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Doorstop, Parliament House

12 November 2020


Subject: Gas roundtable, Australia's emissions targets


ANGUS TAYLOR: This morning I'm going to be holding a roundtable with the gas industry - gas suppliers and gas users. Of course, a couple of weeks ago we announced the Government's policy in this area in the lead up to the Budget, the gas-fired recovery, ensuring that Australian gas is working for all Australians. And of course, gas is crucial for our energy system. It provides firming for the record level of investment we're seeing in renewables – $9 billion last year, you’ll see a similar $9 billion this year, according to the Clean Energy Regulator. But it also provides a critical feedstock for manufacturing, for products like fertiliser, necessary for all the food we eat each day and, of course, plastics for PPE, for health, health care workers and so on. It is an absolutely crucial feedstock for the 850,000 Australians who work in manufacturing. Now, when we announced our policies a couple of weeks ago, there were a focus in three areas. Unlocking supply. We need to see more gas getting out and working hard for all Australians. Investment in efficient infrastructure, pipeline infrastructure to ensure we get gas to the customers. And, of course, empowering customers, making sure they have fair prices, prices that are internationally competitive, that ensure our manufacturing sector has the affordable, reliable energy it needs to be internationally competitive, to invest, to create jobs, and to ensure that right across our manufacturing sector, we, as we come out of the pandemic, into recovery, have that job creation we need for all Australians. This is an important opportunity for us to work with the industry. We want to see the industry address those issues of unlocking supply, investment in efficient infrastructure and, of course, empowering customers and getting the pricing right. We want to see the industry step up and address those issues, and take the leadership role itself, and we're doing that through an industry led Code of Conduct. But the government will always step in, if necessary, to make sure we get the right outcomes. But there are outcomes that have to be right for all Australians, for those hard-working Australians, small businesses, households and, of course, industry that’s are so reliant on affordable, reliable energy in this great country.

JOURNALIST: Net zero emissions by 2050, is it still something the Government would consider as a target?

ANGUS TAYLOR: We've committed to a global target of net zero as part of the Paris Agreement, and we want to see that happen as soon as possible. But the pathway to get there is technology, not taxes. This is a choice. You either go down the path of making sure technologies come into our energy systems, we strengthen those energy systems, bring down the cost of energy, or you tax them and destroy jobs, destroy investment, destroy regions and industries. Our choice on that pathway is very, very clear. Our Technology Investment Roadmap is all about saying here are the priority technologies that are going to allow us to achieve the outcomes that are necessary. And I note that in the United States now, there has been and will continue to be a very strong focus on technologies. In fact, carbon capture and storage, for instance, almost half of the carbon capture and storage projects in the world today in the United States. President-elect Biden said he will double down on that technology. This is how we're going to bring down emissions and make sure, crucially, that we have a strong economy, job creation and affordable energy in this country.

JOURNALIST: Minister, the last few elections over the past 10 years or so have been fought predominantly on climate change issues. Are you worried a Joel Fitzgibbon-led charge on energy policy in Labor could threaten the Government's chances at the next election?

ANGUS TAYLOR: I want to see the right energy policies for this country. And that means the right energy policies agreed from both side of politics. It is good to see Joel Fitzgibbon calling out energy policies from the Labor Party, where you have unfunded policies – not my words, Jennie George’s words – unfunded policies. And those sorts of policies that we saw at the last election will destroy jobs, will destroy investment. Joel Fitzgibbon is calling it out. Now, we need to get the balance right here. And Australians understand that you solve these problems through balance, a balance between renewables, gas and traditional coal generators. A balance between jobs in the regions and outer suburbs in manufacturing, alongside those emerging industries that we see closer to the centre of the capital cities. That balance is absolutely crucial for this country. We understand that, we’re united. Labor's divided, paralysed by indecision at the moment, and division. We're getting on with the job.

JOURNALIST: But if, as Joel Fitzgibbon says, Labor has lost the last three elections because of its climate policy, if they change as a result of what he’s saying, doesn't that directly pose a threat to you as Energy Minister and the Coalition as government?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, I'll tell you, my job as Energy Minister is to get the right outcomes for this country, and I will continue every day to make sure that we have the right policies in place. And if the Labor Party wants to work with us on those policies, we absolutely always will. But it is all about getting this balance right. Affordable, reliable energy for all Australians as we bring down our emissions.

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Minister Taylor's office: 02 6277 7120