Press conference in Moree


This is something in politics, Mark (Coulton) and I, before us Warren, before them John Anderson, all working. If you look at this railway line, I can tell you the National Party built this. The National Party built the Inland Rail. Make no mistake about it. It’s the biggest investment project in our nation. Because it personifies what we’re on about – making sure that we drive the world down to regional areas, making sure that we take the fight up even though we’re fewer in numbers to try and get our fair share.

I’ll take you back to when it started. Obviously it’s been part of our policy platform for the Nationals for so long. Malcolm Turnbull, he wanted Western Sydney Airport. He wanted money for Western Sydney Airport. In the Coalition deal we said, “Well then, we need the Inland Rail. We need that started. It’s got to go from a dream to reality. If you want that, we want this.” And this is happening here. This is a small section of it – 1,716 kilometres of it when we’re finished – 1,716 kilometres. And we’re now driving ahead, making sure we get completion, making sure we get our greenfield sites or our brownfield sites upgraded. We’re making sure that we lock in the contracts to go across the Condamine flood plain, Narromine to Narrabri, get that thing going. Stockinbingal, get that going. Push it along. Get the intermodal points at both Melbourne and Brisbane set up. Bring down the business plan for another 660 kilometres to go all the way to Gladstone. That’s vision.

So you’re going to be able to load up here and you can send that train that way to Newcastle, or you’ll be able to send it that way to Gladstone. That’s the vision that we’ve got. And it really takes tough fighting within government, tough fighting to actually have the [indistinct] to get things. You can get a lot coming [indistinct] campaign next year. You can get a lot of people telling you all the things they can do, but they actually couldn’t do a thing because they’re not at the table. They’re not at the table. They don’t have the fight on the Expenditure Review Committee to get the money for that. They’re not at the Cabinet so they don’t know the policy position to get that.

But that’s what we’re on about. And I get an incredible sense of pride on behalf of our nation – not on behalf of myself. I get a great sense of solace on behalf of my party because we’ve done a great job. And I think that if we had other people looking down at us now – Moree in the past and, as I say, soon Moree is going to be connected to Brisbane by the Inland Rail, to Gladstone, to Melbourne, to Newcastle. Guess where they’ll want to set up logistics firms? Here. Here. So guess where they’re going to spend the money? Here. Guess where the wealth comes? Here. That was the plan. That’s the plan Stan. That’s why we did it. And so hopefully in the future, with all seriousness, I’m sure Lyle will be happy that we’re actually making the place better. And I assure [indistinct] that’s what it needs. And, of course, Mark [indistinct] this morning [indistinct]. He’s all right, he’s sticking with us. He’s not going anywhere.

MARK COULTON: No hurry, Barnaby.

BARNABY JOYCE: He’s been a champion of [indistinct] resolute, on and on and on and on and on. When you get people as resolute as Mark Coulton, you get wins. When you get wins your standard of living goes up and life’s better. Anyway, thank you very much, and all the best, God bless.

JOURNALIST: Thanks. Just on the submarines, the US President said the handling was clumsy. The French President said Scott Morrison lied. What went wrong?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, I tell you what, they just haven’t seen the Inland Rail. I’m going to back the Prime Minister in. There were stories and everything floating around in the paper long before the cancellation of the submarine contract. And that’s a really important word – it was a contract. We didn’t steal an island. We didn’t deface the Eiffel Tower – it was a contract. And contracts have terms and conditions, and one of those terms and conditions and propositions is that you might get out of the contract. We got out of that contract. We got out of it because the best outcome for our nation, protection of our nation, was to go to the platform that we now have, that we’re now going towards building.

Now, I hope – I hope – President Macron understands that ultimately Australia and France have got so much more in common and so much into the future than a contract which is now in the past. And, you know, I understand – I understand the sentiment. I understand the views of the French people, and I’m certain that with time, like all things, we can get over this and move on.

JOURNALIST: So given how – given everything that’s happened, is the AUKUS deal important enough to justify these issues?

BARNABY JOYCE: Yes, it is.

The defence of our nation comes absolutely first, second and third. And if your best platform is a nuclear platform with the best technology to protect our people, to protect your sons, your daughters, your grandsons, your granddaughters and make sure this part of our world is safe. We are not an aggressive people. We are very peace-loving people. But we will have a platform that deters people from taking our nation for granted. And if that is to go with nuclear submarines as designed by the British or the United States of America, then that’s precisely where we go. What other choice would the Australian people want? Say, “Oh, well, we’re going to go for another platform which probably can’t do the job of that one.” No, the Australian people want us to do one thing – they’ll say, “Get the very best so that you can keep our nation as safe as possible.”

JOURNALIST: Do you think we could have handled it better?

BARNABY JOYCE: With hindsight – you know tomorrow the Melbourne Cup’s on? If only I could put a bet on last year’s one, geez, I’d make some money.

JOURNALIST: All right. So China, India and Russia have refused to commit to net zero by 2050. Do you think that COP26 summit is at risk of failing?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, you know, this is why the Nationals, we were making sure that we were diligent. We were making sure that when we went into that room we were very aware of these things and making sure that we would do what we could, but not at the expense of our people.

JOURNALIST: What did you get?

BARNABY JOYCE: We got a whole range of things. We talked about farms. We talked about scope 3 emissions so that when you’re exporting something on that train you don’t have to account for where it lands in the world and you don’t have to pick up those emissions. We talked about reviews. There are so many issues coming through. Where things were implicit we made them explicit. I’ll tell you the sort of things that were floating around – you all heard about it. They were going to come into methane emissions. Remember, they were saying this probably the day after we came to our deal. They said, well, over in the United States and Europe they’re talking about a 30 per cent reduction by 2030. How am I going to sell that one to the beef industry? How would that have worked? We would have been putting them out of a job.

But the Nationals went into bat so we wouldn’t destroy and we would get a better deal. We were going to be negotiators, not demonstrators. Getting a better deal for regional Australians.

JOURNALIST: And every state and territory except WA has announced plans to reopen their borders. Do you have anything to say to the WA Premier as we head towards Christmas?

BARNABY JOYCE: I did last time, but he lost his marbles with me. I’ll let him talk for himself. All I can say is, we’re all going to be jumping on planes and flying to other parts of the world. [Indistinct] stay in Western Australia forever more, I don’t think the people will. The people will want to go overseas with us.

JOURNALIST: Thank you.

BARNABY JOYCE: Thanks for that.