Michael Sukkar MP

Federal Member for Deakin
Shadow Minister for Social Services
Shadow Minister for the NDIS
Shadow Minister for Housing
Shadow Minister for Homelessness
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Interview with Andrew Clennell – Sky News






Sunday 9 June, 2024



Andrew Clennell: Joining me live from Melbourne is Shadow NDIS and Housing Minister Michael Sukkar. Let’s start now with the energy question, Michael Sukkar. Why is the Opposition looking to dump a target Australia has committed to with the UN?

Michael Sukkar: Well, because there’s no way that Australia is going to meet the target and this is where the sort of flaky motherhood statements that we just heard from the Education Minister. We constantly hear from this government, just don’t cut it. The truth is that that target requires us to have as a precondition 82 per cent renewables for our energy system. Now we’ve got less than half of that at the moment. And two years on, after legislating their target, the Government still hasn’t been able to explain to Australians how on earth they’re going to meet that most basic assumption of the target. And for those of us who have got a long political memory, Andrew, Australia has always prided itself on entering into international agreements and meeting targets and that was the case with Kyoto, for example, and we were very proud that we would always meet a target the way committed to and indeed we criticised countries who just willy-nilly signed onto agreements without any pathway to actually meet the commitment that they’ve made. Well, here, two years on, the government still can’t explain how on earth we’re going to go from less than half of the 82 per cent renewables we need to the 82 per cent renewables in the next six years.

Andrew Clennell: Alright, Mr Sukkar – The Government’s climate change statement is projecting 42 per cent reduction by 2030. That’s their climate change statement. Are you saying that’s complete tosh?

Michael Sukkar: And that assumes and that assumes that 82 per cent of our energy comes from renewables, 82. That’s what is embedded in that number, that’s the assumption upon which that number is derived. We’re less than half of that. So the Labor Party saying, Anthony Albanese and his Government are saying that they’re going to have a stunning form reversal and all of a sudden double our renewables in six years.The truth is that’s not going to happen, Australians know that’s not going to happen.

Andrew Clennell: But Mr Sukkar, if you’re elected, you wouldn’t be very popular internationally. The word pariah could perhaps even be used if you reverse the target. Wouldn’t that be the case?

Michael Sukkar: No. We’re committed to net zero by 2050. That’s what we committed to when we were in government. We committed to that before the last election. This government has made the further interim commitment, a commitment that I cannot show how on earth they’re going to meet. And we see this throughout what this government does, they make lofty commitments with no realistic possibility or aspiration of achieving it. Now, that could be the worst outcome for Australia, Andrew. If Australia is looked at as a country like others that we’ve criticised over the years, where we wantonly sign onto agreements and make commitments without a realistic pathway of getting there. So, I would ask I would ask government ministers to come on and explain how on earth we’re going to go from half of the 82 per cent renewables we need to 82 per cent renewables by 2030. None of them will be able to explain it to you, Andrew, because they’ve had two years since they legislated this target and they still haven’t been able to explain it.

Andrew Clennell: What do you make of the PM’s response to the idea of small modular reactors sometime in the future that we played at the top of the show? He just won’t accept nuclear at any stage?

Michael Sukkar: Well, look, he’s desperately trying to look for anything that distracts from the massive failures of his government and the fact that Australians are suffering on his watch. This is a man who promised $275 power reductions. We’ve seen average increases of $800. He’s broken that commitment. So I’m not surprised at all. I mean, of course, he’s going to engage in a shocking scare campaign. He thinks that himself and Chris Bowen are the experts and that all of the countries of which we would seek to compare ourselves around the world are somehow stupid, because in nearly every single case, those competitors and friends of ours are utilising nuclear as we speak. Australia is paying the highest energy prices in the world. I mean, we used to pride ourselves in having cheap baseload power in this country and it doesn’t matter how much the Prime Minister runs around trying to bag nuclear, Australians know that under him the prices have gone through the roof. They also know that if we have a very hot summers that we’ve seen this in report after report that the possibility of blackouts and brownouts is increasing. So not only will we have higher power prices under Labor, but we’re going to have intermittent power in some cases and a power system that is very vulnerable to to to warm weather, for example, in summer. Now, you can’t run an industry that way.

