TOM CONNELL: There’s a big Queensland flavour on the program today because joining me is Labor MP, Graham Perrett, also from our Brisbane studio today. Graham thanks for your time. What do you make, first of all, of those comments from Senator McGrath, best person wins. Fair enough isn’t it?
GRAHAM PERRETT, MEMBER FOR MORETON: Well, it’s just that the, you know he’s from the party that when they went into office the Prime Minister, a bloke, became the Minister for Women. So you can’t tell me that there are not women of merit in Queensland, in the Queensland Liberal and National Party. I saw a great woman of merit called Sue Boyce, Senator Sue Boyce, who spoke up and guess how her merit was rewarded. She was basically drummed out of the parliament. So you know I think they need to look at some of the long-term structural processes but I will leave it to the women to speak up in the LNP rather than having another Anglo-Saxon male comment on what’s going on there, but it’s – I think they really need to look at a few of those structural issues because they have some big, deep problems the Nats and the Libs here in Queensland.
TOM CONNELL: Well, there’s a fighting fund going on to try to get some more women in there, announced by Kelly O’Dwyer. We’ll see how well it works. A few problems on your side with Adani…
GRAHAM PERRETT: I thought they were philosophically opposed to slush funds but not that one obviously. So it will be interesting to see how that plays out. Look in terms of Adani Tom, It’s a Queensland project obviously, hopefully jobs will flow from it but what Bill Shorten has said, and what James McGrath seems to ignore, is that it’s got to stack up environmentally and financially. The environmental process was signed off by Environment Minister Greg Hunt as he then was. There is still a couple of other hoops that have to be signed off in terms of the federal oversight but financially that’s for the private sector to make a decision and it sounds like they can’t find a financier. I mean they are all but knocking on the door of payday lenders to get money is my understanding. So if the financiers say there is a risk here and it doesn’t stack up it’s a pretty good sign that there’s a bad smell coming out of the project but if it stacks up and we don’t need to put tax payer dollars into it well good luck to the project. I can’t see any philosophical difference between this operation and many others around the country.
TOM CONNELL: But what about your leader on this because you mentioned that let’s see if it stacks up and that’s fair enough on tax payer money. Does it actually matter if a project is going to make profit? That isn’t for a government to decide or rule on is it?
GRAHAM PERRETT: Well if you are going to put tax payer dollars into a project you really want to make sure that it does stack up. You know, that would certainly be something that any good government does. We had Bill Shorten up in Queensland a fortnight ago talking about fair dinkum projects, you know, expanding the port in Mackay, getting the duplication of the Rockhampton/Yeppoon highway, the road, making sure the Rookwood Weir is actually being used in such a way that we can create long-term agriculture employment in that Rockhampton region. So we’ve got to do our bit to make sure that we get jobs in the bush with the most decentralized state, Queensland. So we need to do our bit to make sure that the employment opportunities are there.
TOM CONNELL: Yeah, and I think a lot of people agree with you on a taxpayer front, you’ve got to spread the dollars and use them wisely but as it stands at the moment, there are no taxpayer dollars going towards Adani, so in terms of it stacking up, it doesn’t really matter does it if they’re going to make money? If they want to build the project and they don’t get taxpayer money out of it then we should be saying go for it, create some jobs, if you want to run at a loss good for you.
GRAHAM PERRETT: Well, there is a process for anyone to, you know if they get an exploration license, you know they send a geologist out, they find a mineral they want to dig up, there is a process there that every state government looks after. That’s what our constitution provides for. Mining is a state government issue. The only federal oversight when it comes to the environment was the EPBC. And Greg Hunt, I assume was doing his job when he signed off on those environmental approvals to see that nothing else was triggered in terms of our oversight, Commonwealth oversight. So they are entitled to do their job, it is not against the law to be a miner. You know mining employs a lot of people, it’s part of the Queensland economic success story is making sure the mining occurs and that there aren’t too many problems but, as I said, when there was a suggestion from, I think Matt Canavan, that the Northern Infrastructure Fund, the NAIF, would actually pump money into the project that’s when people approached me and were very very concerned about it.
