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Interview with Allison Langdon and Karl Stefanovic, Today, Channel 9

27 February 2020

Interviewer: 
Allison Langdon and Karl Stefanovic

Subject: Energy bills, late payment penalties

E&OE

KARL STEFANOVIC: The Federal Government is this morning announcing a new crackdown on energy companies unfairly charging customers who pay late.

ALLISON LANGDON: Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, joins us now from Parliament House. Minister, firstly, will this do anything to bring down energy prices?

ANGUS TAYLOR: It sure will. I mean, from 1 July there'll be a rule change which will crack down on dodgy late-payment fees that have been charged by some energy companies in recent times. We know that this practice has cost families up to $185 a year, small businesses closer to $1,000 a year, with people being charged an extra 40 per cent, as much as 40 per cent for paying just a couple of hours late. The penalties for the energy companies who don't comply will be as much as $100,000 and the regulator will be watching this very, very closely. So it is good news for hardworking families, families who are very busy and occasionally don't get bills paid at the exact time, and good news for small businesses who are equally busy and not always in a position to pay exactly on time.

ALLISON LANGDON: This applies to people who've signed up to those discount deals, is that right?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah, exactly right, and those discounts, as you know, can be very, very significant and often they're totally lost - the discount disappears paying only a couple of hours late. These are very extreme practices from some companies to charge a lot more for paying just a short time after the due date.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Minister, regards to Rio Tinto – it is announcing its desire to be carbon-neutral by 2050. I wonder if you're sniffing the breeze on this as well. If shareholders are pressuring, surely that's an indicator of what the public is thinking about all this. Are you ruling out the Government taking that line altogether?

ANGUS TAYLOR: What we're ruling out is setting a target without a plan. I mean this is where countries, companies, businesses get into trouble, is if you have a target without a plan and that's what we've seen with Labor just this week.

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Talks over] But you're not - I just wanted to know - are you ruling that out altogether?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well look, our target is a 2030 target - it's a 26 per cent emission reduction target - so that's what we're focused on.

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Interrupts] No, but are you ruling out zero emissions by 2050?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well you know, we'll continue to drive down emissions all the way to 2050 whilst we're in government. So -

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Interrupts] Are you ruling out zero emissions by 2050? Pretty simple.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well of course we're going to drive down emissions all the way from now to 2050. And -

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Interrupts] I'm just going to try one more time. Are you ruling out zero emissions by 2050?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, we would like to see emissions come down as much as possible by 2050, so we're not going to rule anything out.

KARL STEFANOVIC: See, this is why people get annoyed at politicians. I mean it's a pretty simple, it's a pretty simple question.

ANGUS TAYLOR: And the answer is actually very simple. We have a 2030 target in the Paris Agreement - that's what our commitment is.

KARL STEFANOVIC: The simple answer is: “no, we're not ruling out zero emissions by 2050, Karl”.

ANGUS TAYLOR: What I am saying is we will continue to drive down emissions every year while we're in Government - that's what we've done. Look, our track record on this is second to none. We'll beat our 2020 targets by 411 million tonnes - so that's 80 per cent of a year’s worth of emissions. Our focus is on delivery, is on getting the job done, and we're delivering. You know, that's what counts in the end. Look, people can set whatever targets they like, but if there's no plan and no delivery none of it matters.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Yep.

ALLISON LANGDON: I just want to get you on something else Minister, coronavirus. Emergency plans have been put in place, particularly to protect the elderly and children. Are you confident that we are prepared to deal with this outbreak getting much, much worse?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah look, it's obviously a serious issue and we're taking it very, very seriously as a Government. We are as well planned for this as any government can be. It's a very, very strong focus for the Government. We are working on it, and all ministers are working on it constantly. But, as I say, we're well prepared and the safety and health of Australian people comes first, and it must come first in this matter.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Good on you. Thank you for being with us Angus, appreciate it.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks for having me.

KARL STEFANOVIC: And hopefully we'll have an answer on that question by 2050. [LAUGHTER]

ENDS