MELISSA CLARKE: Thanks very much for joining me.

ALEX HAWKE: Thanks Melissa.

MELISSA CLARKE: So, the Pacific Islands Development Forum leaders have signed a declaration in Fiji, and they've said that climate change is a crisis for the Pacific. Do you agree?

ALEX HAWKE: Yeah, well, look - the Government is aware of these reports. The Pacific Island Development Forum is not something that Australia is a member of, or New Zealand, or Samoa, so it's particular countries in the Pacific. But obviously, we regard climate change as very important. We listen to those countries; we listen to all countries in the Pacific about this. But the best way to handle this is a truly regional dialogue with everyone involved.

MELISSA CLARKE: And you'll have that coming up soon. But this declaration that was signed, it was signed by more than half a dozen prime ministers and presidents in the region, and they explicitly call on countries to halt the use of carryover credits when it comes to climate change abatement. And Australia is using carryover credits to achieve its Paris Agreement. So, is the Australian government willing to heed this call to not use carryover credits?

ALEX HAWKE: Well again, Australia's not part of this particular dialogue. Obviously we're going to meet our Paris commitments. We're very focused on that. Australia always meets its international global targets; we met Kyoto, we're going to meet Paris. Yes, we are going to use carryover credits. We've done more than other countries have in reducing emissions, and I think that should be recognised. And using those is a way to continue meeting our targets, but also to keep doing more. We'll not only meet Paris, we'll beat that target as well. But we'd say to all the countries in the Pacific, listening to them and the work that we do, we're spending a record $1.4 billion in the Pacific, and $300 million on climate. And our new infrastructure financing facility has climate resilience, climate adaptation built into it. So we're going to be working with them on a lot of projects to help with the impacts of climate change.

MELISSA CLARKE: So on one hand, you've got these spending initiatives that are really helpful for Pacific nations in trying to deal with climate change. But on the other hand, they're saying all countries around the world need to be doing more in their own domestic policies. And they've specifically pointed to Australia and its use of carryover credits as a clear example of what they want to see change. Are they just going to be disappointed when it comes to this regional leaders meeting in two weeks' time?

ALEX HAWKE: Well no, we have other regional forums and Australia is a signatory to the Boe Declaration, which is about regional security and also about climate change, and having the security adapt to climate change as well. And they're the ways that we're going to [indistinct] implementation, deliver on our regional commitments on climate change. We know, and Australia has always maintained this position, that the only way to do this is with true global action, and we're a good international partner on climate change. We meet our targets, other countries don't.

MELISSA CLARKE: [Talks over] So when Fiji says: countries need to do more, their targets need to be more ambitious, and carryover credits shouldn't be used, it's – the response is going to be: tough luck, we're not changing.

ALEX HAWKE: Well, for Australia we are going to use them, because we made our targets, and we exceed our emissions reductions targets. And there's something in that that everyone should think about; we exceed our emissions reductions targets, we're a good international player, we support the truly multilateral forums at Tuvalu. There'll be discussions at PIF about this, and we'll of course be participant to those, and we're not a party to these. But do I hold it against Pacific Island countries that they want to raise climate change as an issue? Absolutely not. We respect that, we listen to it. It does impact them in a real way, and we will continue to engage with them on it.

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