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Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

31 January 2020

Ben Fordham

Subject: Gas, energy, coal


BEN FORDHAM:  A New South Wales public hospital has rejected a multi-million dollar funding offer made by a coal company on the grounds of community sentiment. Wyong Hospital has turned down the much needed funding offer of $14.8 million. It's believed the donation was seen by some on the hospital's board as similar to taking money from a tobacco company because it's coming from a coal mining company. This comes as New South Wales signs a $2 billion deal with the Federal Government to increase gas supply and hopefully push down power prices. The Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor is on the line. Minister, good afternoon.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks for having me, Ben.

BEN FORDHAM: Can I ask you first of all about Wyong Hospital, and the decision to turn down a $14.8 million funding offer from a coal mining company - what do you make of that?

ANGUS TAYLOR: There's pretty big questions to ask about that, Ben. I mean, it's extraordinary. I read it in the paper this morning, I know no more about it than you do but I've got to say, I'm a regional MP, and when there's support for my local facilities and services, I back it in. So I thought that was pretty extraordinary.

BEN FORDHAM: The deal that you've signed with the New South Wales Government on gas supply, can you guarantee it will lower prices?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, it is 70 petajoules of gas in a market of 120 - this is a massive increase in gas and more supply pushes down prices, Ben. That's what it does. So, this is great news for the people of New South Wales, great news for manufacturing that uses gas, great news for electricity because gas is so crucial to electricity, and of course it's also great news for people who've got solar on their roofs because we still have to have a fuel that is there when the sun goes down, and that's what gas can do. So it is very good all round. We're delighted that the New South Wales Government and Federal Government have come to this arrangement. Centrepiece of it is the gas, and I'm very confident it will push down prices, but just as importantly, it will ensure that we've got jobs in energy-intensive manufacturing in New South Wales.

BEN FORDHAM: And back to coal - New South Wales will also ensure that coal supply to the Mount Piper Power Station continues for more than 20 years.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah, exactly. So, very central to this deal is supply, supply, supply, because that's how you get prices down. Of course, one of the problems we've had at Mount Piper - which is a good power station, it's a relatively new power station - is it hasn't had enough coal to be able to run flat out. And on days like today when we need every bit of power we can get, and New South Wales and Victoria have been struggling through today, you need those power stations going flat out. If they haven't got the supply of coal or gas or whatever it is that they use as their fuel, it's a big problem. This deal is all about making sure that supply is there, and that includes Mount Piper's coal supply.

BEN FORDHAM: Minister, before I let you go, you were in the news heavily at the end of last year over this doctored document or forged document that came out of your office to a newspaper involving the Sydney Lord Mayor. I know it's been a bit of a ‘whodunit’ - have we worked out yet who done it?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, that's a complete mischaracterisation of what happened, but look, I've made a statement on this and I'm not going to say anything more about. The New South Wales Police have dropped it. Whilst there's ongoing work being done by the AFP, I'm not going to make any more comments, Ben.

BEN FORDHAM: No worries. Thanks so much and have a good weekend.