Interview with Andrew O’Keefe and Monique Wright – Weekend Sunrise – Saturday, 1 April 2017


SUBJECT: Cyclone Debbie, Climate Change, Adam Bandt

JOURNALIST: Steven we’ll start with you. The devastation in your home state following cyclone Debbie, we’ve been talking about it of course all morning and all week. As Tourism Minister and as a Gold Coast local you must be extremely concerned about the damage and that that will be magnified by people cancelling holidays coming up to Easter. What are you planning to do to help?

STEVEN CIOBO, MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT: Look absolutely right and of course like all Aussies our thoughts and concerns and prayers are still with those who have been adversely affected. I think one of the main things Aussies can realise though, especially coming up to the Easter holidays and coming into winter is that one of the best ways they can help, especially those areas that have been cyclone affected around the Whitsundays, the winter period is the Whitsundays peak tourism season. So I would just encourage every Aussie, if they’ve already made a holiday booking in that part of the world, please follow through on it. Maybe put a call through to your accommodation provider and just check if it’s all ok. If you haven’t yet made Easter plans, why not consider coming to South East Queensland or the Central Coast? That’s a great way to have a holiday but also to show a bit of support to local Aussies who are otherwise affected.

JOURNALIST: Well righto. Hopefully the infrastructure will be back in place to cope with the tourists then.

Now there was a moment this week in Question Time when Greens MP Adam Bandt asked this question.

BANDT (Archive footage): Given the destruction that cyclones reek upon this country, why do you push policies like burning more coal, that will make cyclones more intense?

JOURNALIST: Now he did get a prime ministerial reprimand for asking such a question while the disaster was occurring. Jason whenever we have a natural disaster, a drought, flood, or massive fire, politicians say  this is not the time to politicise climate change. When is the right time to discuss the impacts on our climate?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT: Well Andrew certainly when people are missing, when people have died, when rooves have been blown off houses, when homes are still under water, we shouldn’t be engaging in what is just stupid and insensitive remarks like what we saw from Adam Bandt in the Parliament this week. I think this is a serious issue that should be dealt with seriously and taking that sort of approach, I think, just trivialises the debate.

JOURNALIST: Alright Steven what are your thoughts on it? Fair game? Off limits? Bad timing?

CIOBO: Look I agree completely with Jason. This was not the time or the place to do it. There is an appropriate time, and look let’s be frank, we’ve been having this conversation for many years now. The simple fact that he decided to do it in Parliament this week wasn’t about actually having a genuine desire to discuss this issue but actually was just about trying to capitalise on the media interest. I just think that frankly that’s pretty rank.

JOURNALIST: But when else are you going to capitalise on media interest? The media by and large has been ignoring this issue. You’ve got to seize your opportunities don’t you? This is the reality of climate change that cyclones get worse, droughts get worse, fires gets worse.

CIOBO: I don’t think that anyone is disagreeing that this hasn’t been a topic of discussion for many years now, it has. We’ve been talking about this issue for many years. I think most Aussies  would get the connections and also the predictions that are made about it. But I really genuinely, like Jason, think that when people’s homes still have water flowing across their floors and we’ve got people out actively searching for people who might have been swept away in flood waters etcetera, that’s not the time to be getting up and making a song and dance about it in Question time.

JOURNALIST: Alright well thank you very much for joining us both and we look forward to seeing you next week.