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Interview with Deb Knight, Today Show, Nine

3 December 2018

Subject: Energy

E&OE

DEB KNIGHT: We're joined now by Energy Minister Angus Taylor who is in Canberra for the final sitting week of Parliament. Minister, so much for quitting Parliament for good - this is so damaging from Malcolm Turnbull. Your party's more than mess - it's all-out war.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well I don't agree, Deb. At the end of the day this is a matter for the New South Wales Liberal Party and I'll leave that to them. But what I want to see is all sitting MPs who are part of a team, working hard to deliver for all Australians, and doing that well: lower taxes; more jobs; congestion-busting infrastructure. I want to see them all re-elected to the Parliament in the next term and that's my focus. We've got to unite and fight. That's what my constituents told me over the weekend they want to see and that's what we've got to do.

DEB KNIGHT: Well voters do want to see action and movement on policy rather than you guys just talking about yourselves and all of this infighting. Surely we need to not let you guys sort it out because it's just more chaotic. Why don't you just go to the polls early and let voters actually sort it out?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well I think voters want to see us get on with policy.

DEB KNIGHT: We do.

ANGUS TAYLOR: That's why-

DEB KNIGHT: But it's not happening.

ANGUS TAYLOR: That's why, well, that's why we're driving energy prices down. I mean standing offers reduced by up to 15 per cent. Powering Forward campaign which people can access through the Powering Forward website - they'll see a whole lot of ideas about how they alongside the Government's initiatives can get their energy prices down. We're seeing tax cuts, company tax cuts, personal income tax cuts. We're seeing record investments in infrastructure. And we're seeing record job creation.

DEB KNIGHT: Okay.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Over a million jobs in the time we've been in Government. So that's the work Australians want to see continued, and we need to unite and fight against a potential Bill Shorten government which is not going to be good for Australia.

DEB KNIGHT: So why then don't you unite and fight? Why is it that almost on a daily basis we see more infighting? We see more Twitter intervention, we see more basically devouring your own party and talking about yourselves. You say that you want to unite and fight but it is simply not happening.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well I am talking about policy. I am talking about Australians right here and now with you Deb, and I'm talking about lower energy prices. I'm talking about how we are taking a big stick to the big energy companies who have delivered profits that are double what they were only a few short years ago - which is why we're taking extraordinary measures, but they need to be extraordinary measures. That's what I focus on every day. I spend no time thinking about these other issues. They are issues for the New South Wales Liberal Party.

DEB KNIGHT: Well many members of your own party do and are.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Deb, I want to talk to you and I want to talk to Australians and I do talk to Australians every day about the things that matter to them.

DEB KNIGHT: Do you concede though, Minister, that this is damaging for the Liberal Party and damaging for the Government? Do you make any concession that you are hurting here?

ANGUS TAYLOR: I'll tell you what would be damaging - what would be damaging is a Bill Shorten government. That's what would be damaging. We've seen over a million jobs created in our time in Government. Record levels of job creation.

DEB KNIGHT: But is this impacting on the morale at all of sitting members, of MPs, who are facing an electoral defeat on an epic scale?

ANGUS TAYLOR: I will tell you what impacts on people's mindset is the prospect of a Labor government. That's why we have to unite and fight, and that's why every day that's what I do as the Energy Minister and also as a local member. Look, I was out in south-western Sydney on the weekend - people want to see us succeed because they know the good work we are doing and I want to keep doing that good work.

DEB KNIGHT: All right, well on the issue of energy policy: Victoria and South Australia it seems are facing real fears of blackouts this summer. It is a major issue in those particular states. Will the Government be stepping in to try to stop this from happening?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well we have stepped in. AEMO, the market operator, has enacted its reserve trader provisions - that means effectively it has gone out and sourced extra capacity to meet demand and to manage demand so that we can get the balance right over the summer. These are measures that we had to put in place last summer. We're doing the same this summer, and of course we're bringing forward now reforms that will get energy companies thinking years ahead about making the investment they need to avoid these supply shortfalls. These are crucial reforms. We need the Victorian State Government and other state governments to back us on this. It is very, very important we get these reforms into place, and of course, for this summer the market operators are working very hard with the backing of the government to make sure that we get the balance right but it is incumbent on all governments across Australia to make sure that they're working with us to deliver Australians the right outcome on keeping the lights on this summer and future summers as well.

DEB KNIGHT: And you've got a new advertising campaign that you've launched to try to slash the cost of power bills for families and for businesses as well. Does this actually deliver any concrete savings or better deals for consumers or is it just an advice-type of advertisement?

ANGUS TAYLOR: We've delivered savings to Australian households which will come in on 1 January for all of those who are on standing offers. There's many Australians who aren't in a position to get in and negotiate each year with their energy company - even remembering to do it is hard enough.

DEB KNIGHT: But should you really be spending taxpayers' dollars on telling them to go to their power companies? I mean isn't it simply a type of advice that should be offered? Should we be launching campaigns in this way?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well we know that consumers do need a bit of information - many do - to be able to negotiate a better deal. If you go to the Powering Forward website, you'll see a few very simple tips about how you can ring your energy company and better get a better deal. We know 1.7 million Australians have gone and done that in recent times. There's more to go and we've got to make sure that customers know what they need to know to get a better deal. If they go to the Powering Forward website, they'll find lots of good information about how to do that. But for those who aren't in a position to negotiate each year, we're also making sure that standing offers come down and significant reductions that have been put forward over the last couple of weeks will come in on 1 January; up to 15 per cent cuts for those on the standing offers.

DEB KNIGHT: All right. Well that is some good news, and Minister, we will watch with interest to see what happens in Parliament during this final sitting week. Thanks for your time this morning.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks Deb.