29 January 2019
ANGUS TAYLOR: Late last week, we saw around 150,000 Victorian households and many crucial businesses lose their power. Daniel Andrews and the Victorian Government have some very hard questions to answer because for years now, they have been deliberately trashing their reliable 24/7 power in the Victorian electricity grid. They've been encouraging investment in variable generation without the backup, without the storage. This is policy that was always going to end badly.
It's time for the Victorian Government to fess up, to come clean, and to join with us in our policies to ensure that we have enough 24/7 reliable baseload power in our electricity system. That includes supporting our Underwriting New Generation Investments program, which we'll have more to say about in the coming weeks. This is a crucial program, because we will be underwriting, for the first time for many years, the Federal Government will be underwriting new 24/7 reliable power in our system to make sure that bad policy by state governments, like the Victorian State Government, can't happen again.
Meanwhile, late last year, we had agreement from COAG to the Retailer Reliability Obligation. This will hold the retailers to account to make sure they do their bit in ensuring we have enough 24/7 power in the system to ensure there isn't a repeat of what we saw last week. It should never had happened and the Victorian Government needs to take accountability for this disastrous outcome.
JOURNALIST: What do you make of Mr Andrews' assertion that: "The Commonwealth Government doesn't understand that renewable energy is the future for reliable and cheap power"?
ANGUS TAYLOR: I'll tell you what Daniel Andrews doesn't understand - he doesn't understand that variable power is not necessarily there when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine. We need enough baseload power, enough dispatchable, 24/7 reliable power in the system, balancing the system, that ensures that the lights are on 24/7. Daniel Andrews doesn't understand this. Well, the good people of Victoria do understand, and those 150,000 households who lost their power, businesses like Portland, that lost its power - a business that absolutely depends on having reliable power. Those businesses and those households understand that we need balance in our system. Daniel Andrews doesn't because he's ideologically driven. We won't stand for it. That's why we're stepping in, that's why we're underwriting new generation, that's why we're holding the big energy companies to account to make sure they have enough reliable power in the system.
JOURNALIST: Mr Taylor, do you agree with Christopher Pyne when he says that a Labor government will trigger a recession?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well look, I'm here to talk about energy and I tell you what-
JOURNALIST: But you're a senior Cabinet minister.
ANGUS TAYLOR: I'll tell you what, what we saw late last week was an energy driven recession in Victoria. We saw a whole series of businesses being shut down because of Labor's bad policies. Frankly, that is what Labor has come to. They are not interested in the jobs of those workers in Portland. They're not interested in making sure those 150,000 households who lost their power have that baseload power on a very hot day, have access to air-conditioning, to turn the lights on on those crucial days. I tell you, as a Government, we won't stand for it. That's why we are stepping in, that's why we are underwriting new generation in our electricity grid.
JOURNALIST: But the Prime Minister has just given a speech on the importance of a strong economy. You're a senior Cabinet Minister. So is Christopher Pyne. Christopher Pyne says a Labor government will trigger a recession - do you agree?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well I'll tell you what, we have generated in the last five and a half years 1.2 million jobs. The one way to ensure that we continue to have a strong economy is to support the Coalition in government, because we have achieved extraordinary outcomes. 1.2 million jobs - in my electorate and so many electorates around Australia. We have seen unprecedented job outcomes. Those jobs are crucial not just for those individuals, many young Australians - 100,000 young Australians - in the last financial year have gone into work. They're crucial, because those people pay their taxes, and of course, that enables us, through the strong economy, to ensure we have the health system, the education system, the infrastructure, including the ability to actually underwrite new generation as I've been speaking about today.
JOURNALIST: Strictly, of the proposed 1.25 million jobs to come, how many of them are going to be foreign workers, or immigrants coming into our country?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Our focus is on making sure Australians are in a job. That's our focus, and we've had an extraordinary track record on this - 1.2 million since we've been in Government. This is a wonderful outcome, and what you've heard from the Prime Minister today is a commitment to continue that success into the future.