Interview with Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon, Nine Network's Today

Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon
Secret ministerial portfolios; China ban on beef exports; National Science Week

KARL STEFANOVIC: Joining us now to break down the science of ScoMo’s multiple portfolios, Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic. Ed, good morning to you now. Minister, just checking before we get rolling on the main interview, you are actually – you are actually in charge, right? You’re not sharing the job with anyone that you know of?

ED HUSIC: I can confirm that I’m not sharing it. And as Minister for Science I haven’t been cloned. It’s all just one person. ‘Tis moi.

KARL STEFANOVIC: We just lost your picture there. It looks like ScoMo’s up to mischief again. What did you think about that whole thing?

ED HUSIC: I knew it, I knew it.

KARL STEFANOVIC: And have you heard any more overnight about what might happen?

ED HUSIC: I think there’d be a lot of people who might be watching this who just may not necessarily take into account how big a deal this is. Because the reality is that when, you know, lists of ministers get announced they're done for a reason - and that is so that you know who's responsible doing what within government. And also, there are a lot of acts or laws that require a decision-maker – normally it’s a minister. And if you’re a minister going to make a decision but you’ve got someone secretly in the background able or having the power to make that decision as well, not only does it create confusion, but it just undermines the whole process of people in the public knowing who’s accountable for what decisions they’re making. So it is a pretty big deal. And it is an extraordinary in the way it was done. And to suggest that there’s an emergency, a pandemic, and this had to happen in the way that it was all carried out, it’s really hard to believe that that would be the motivation. It's just basically Scott Morrison wanting to do every job and then do it badly.


ALLISON LANGDON: I think people can understand when it came to perhaps taking over Health, but when you’re talking 2021 and you’re taking over Resources at a time when sort of that critical point of the pandemic had passed, that is the bit that is very difficult to get your head around. Is there anything that can happen from this point that you’re aware of?

ED HUSIC: So the Prime Minister has asked for advice and will be consulting – and he met with the head of the Prime Minister & Cabinet last night to talk that through and we’ll obviously discuss it further at cabinet this morning. But I can tell you this – having spent time with the PM yesterday where we announced where Moderna is going to be making the first mRNA manufacturing facility in the country, through the course of that, I can tell you the PM takes this very seriously, is deeply concerned by it and thinks it’s the wrong thing. And you need to appreciate that the PM is very much a traditionalist when it comes to the whole parliamentary process, which might not mean a lot to people, but it does mean a lot when you’re putting through the laws of the land, enforcing those laws of the land in many respects and need to know who’s doing what job and why and having them accountable. So I think this will be a big focus in the coming days for the PM and, notably, the government.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Look, I think I disagree with you in one respect there – and that is I think it does mean a hell of a lot to Australians, that process. And I think Albo’s a hundred per cent right, you know, to continue on that. There are a lot of fears, also, this morning on another matter – over reports of China banning Australian beef exports. I know it’s not your portfolio, but is that actually happening?

ED HUSIC: Well, I’ve seen those reports as well this morning and obviously concerned because that impacts on the livelihoods of a lot of people here in Australia. While I certainly appreciate every country can make a call particularly when it comes to health and safety about the products that they import, the reality is that we have very high-quality exports, that we do take a lot of time and care to make sure about the health and safety issues that surround that and that, really, if countries are going to make the call, that they make it on the basis of evidence. That’s really important. And we would be urging the Chinese government to take into account all our health and safety standards and to not make a decision that is rushed.

ALLISON LANGDON: And just before you go, it is Science Week. You’re at Questacon in Canberra, which brings back plenty of memories. What’s happening there?

ED HUSIC: You’re right, I am at Questacon – the monument for grateful parents and teachers across the country when they visit Canberra. They do enjoy bringing the kids down here. And it has been a terrific centre to start an interest in science. So it is Science Week this week. Nearly 2,000 events across the country. And it is a great chance, can I say, for us to – you know, we’ve got a lot of smart people in this country that are doing a lot of great things and improving the wellbeing of the nation. And it is important that we have this week. It’s the 26th time that Science Week, National Science Week, has been held, and for good reason – to celebrate a lot of clever people doing great things for the country.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Brilliant stuff. I remember as a kid in Queensland all we really had was Curiosity on Channel 9. Remember that?



ED HUSIC: Oh, geez, talk about a blast from the past.

KARL STEFANOVIC: There you go.

ED HUSIC: Indeed.

KARL STEFANOVIC: That’s what I’m good at – blasting from the past.

ED HUSIC: And if I can do a –


ED HUSIC: I was just going to say, if I can do a quick shout out – out in Sydney’s west Doonside Technology High is part of National Science Week. The year 8 and through to year 10 students going out and visiting primary schools and talking to students there about science. And it’s really important we get the next generation clued up. So good on you, Doonside Technology High.

KARL STEFANOVIC: And whatever that lady is doing with the green pompom behind you, it looks interesting. I love science.

ALLISON LANGDON: It looks a bit like a dry ice experiment.

ED HUSIC: Very good. She’s doing a dry ice thing.

ALLISON LANGDON: There you go. Thank you, Minister.

ED HUSIC: I wanted her to do the little bubble over my head.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Scott Morrison got that one.