, Laura, pleasure to be with you.

Media enquiries