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Doorstop interview, Parliament House, Canberra

24 February 2020

Subject: Emissions targets


ANGUS TAYLOR: We've seen again that Labor is all target and no plan when it comes to emissions reduction. What they've announced in the last few days is a target which has no plan, which is uncosted, which is unfunded. That's exactly what they did at the last election and the Australian people told them what they thought of that. Now, if they're going to have this sort of target they need to explain it to the farmers of Australia what that means for them. Even New Zealand has exempted dairy and cattle and agriculture more generally from their targets. They need to explain to miners what it means for them. They need to explain to the transport sector and manufacturing sectors what it means for them. We simply won't set a target without a plan. Now, we have a very clear target to reach, our 2030 target by 26 per cent emission reduction and we are delivering. We're already on track, as of December last year, to meet and beat our 2030 target by 411 million tonnes. That's 80 per cent of a year's worth of emissions reductions. That's 411 million tonnes of carbon dioxide that is not in the air that otherwise would be because of the hard work of Australians. We'll meet and beat our 2020 targets. We are absolutely in line to deliver and what we're focused on is targets that we know we can deliver. Targets where we've explained to the Australian people what the costs are and what the implications are for them. Labor keeps going back to their same old path. As I said, the Australian people told them what they thought of that at the last election.

JOURNALIST: Minister Taylor, as difficult as it is to try to model 30 years ahead to get an estimate - will part of your review into whether you're going down this path also take into account not doing it? The impact of not doing it?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, of course, the whole point about this is that getting an outcome, delivering a reduction in global emissions requires coordinated global action, Phil, and coordinated global action means we need to do our bit. That's what it's about. So, we are doing our bit for our 2020 targets. We are on track to meet our 2030 targets. Importantly, the way we'll reduce emissions beyond 2030 is by making sure there's technologies available that allow us to reduce our emissions without destroying sectors, regions, towns and the economy and jobs, as well as raising electricity bills. We're simply not going down that path. Now, that means making sure there's technologies available that allow industries and businesses to invest and reduce emissions without having an impact on their prospects. It's very simple. We've seen success in this. In the land management sector, we've seen extraordinary reduction in emissions. Farmers are playing an enormously important role. In our energy efficiency, Australia has been doing extremely well in recent years. Household solar, almost one in four houses in Australia with household solar. I mean, we're leading the world in the deployment and integration of household solar, challenging though it is at times. We know technology works. We know that good technology delivers those emissions reductions. That's why we're so focused on making sure it's about technology, not taxation, not raising electricity bills.

JOURNALIST: Do you accept there's technologies that we don't even know about yet that may come into play in the next 10 to 20 years? Like the AI Group said on Friday, this is as silly as trying to model the smartphone in 1990 for 2020 when the thing didn’t even exist. Do you accept there's a great unknown here?

ANGUS TAYLOR: I agree that Labor trying to put out a target like this without a plan is very silly. I mean, it's ridiculous. In fact, it's completely irresponsible.

JOURNALIST: [Talks over] I was talking about trying to model new technologies.

ANGUS TAYLOR: But look, technology is crucial to this. There's many technologies we do know about, Phil. I mean, if we look at hydrogen - we announced our National Hydrogen Strategy, alongside the states and territories, in December last year. We've since committed $500 million to that strategy and we're seeing an enormous amount of private sector investment, as well as state government investment coming in alongside our investment. The Latrobe Valley Supply Chain project - all about working out how to supply hydrogen up to Japan and Korea and China, our Asian customer countries, for energy. A fantastic project. $50 million from the Federal Government. Total investment across other stakeholders of 500 million. This is how we're going to solve this problem - working with partners, working with other countries around the world to find solutions. That's what Australians are great at and that's what humans are great at. It's genius, we come up with the answers to these problems, and technology is at the heart of it.

JOURNALIST: Minister, if it's silly for Labor to have the net zero 2050 emissions target, is it silly for the UK, for New Zealand, for Canada, for 73 countries, to have that ambition? And what do you say to the CSIRO, the experts, the scientists, who say very clearly that it's going to cost more if we don't act on climate change and emissions?

ANGUS TAYLOR: There were a number of questions in that. But let me start with-

JOURNALIST: [Talks over] Unpack it. We can unpack it.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Let me start with what's silly - what's silly is to have a target without a plan. That's what's silly. They have a target-

JOURNALIST: [Talks over] But Labor hasn't said that. Labor say they will develop their plan. They've set their ambition. What's wrong with having an ambition?

ANGUS TAYLOR: I'm looking forward to them explaining to farmers what it means for them.

JOURNALIST: They've said they will.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, they haven't done it. You know, they've announced this target and they haven't explained it. I mean, this is what happened at the last election. Now, they need to explain it, they need to explain what this means for farmers, for miners, for truckies, for people right throughout regional Australia in particular who will be most impacted by a ham-fisted approach to this, which is what we've come to expect from Labor on all of this. Now, the truth of the matter is, as I said in response to Phil's questions earlier, that the way to deal with this issue is co-ordinated global action. Australia's unilateral action is not going to solve the problem – we are 1.3 per cent of emissions - but us doing our bit globally is crucial.

