Television interview – ABC Afternoon Briefing 19 October


MATTHEW DORAN, HOST: Joining us now from Sydney is the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, Patrick Gorman. Patrick Gorman, welcome to Afternoon Briefing. So is it the BOM? Is it the Bureau? What is it?

PATRICK GORMAN, ASSISTANT MINISTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER: It’s the BOM. Australians love a nickname. We had a former Prime Minister who gave himself a nickname, but I think when it comes to the BOM, they earned that nickname. They should be proud of it and embrace it. Obviously, the Environment Minister is reviewing all of the circumstances that led to this not ideally timed announcement, but, yeah, I don’t think the BOM is going to get away from their name anytime soon. And I checked the app on my phone before coming on air. It was still the BOM Weather then and I imagine it will be for many years to come.

DORAN: It’s an app that gets a pretty heavy workout on my phone. We have had some of those cost breakdowns come through this afternoon. The total cost: $220,296. Do you think we’d be talking about this with such vigour if it wasn’t for the fact that we’re in a weather crisis with all this flooding at the moment? Or would it still to use that other great Australian colloquialism – do you think it wouldn’t pass the pub test, even in fair weather situations?

GORMAN: Well, I think if we’re going to start using such colloquialisms, I would say that the former government should have seen the storm cloud coming on this one. Obviously, there is a large amount of money that was spent under the former government. The Environment Minister under the new government is now looking into that matter, the circumstances around it. But obviously there are people who are relying on that app and the work that our meteorologists do. It is incredibly important work, not just for communities who might be feeling the impacts of flood or severe weather events. Really important for our farmers, people in the agriculture sector, really important for people in aviation and a whole range of industries. We all rely on that data every day, whether we know it or not, to make sure that our community, our economy and our society work so I want to say a huge thank you to the meteorologists and everyone who actually does put that data together so that we can all live in a strong, well-functioning society where we have good weather information. Where we can make those important decisions about what people might do in a natural disaster or indeed make sure that farmers can get the most out of their crops.

DORAN: And it is incredibly important work, as you point out there. And thanks also for picking up what I put down there with regards to using some of those colloquialisms there, Pat Gorman. Let’s talk about one of the other big issues dominating discussion today, and that is this decision to reverse recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Is this a situation where there was always going to be furore based on whatever decision The Labor Party made on this issue? If you didn’t reverse the decision, you’d be accused of not following through on what you’d committed to back in 2018 when the Morrison government made this. But in reversing it, you’ve very clearly angered the Israeli community and quite more broadly, the Jewish community.

GORMAN: Well, firstly, I will say that the Labor Party is a strong friend of Israel. We were, as your previous guest highlighted, we were one of the first nations to diplomatically recognise Israel under Prime Minister Chifley. Indeed, as Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister. One of the first members of the diplomatic corps that I met with was the Israeli Ambassador to Australia. We are a long and enduring friend of Israel and when it comes to this policy decision, this was something that we flagged in 2018. Now, Foreign Minister Wong was very clear about this at the time. We thought it was inappropriate in the heat of a domestic by-election campaign, we thought it was inappropriate to be starting to bring in international politics into that domestic frame. And I think it all stems from that slightly unfortunate decision that former Prime Minister Morrison made in 2018. And again, we’ve been consistent on this. We do say that we believe this is a final status issue. We have our embassy in Tel Aviv and it did not move under the former government. So I always recognise that these are incredibly important matters of state for not just Israel, not just for Palestinian peoples, but matters for the whole world. I think we’ve been very consistent on where we were heading on this issue.

DORAN: Something Dave Sharma said earlier, and a number of current Coalition MPs have been making this point, arguing that senior Jewish members of the Labor Party, including the Attorney General, including the member for McNamara, Josh Burns, had come out before the election and said nothing was going to change. Are they right in that assessment of what your colleagues were saying there, or are they being verbaled?

GORMAN: Well, what we have done is returned to what was a long-standing bipartisan position, which is that we recognise that the status of Jerusalem is a final status issue to be resolved as we head towards that two state solution, which we all want to see, whether it be myself, those that you mentioned just then, we all want to see that. I’ve had a conversation with Josh Burns today. I understand his position on this issue. It’s not the government’s position, but he’s a strong advocate and he’s someone who engages in these things in good faith and I respect his right to say what he needs to say. But ultimately, what we all want to see is to make sure that we use our diplomatic powers and our diplomatic decisions to advance the cause of peace and to advance the cause of getting to that two state solution in the future, which I think the world at large will welcome.

DORAN: Just briefly. Pat Gorman. Before we go, there has been a significant announcement today from your boss, the Prime Minister, about energy infrastructure in Tasmania. This is the Marinus Link project. For our viewers who aren’t actually aware of what it is. Can you give us an insight?

GORMAN: Yeah, so there is already a cable that connects the mainland to Tasmania to share electricity back and forth. We’re getting to capacity, so we need more cables and that’s what we’re going to see as we get to that renewable energy future that we all want to build, is more cables connecting our renewable energy assets so we can plug more renewables into the grid and make sure that we can achieve our targets. Those targets of getting to a 43% reduction in energy emissions by 2030. Our goal of by 2030, having 82% of our energy on the grid from renewable sources, it’s a huge investment. And what we call rewiring the nation is a $20 billion program making sure that our energy grid is fit for the future, for that future of renewable energy and so that we’re not holding back our investments in renewable energy, we’re actually encouraging them. So it’ll be great for Tasmania, it’ll be great. 1400 jobs. It’s a huge investment. We’re backing it and it’s been welcomed by the Premier of Tasmania. It’s a great announcement for all of Australia.

DORAN: Patrick Gorman, thanks for joining us.

GORMAN: Thanks for having me on.

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.

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