Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

Ben Fordham, 2GB
Reshuffle, women in cabinet, Malcolm Turnbull, gas, energy prices, Powering Communities Program

BEN FORDHAM: One Minister who was not moved around is the Federal Minister for Energy, Angus Taylor. He's on the line. Minister, good morning to you.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good morning, Ben. Thanks for having me.

BEN FORDHAM: What do you make of the new line-up?

ANGUS TAYLOR: It's good news. It's great to see Karen, who I've worked very closely with on manufacturing over recent times, move into Home Affairs. Of course, Melissa Price back in Cabinet. Michaelia who is, you know, an outstanding woman, going into the Attorney-General's role. So look, these are all great moves and looking forward to continuing to work with the team. Of course, there's a lot of continuity there as well, and the main thing now is just to buckle down and continue to do the hard work that really matters to Australians every day.

BEN FORDHAM: Just on Marise Payne, she's Foreign Affairs Minister, Minister for Women,  and Scott Morrison says she's now the ‘Prime Minister for Women.’ So, do you now have two prime ministers to answer to?

ANGUS TAYLOR: I think he corrected that and said the “primary” Minister for Women, which is the whole point, is that she's led the charge on this important issue and she'll continue to. She's doing a great job in Foreign Affairs and of course, as Minister for Women. Look, it's an important role. We've got to make sure we get this right. We've got to do it in a way that works for a Liberal National Government, and I have no doubt we will.

BEN FORDHAM: Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has landed a new job with the New South Wales Government, appointed by the Energy Minister, Matt Kean, who you've butted heads with on more than a few occasions. Malcolm Turnbull will front a new advisory board to guide the Government's long term climate policies. So does that put you in a bit of a jam?

ANGUS TAYLOR: No, look, we continue to work with the New South Wales Government as we need to. Look, I was a bit surprised that Malcolm took on this role, a former prime minister. But look, we'll work with the New South Wales Government to do the work we really need to to get more gas into the market. They've made commitments to us on this. They need to keep those commitments. We need to see a replacement for Liddell. We're working closely with the New South Wales Government on that. These are the projects that will really make the difference, Ben, and we'll continue to work with the New South Wales Government. They need to keep their side of the deal we've done with them - I have little doubt they will - and that's what really matters to the people of New South Wales and certainly to us.

BEN FORDHAM: Are you looking forward to working with Malcolm Turnbull again?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, I won't be working with Malcolm Turnbull - this is an appointment by the New South Wales Government. What I'll be doing is working with the New South Wales Government to make sure they keep their commitments on gas, on keeping enough energy in the system to put downward pressure on prices and continue to put downward pressure on prices, on replacing Liddell. Look, these are the projects that are really going to make a difference. They'll bring down prices further. We've already seen significant reductions in the last 18 months or so. You shop around, there's good deals around now. We need to keep that pressure down and at the same time, bring down our emissions. I have no doubt we can do that in sensible ways that are good for the people of New South Wales, and New South Wales needs to keep its commitments on the deals we've done with them in that area.

BEN FORDHAM: Just on gas, there is an interesting announcement from Canterbury Bankstown Council. As part of their brand new vision for the city, they want to ban gas appliances. The plan includes smart technology in residential developments and the banning of gas appliances. So presumably that's no gas stoves, no gas heaters, no gas barbecues.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, we believe in choice. People should choose whether they want to have gas barbecues. I think there's a lot of people out there listening right now who want to continue to have their gas barbecues. I'm sure they'll rev them up over Easter. I think that's a choice that people should be able to make. Look, you know, at the end of the night, doing sensible things to bring down emissions, like the program that we're opening up today about community organisations getting access to energy efficiency opportunities, whether it's a new air-conditioner or a new fridge or indeed putting solar panels on their roof, you know, they're the sensible things that are going to make the difference. But forcing people to get rid of their gas, I mean, come on. Look, that is just not necessary to get sensible outcomes and it is sensible approaches to this that we are going to continue to focus on.

BEN FORDHAM: This new announcement today is a $10 million Powering Communities Program, and you think it will help community groups lower power bills?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, whether you're an RSL or a Surf Life Saving Club, a Rotary Club, a Men's Shed, Chamber of Commerce, you know, energy bills are an important issue. They're one of the ongoing costs that all those sorts of groups have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. This is a program which will allow for grants of between $5000 and $12,000 to get those energy bills down. So whether it's replacing an old fridge or creaky air-conditioning or indeed putting solar cells on the roof, this is allowing those groups to make those investments that they often find hard to get the money together for, and that will allow them to continue to bring down their bills. That's just practical stuff, and it won't just bring down bills, it brings down emissions while we're at it. It's that sensible approach, not banning gas, but a sensible approach to helping that bottom up, those community organisations reduce their costs and reduce their emissions at the same time. That's how we're going to get emissions down, not through crazy bans of gas or forcing people into a car that they don't want to drive. That's the stuff that we will always avoid.

BEN FORDHAM: We appreciate your time bright and early, Minister. Thank you very much.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good on you, Ben. Thanks for having me.