Virtual Doorstop

  • Transcript
Subjects: Travel with New Zealand; net zero by 2050; free trade agreement with the European Union.
31 October 2021

Dan Tehan: Well, thanks for joining me today. I’ve got some very welcome news. New Zealanders will be free to come to Australia, and particularly will be free to come to Victoria and New South Wales quarantine free. This is another important step in our opening up of the Australian border. Obviously, we will be looking for news in the coming days with regards to Singapore. We’ve had that under active consideration. As of Monday, as of tomorrow, Australians, doubly vaxed, will be free to leave. This is wonderful news for Australians because Australians love to travel, and it’s also wonderful news because as we reopen the border, those 660,000 jobs that our tourism sector employ, obviously we will see those numbers grow back and we’ll see dollars in pockets. And obviously, that’s incredibly important for our budget and helps us finance those important things like our hospital system, like our aged care system, like the NDIS. So, the opening up continues. Wonderful news for Australians who love to travel. Wonderful news for Australians who are employed in our tourism industry. Happy to take questions.

Nour Haydar: Minister, it’s Nour Haydar here from the ABC. Could you explain to us what the rules are for Australians travelling to New Zealand? Whilst they’re allowed to leave Australia, will they still have to undergo quarantine in New Zealand? Can you sort of elaborate on that a little bit more?

Dan Tehan: Yes, at this stage, it’s a one-way bubble. We’re welcoming New Zealand tourists, family and friends back into Australia, and when it comes to Victoria and New South Wales, it will be quarantine free. But for Australians travelling to New Zealand, they’ll have to abide by the restrictions that the New Zealand Government have in place, and that still requires quarantine. So, I say to all Australians thinking of travelling to New Zealand, check the Smarttraveller site at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade so you know exactly what those requirements are because they might change over time. But for New Zealanders coming here, it’s quarantine free as far as New South Wales and Victoria go.

Tom Stayner: Thanks, Minister. Tom Stayner from SBS here. The OECD Secretary-General, Mathias Cormann, once again reiterated calls for a global price on carbon to be applied, describing this as potentially the most effective way of driving down greenhouse gas emissions around the world. Is that something that the Australian Government would be supportive of?

Dan Tehan: Our approach is very clear. It’s a technology-driven approach, not a tax-driven approach. That’s the commitment that we will be taking to the next election. It is a commitment that we took to the last election. Technology not taxes. We’ve made our commitment to reach net zero by 2050. We’ve put out a very clear plan as to how we’re going to achieve that, a road map, to get us there, and this will be our approach. It’s technology, not taxes.

Tom Stayner: Sorry, you said that if this was signed up as a global agreement, Australia would refuse to sign up to such a pledge?

Dan Tehan: That’s a very speculative question because all countries are going about reaching their climate change goals according to their country’s interests, and that’s what Australia is doing. We’re committed to reach net zero by 2050 according to the wants and needs of our economy, according to the wants and needs of our national interest and we’re doing that in partnership. We’ve got our Green Economy Agreement with Singapore, which we’re currently negotiating. Obviously, we’ve got technology partnerships that we’re developing with South Korea, with Japan, with Germany, so there is very much an international component to what we are seeking to do. But importantly, it’s technology-driven; it’s not tax-driven.

Trudy McIntosh: Minister, Trudy McIntosh from Sky News here. Can I ask you about the EU FTA? The Prime Minister has now spoken with Emmanuel Macron. Is there any indication now from France and the EU that the trade deal can get back on track, or do you expect this to be a prolonged hiccup in that free trade negotiation?

Dan Tehan: Our chief negotiators will meet in December and the next round will take place in February. So, that’s the twelfth round. But my hope is that after that twelfth round, we can then look to a finishing day, an end game, in the middle of next year; and then, hopefully, we might be in a position to finalise by the end of next year. That is my aim. We’ve made rapid progress in rounds 10 and 11. It’s very much in the interests of the European Union, this FTA, as it is in the interests of Australia. The European Union is one of the – the key component of their Indo–Pacific strategy is to further enhance their economic engagement in the Indo–Pacific. For us, it obviously gives us access to our second-biggest market. So, we want to make sure that we continue to progress this. We’ve agreed the chief negotiators will meet in December, twelfth round in February. And if we can keep the momentum going that we had out of rounds 10 and 11, I think we could still be on track to finalise by the end of next year.

Tom Stayner: Minister, Tom from SBS again, if I could. The opposition has called for the Government to extend the contract on AstraZeneca vaccines beyond the start of next year, describing it as a way that we could continue to supply vaccines to the regions. Is that something that we will consider?

Dan Tehan: Well, my understanding is, I think, our current commitment with AstraZeneca with CSL here in Australia is 52 million doses of the vaccine to be produced here. We obviously have made that commitment because we want to work here in Australia to be able to provide the vaccines, which we have successfully been able to do, but also with our Pacific neighbours and the countries in South East Asia. So, we will continue to honour that commitment. Also, we’re working with the COVAX facility to provide vaccines globally as well. There’s obviously been very important discussion overnight at the G20 about making sure the globe can get a vaccination rate of roughly 70 per cent. Australia is committed to play its role in achieving that, whether it be through local production here, making sure that we’re sharing vaccines with our friends and neighbours in the Pacific and South East Asia, but also through international commitments as well. And I am sure that we will play our role in what will be a very important target of trying to get as many people vaccinated globally.

Trudy McIntosh: Minister, Trudy from Sky again. Can I ask you about the Acting Prime Minister’s comments this morning? He told Sky News that the Nationals were able to secure the exclusion of scope 3 emissions from Australia’s net zero target. Was that ever something that Australia was contemplating signing up to or is the Nationals Leader claiming credit for things that weren’t ever going to happen?

Dan Tehan: Well, look, what I would say is what Australia has always been committed to do is to make sure that we use technology, not taxes, in our approach. And that’s been absolutely at the heart of the approach that we’ve taken. And that technology, not taxes, approach I think will stand our economy in very good stead as we progress. It will stand our regions in very good stead as we progress, but it will also enable us to play our role when it comes to our international commitments, including reaching net zero by 2050, and that’s the most important thing. Obviously, there are various aspects of international negotiations and international commitments that we will take into consideration. Some we’ve clearly ruled out. Others we’ll obviously talk to our partners about, but what is absolutely clear is technology, not taxes, in our approach.

Trudy McIntosh: Was Australia ever pushed on scope 3 emissions, Minister?

Dan Tehan: So, obviously what we will be doing is making sure that what is absolutely at the heart of what we’re doing is technology, not taxes. That is the key to our commitment.

Thanks very much, everyone.

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