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Interview with Alan Jones, 2GB Radio

2 February 2019

Subject: Energy


ALAN JONES: The Federal Government is going to consider 10 new power generation projects that include coal under a plan they say to help restore stability. Now, I don't mean to be overly critical here - I'll talk to Angus Taylor in just a moment - but to restore stability, when would these people, when would these outfits have electricity online? You can't build a house in a day. There are reports they've received 66 submissions from organisations seeking government backing to develop firm power generation projects, but this is down the track. We saw what happened at the weekend. Last Friday we saw what happened in Victoria - I mean, blackouts everywhere. Why? Well, I come back to the worst Prime Minister Australia has ever known, and is ever likely to know in Malcolm Turnbull. Because Abbott said keep Hazelwood open, Turnbull had to say no, it will shut. And so Victoria lost 25 per cent of their power. Sixty-two countries are building or planning 1,600 new coal-fired power plants. We have six and they're all going to close. There is no proposal - as I speak today to Angus Taylor, the Energy Minister - very bright man - no proposal to build any power station be it coal or nuclear. The Minister is on the line. Angus, good morning - you know what I'm saying is correct.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Morning Alan. Well, of those 66 projects that we've received submissions for, Alan, 10 are coal and we're going to go through them as quickly as we can. Look, there's absolute urgency here as you say, and I should say to your earlier comment, we're not just focused here on bringing in new generation - we've got to keep what we've got and you're dead right-

ALAN JONES: Well Turnbull didn't do that. Turnbull didn't do that.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, I am the Minister now, and if Hazelwood had been there in Victoria last week, we wouldn't have seen 200,000 houses without power.

ALAN JONES: That's correct. Well what are you going to do about it? Are you pulling AGL in relation to Liddell?

ANGUS TAYLOR: We have put legislation up to the Parliament which will give the power to the Government, to be able to take action against companies who withdraw supply from the market in this way. Now, Labor has blocked that 12 times, 12 times. Now we're going after them on this Alan, because we not only need to bring new power in, this is urgent, we must do that - but we also need to retain what we've got. We've got to have balance in the system and this idea that you can go to 100 per cent renewables overnight, which is being peddled by, particularly by state governments. You know, this is madness. We've seen what happened in South Australia in recent years. We saw what happened in Victoria last week. It's not on and we're taking action.

ALAN JONES: Well, look, Angus, forgive my cynicism, but if you were to start one of these things today and put a shovel in the ground, it will take three years. Now, we don't have the power. Someone and you know what the answer to this is, you know that we will be dependent on coal-fired power if we're going to have a sophisticated civilised way of life, if we're going to be internationally competitive in terms of industry, if we're going to have affordable energy, you know we have to have coal-fired power. When is someone in your Government going to separate yourself entirely from the lunatics on the other side who are talking about 50 per cent renewable and say: “Vote for us, we are for coal-fired power”.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Alan, that is exactly what we are doing now. We are saying very clearly: we're not going for the targets Labor's going for. We're not going for these crazy targets that we've seen state governments pursue. The crucial thing here - is we're going to do two things, both of which are about supply. One is we're going to retain what we've got and we've got to hold companies to account. We can't allow that Hazelwood event to happen again - it simply can't happen again - and we've got to bring new power stations in. And you're right, you are absolutely right - it takes time to bring new supply in which is why in the meantime we've got to retain what we have. We've brought extremely strong powers to the Parliament, it's not what we would normally like to do but we've had to do it, and Labor is blocking those. We will keep pursuing this Alan, because you've got to retain supply.

ALAN JONES: But you've got conflict at the states, Angus. I mean you've got this idiot Don Harwin - and I mean the word advisedly, an idiot - the Energy Minister who says New South Wales - this is a Coalition Government - will have zero emissions. That means coal-fired power stations will be closed down. Zero emissions. I mean you cannot survive with this kind of mentality.

ANGUS TAYLOR: You are absolutely right, Alan. You are absolutely right. Any state government that goes for a target like this is being irresponsible, is trashing their electricity network, just as we saw Dan Andrews-

ALAN JONES: That's right.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Trashing the Victorian grid.

ALAN JONES: That's right. Well you'd think the bloke was a Green.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Absolutely. So no responsible state government including Don Harwin as the New South Wales Energy Minister can do this. It is the wrong thing, let alone what they're doing to other industries.

ALAN JONES: I know it's frightening. I mean the money lost Friday was in the billions of dollars. Just a quick one before you go - you have, I know that Trevor St Baker the founder of the ERM Power has got a $6 billion plan to develop high-efficiency low-emission coal-fired power plants at Hazelwood in Victoria and Liddell, so to replace those that are there. He's handed you a proposal on 16 January, he says we've got a shortage of reliable power, he says there are 1,000 megawatt gaps in Victoria, New South Wales has got no spare capacity. Now you've got this, he's done the homework. Why don't we put a shovel in the ground?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well those projects, in those projects that I talked about earlier a moment or two ago Alan - yeah absolutely, look we'll work through these as quickly as we can. We can't muck around. We can't get them wrong. They're big projects and as you rightly say you've got to get them right, but we are not mucking around with this. We've managed to get 66 projects with total capacity equal to more than half of the total capacity of the National Electricity Market in the last two months. So we're working at a rapid pace here Alan and we have to.

ALAN JONES: And why do you continue to employ Audrey Zibelman who's a global warming renewable energy apologist from America?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well look, Alan my focus right now is getting more supply in the market-

ALAN JONES: Well she's co-ordinating - she's in charge of the whole thing. She's in charge of all of it.

ANGUS TAYLOR: This is something we control as the Commonwealth Government. We can bring more generation into the market. We are bringing legislation - we've brought legislation to Parliament to hold this supply that we've got. These are the levers we can control. The state government as you rightly say, need to do the right thing, they haven't. They need to step up but we want to work with them on these projects and it's crucial that they play their role in this because if we don't get more supply in and hold the supply we've got, we're going to see more of what Victoria got.

ALAN JONES: Yes of course we do.

ANGUS TAYLOR: We had a very near miss in New South Wales as you well know.

ALAN JONES: Okay. I know, we well - we've got three more years until we can get something to provide reliable, affordable and available energy into the system. Good to talk to you, we'll talk again. Travel safe, I know you're going from Canberra to Goulburn. Thank you for your time Angus Taylor.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks Alan.