Andrew Clennell: Mr Sukkar, is this the hill The Coalition wants to die on? Nuclear?

Michael Sukkar: Well, no. I mean, there’s a myriad of things that we’ll be talking about between now and the election, I can assure you. But a pretty important place to start is that you need cheap and reliable energy in this country. We’ve seen manufacturing insolvencies in Australia triple under the watch of this government. So many manufacturers say to us the input costs of higher energy prices just mean we cannot compete with foreign competitors and that’s why they’re going to the wall, Australians see it every quarter when they get their power bills, they see the power bills going through the roof. And yet they looked at the Prime Minister before the election who lied to them and said that he was going to deliver a 275 dollar a year energy price reduction. That is the that is the most blatant lie we’ve seen in Australian politics probably in our lifetime.

Andrew Clennell: I’ve seen a few lies in my time. Let’s talk now about this estimates evidence concerning the NDIS, your portfolio areas. Let’s get on onto that. Everything from heroin to cocaine being bought through the NDIS to $10,000 holidays. Shocking waste of taxpayer money. The Government argues it’s the appointment of their fraud guy John Dardo, which has exposed all this. And all of this used to happen under your government. What’s your response to that?

Michael Sukkar: Well, I think it’s pretty clear that we’ve seen fraud go through the roof under the administration of Bill Shorten and his hand-picked CEO. You’ve got to remember, Andrew, we had estimates processes when we were in government. These sorts of cases weren’t coming out then. And I doubt it’s because the Labor Party wasn’t trying to dig them up at the time. The reason why these are coming out now is clearly the problem’s getting worse. In the last estimates period, Andrew, it was revealed that people were procuring prostitutes under the NDIS, paying for prostitutes with NDIS money. We saw that recently released criminals of the most vile sexual offenses were using the NDIS to try and procure young females.

Andrew Clennell: But they’ve got a fraud task force now.

Michael Sukkar: Andrew, no. They renamed the Fraud Taskforce that already existed. Bill Shorten’s one thing that he’s done. I’ll give him credit. He’s done one thing since he’s been the Minister. He changed the name of the Fraud taskforce to the Fusion Fraud Taskforce. Congratulations. He rebranded it. He renamed it. The Fraud Taskforce was already there and he was very embarrassed in Parliament last week when he was forced to correct the record in Parliament because he made the claim that we hadn’t looked at fraud. And then within about 5 minutes we were able to provide example after example of where we had. So he actually was forced to come back into the house and apologise for misleading the House. So even within 5 minutes of making that claim, he had to backtrack.

Andrew Clennell: We’re nearly out of time. You mentioned the $73,000 car in Question Time that was purchased under the NDIS. Do you think that’s a particularly shocking case?

Michael Sukkar: Of course it is. I mean, it’s a remarkable case. Obviously the NDIS funds things like modifications to vehicles for people with disabilities to ensure that they can drive and every Australian would absolutely support that. But a new car, prostitutes, cocaine, heroin, alcohol – these sorts of things diminish the standing of the NDIS.

Andrew Clennell: Well, I’ve learned that car was purchased by a self management participant when you were in office in 2021. In other words, that occurred while you were in office. So this goes to the government’s argument, doesn’t it? Their audits have picked up these sorts of things that your government did it.

Michael Sukkar: Well, that was public. I mean, that’s not a point of contention. But the point here is that the minister has had two years to address these issues. So you’ve got to remember, we went to the election acknowledging that some of these issues existed. Bill Shorten said he was going to fix them. What’s happened is they’ve got worse and it’s extended from cars now to prostitutes, cocaine, heroin and alcohol. So it’s seemingly getting a lot worse. And Bill Shorten’s been there and this government’s been there for two years. What on earth have they done for two years? What on earth have they done? Bill Shorten put his hand-picked CEO into the role. He went to the election promising Australians that the NDIS was safe in his hands. I think this week has proven once and for all that it’s far from safe in his and this government’s hands and in fact the NDIS will need a Coalition government to sort out some of the problems that have been exacerbated on the watch of this Minister and Government.

Andrew Clennell: Michael Sukkar, thanks so much for your time this morning.

Michael Sukkar: Thanks, Andrew.