TOM CONNELL: I want to just ask you about a couple of other things, there’s been a lot of talk of course about how politicians are regarded in the wake of what happened in the ongoing I suppose Barnaby Joyce scandal. Are you still referred to as an honourable member? Does it feel like a dignified profession?
GRAHAM PERRETT: Look, before politics I was a lawyer and I am about to go off and talk to some lawyers. People make jokes about lawyers as well, but you still need a good lawyer if you are ever in a jam and I think politicians, most of the people I meet, whatever side of the aisle, are devoted to doing the best thing for the people they represent and working in the nation’s interest. But certainly, like lawyers, it might be timely to remind people that we should be only ever working in the national interest. I know with lawyers they have some ethical guides that you can phone up and get some guidance. I think maybe that might be useful. Obviously the best guide comes from within rather than any rules in a folder but not a great month of Australian politics Tom at all, sadly.
TOM CONNELL: Yeah I think a few would agree with you there. I want to draw your attention as well to something I am sure is on your radar. There is a new documentary out that takes aim at the kangaroo meat industry, the meat exporting industry to Europe in particular. It mentions that kangaroo numbers, or it claims, they will dwindle like rhinos, tigers and cheetahs. What do you make of this and could it eventually result in a ban from roo meat going to Europe?
GRAHAM PERRETT: Look Tom I’m from the bush so in anticipation of this question, I did a bit of research and phoned up my cousin, Peter Jones who runs the Dependable Panel Works out at St George. And as he said kangaroo numbers are cyclical. So he is a panel beater and he loves it when there are lots of kangaroos around because obviously there are more cars hitting them and more work for him. But kangaroo numbers are cyclical. There is rain in the west at the moment so there’ll be kangaroos, will have one on the ground, one in the pouch and one along the way pretty quickly. When it’s dry their numbers decrease. Now I was out at St George last year and I had never seen as many kangaroos as I saw in that trip. But, rather than just one person’s observations I think we listen to the scientists, that are what good government does. My understanding is that kangaroo numbers have increased in the last 230 years since more permanent water supplies came along because of farmers. So, I’m very sceptical of this kangaroo film. I think we should be looking to export more kangaroo meat, in fact my dad, who used to be a kangaroo shooter actually has been lobbying his local member, David Littleproud about this for a long time. Kangaroo meat is actually, because they are not a ruminant, the meat is as clean as you can get, it doesn’t affect the environment and it is a good source of protein. I’m certainly doing my bit to help out my dad and make sure we get as much kangaroo meat eaten as possible around the world because it is a good harvestable resource that’s done in as humane a way as possible.
TOM CONNELL: Yeah well we had James McGrath spruiking Milo earlier, I reckon kangaroo meat is probably a bit better for you as long as comes with some vegetable of course. I might just finally get your thoughts Graham Perrett on this news today, Donald Trump and Kim Jon-un said to meet, welcome this potential breakthrough?
GRAHAM PERRETT: Yeah, very much so. Obviously it would be great if he got a similar resolution in the trade war but avoiding nuclear war is obviously a pretty good priority to get happening and sensible people with good advisers meeting will always be better for the planet than, you know, heated twitter exchanges. And it was quite juvenile the exchange that went on there but let’s hope they can find a nice safe neutral place to meet and actually advance the peace and prosperity of all the people, particularly North Korea who obviously they’re a basket case economically in many ways and need all the help they can get. And well done for them to actually, if they can get something sorted. Now they need to work on de-escalating the trade war. That would be something in the interests of all Australians. We don’t want any of that steel that was heading for the US suddenly dumped in Australia affecting our jobs and Australian interests.
TOM CONNELL: Graham Perrett, thanks for your time today on Sky News.
GRAHAM PERRETT: Cheers Tom.