You have said that you will resign from politics if Malcolm Turnbull altered direction on climate policy. Do you think he will be the effective leader Australia needs to combat climate change?
I said that I would start growing veggies if Malcolm Turnbull decided to change tact on climate. The truth is I already grow a few veggies but there is no chance I will be growing more because I suspect Malcolm Turnbull is a long way from adopting the climate policies that we need as a nation to start tackling climate change.
What do you hope will be achieved at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris?
I think it’s an opportunity to get a consensus around the world about the level of ambition that we need to bring global temperatures down to below two degrees increase. The big challenge for Paris is for us to ensure that each of those nations adopts targets that are consistent with a two-degree temperature rise and to ensure that they stick to those targets. Australia is at the back of the pack when it comes to doing both of those things.
But have we passed the point of no return on climate change?
I refuse to believe it. I am not going to give up on it. I think ultimately, even if it is a 50% chance we can turn this thing around, then we owe it to everybody to do it.
How can Australia have a rapid uptake of renewable energy and still maintain the level of employment, or even increase the amount of stable blue-collar jobs?
Renewable energy is an incredibly jobs rich industry. There are enormous jobs in building wind turbines, in servicing those turbines. I’ve been to a number of wind farms and what you see is whole industries that are developed on the back of those technologies. It’s mining and coal mining that’s very jobs poor and it’s the renewable energy sector that’s jobs rich and also a huge economic growth generator for the country. I think it’s a myth to think that acting on climate change isn’t good for our economy… it is.
Do you think our current tertiary education system is unsustainable, and if it is, what do you want to change about it?
The only reason our tertiary education system is unsustainable is because governments refuse to pay for it. I mean sustainability is a choice. If we choose to invest in those things, then of course we will have a world-class tertiary education system. If we don’t invest in it, then we’ll end up being forced to make students pay more. That’s the choice we have. My view is that a smart country invests in its people. It does that by having a world-class tertiary education system. We can afford it but to do that we have to make some tough decisions about how we raise revenue; and we have a fully costed policy platform to be able to do that.
Considering we’re standing on the dance floor of the elevated nightclub in UniPub, I think I need to ask you what your favourite drink is when you are on a night out.
I am just trying to think of my favourite beer… maybe a Coopers Red.
Good on ya.