Television Interview with Natalie Barr – Sunrise – Friday 6 October 2023


SUBJECTS: Voice Referendum; Green Climate Fund

NATALIE BARR: Lidia Thorpe has labelled the Voice referendum an act of genocide, blaming the campaign for a racist video posted online that targeted the Indigenous senator. Sunrise has chosen not to show the disturbing footage which depicted a man in a balaclava burning the Aboriginal flag, referencing Thorpe by name and performing a Nazi salute. Senator Thorpe has also slammed the PM, saying he wanted to let fascists, quote, “come out and get her”. Let’s bring in Education Minister Jason Clare and Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley. Good morning to both of you. Jason, what is your response to Thorpe’s comments on both the referendum and also the PM?

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: What happened to Senator Thorpe was vile and abhorrent. I hope that police catch this bloke and lock him up. But what I would say, Nat, is don’t judge Australia by the actions of one muppet dressed in a balaclava. Australians are better than that. And over the next week, we’ll prove that. Seventeen million Australians will vote. Some will vote yes, some will vote no. But we’ll all do that peacefully and show how democracy works here in Australia.

BARR: Sussan, what do you make of the division and also the abuse that is levelled at both sides during this campaign?

SUSSAN LEY: Nat, threatening anybody as part of this referendum has no place in the debate, no place at all. And I do hope that the AFP and ASIO track down this grub and lock him up. Because while I don’t agree with everything Lydia says, she is, as well as being an activist, a person, she’s an Australian and she does express her opinions sometimes to provoke a response. But this sort of behaviour is not on. It’s not on at all. And we do have to come together. We do have to remember that we’ll all wake up on October the 15th, we’ll all be Australian, we’ll all live in the best country in the world, and we all do need to come together. And I do hope we can see the Prime Minister say to Australians, it’s okay to vote no, and it’s okay to vote yes and back in that respectful debate and that coming together. I do hope we see the Prime Minister show the leadership that I honestly haven’t seen up until this date.

BARR: Okay, let’s move on. The Albanese government has announced that Australia will rejoin the United Nations-led Global Climate Fund, reversing a Morrison government decision to withdraw from that scheme. Sussan, this was a fund Tony Abbot and also Malcolm Turnbull supported, Scott Morrison ditched. Do you agree with us rejoining this.

LEY: Nat, on behalf of everyday Australians who are struggling with the price of fuel, the price of groceries, the cost of their mortgage. We make no apology of wanting to ensure that every single taxpayer dollar is directed to best efforts. So, the issues about this fund, which are well known, are there was doubts about how well it was spent. So, I think we have to be convinced of that before we simply sign the cheques and hand them over. We need to know that it will secure our region, that it will be used to good use, put to good use by the South Pacific, if indeed that’s where some of this money ends up. So, outcomes, not inputs, are the most important thing here.

BARR: Jason, where’s the money actually going?

CLARE: It’ll go to build things like sea walls in islands in the Pacific that otherwise would go underwater in places where it’s literally life or death. We see the impact of climate change now with fires in New South Wales, floods in Victoria, but we know that there are places in the Pacific where if the water goes up a bit more, then people don’t live there anymore. And so, this fund is used to build things like sea walls, so people don’t have to pack up, pick up and move to Australia. That’s a good investment for our neighbours in the Pacific. It’s the sort of thing that we should do as a good global citizen and as a good next-door neighbour for the people who live in our community in this part of the world. And as you said, Tony Abbot invested in this fund, and he didn’t even think climate change was real. So, I would hope that Peter Dutton and Sussan Ley would look at this and see that this is a good investment in our local community.

BARR: Okay, well, I’m sure they’ll be studying it and we’ll get their response. Thank you very much, both of you. We’ll see you next week.