JOURNALIST: [Talks over] But aren't we doing that by joining the other countries?

ANGUS TAYLOR: The point about an investment or an initiative like what we're doing in the National Hydrogen Strategy is it doesn't just reduce our emissions, it supports the reduction in emissions across the globe - in Japan, and Korea, and China. That's how we're going to solve this problem, through coordinated concerted global action. That's when the benefits flow. Without that the benefits won't flow. So that's the centrepiece of our approach to this and, as I say, we won't do targets without a plan. And you've seen that in 2020, we smashed them. 2030, we're absolutely on track to meet and beat our targets, That's how we approach this problem.

JOURNALIST: Just on the question of science though, the CSIRO has said, very clearly, that the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of action.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, this is about policy - science feeds into that, it's enormously important, don't get me wrong - but this is about policy and it's about policies where Labor has a target without a plan, without explaining to the Australian people what the implications are. We're simply not going to go down that path.

JOURNALIST: Minister, we've just seen a rather heated argument over this between Barnaby Joyce and Joel Fitzgibbon. Has the debate on this become unedifying?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Barnaby is passionate about Australia's farmers and Australia's miners and Australia's transport sector. He's passionate and so am I. I mean, that's, that's a good thing. We want to see that kind of passion for these enormously important sectors for Australia. Look, our export economy, driven by those sectors alongside education and tourism, has grown at a very rapid rate since we got in Government. We should be very proud of the role that our LNG exports, our beef exports, our sheep exports, our wool, our grain, they are playing an enormously important role. Now, Barnaby is passionate about that and he wants to make sure that those industries are put in a position to be prosperous for many, many decades to come. And that the sorts of policies that we've seen from Labor historically, we saw them with the live exports policies when they were in government, they simply throw these policies at sectors they don't like - and let's face it they don't appear to like agriculture - they throw these policies at them, they don't explain the implications and we see the outcomes.

JOURNALIST: When will you tell us whether at any stage you've been interviewed by the AFP?

ANGUS TAYLOR: The AFP and the New South Wales Police considered and closed this matter. I've really got nothing more to add. They’ve considered it and closed it. They're two fine police forces. Now, there's people out there wanting to question the independence of those police forces, that's a matter for them. But, these issues have been considered as closed.

JOURNALIST: Minister, on emissions you keep saying that Labor doesn't have a plan. Can I just get you to clarify something though - you haven't criticised the target, yourself, of net zero. Are you open to net zero, is the Government open to net zero if you can actually formulate a plan on how to get there?

ANGUS TAYLOR: You know, you guys were here for the last election in May and we made the point time and time and time again - if you're going to have a target, you've got to have a plan, it's got to be costed and it's got to be funded. You've got to be clear, and you've got to be clear about the implications for huge swathes of our economy.

JOURNALIST: So are you opposed to net zero?

ANGUS TAYLOR: No, no, what I am saying is if you're going to have a target, you have a plan. Now that's what we do, and we deliver, you look at the outcomes. I mean, when Labor left government in 2012 they were forecasting emissions for this year that were 100 million tonnes higher than they're turning out to be. We're 100 million tonnes below what they forecasted and they had a carbon tax in place. I mean, this is how Labor approaches this. We simply get on and deliver. We set a target. We have a plan. We cost it. We fund it. We get on with it. And we over deliver.

JOURNALIST: Just on the target, when you go to Glasgow, or whoever goes to Glasgow, will it be a fair dinkum target? Or will it be aspirational target?

ANGUS TAYLOR:  You know what, we have a fair dinkum target now to reach our 2030 emissions and to ensure that we're doing our bit to reduce global emissions, technology will be central to that. Our gas exports are central to that now. I mean, we're selling gas up into of Japan, Korea, China which is reducing their emissions right now. Now we've got to play our part, this is the crucial point-

JOURNALIST: Yeah, but Glasgow? For Glasgow?

ANGUS TAYLOR: We have to do our bit. We are doing our bit. We've got a plan to do our bit and we're delivering on now.

JOURNALIST: You're not ruling out a 50 per cent target if you can get there-

ANGUS TAYLOR: What we're saying very clearly is we are putting in place through the course of this year a long-term strategy where we'll meet and beat our targets. We're getting on with the job and, Phil, the point is, you know, we have a track record. We are always delivering on this one.

JOURNALIST: Okay. Yeah. So you're not hostile to the policy as long as it has can be paid for and modelled?

ANGUS TAYLOR: I've been very clear, what we are hostile to is the target without a plan. And Labor flip-flops on this. I do want to make this final point - Labor flip-flops on this. You know, they're at it again, they're at it again. In St Kilda, it's solar. In Balmain, its batteries. And in Kingston at the Otis Group, it's coal. Alright? They're all over the shop. They're even saying somehow metallurgical coal is going to be exempted from any kind of outcome of this. They can't explain it, Phil. They need to explain it and until they do, they're back where they were before last election.