Interview with Gareth Parker, 6PR

Gareth Parker
AdBlue, electricity prices, emissions reduction

GARETH PARKER: The Minister, Angus Taylor, Federal Energy and Industries Minister, joins me on the program. Angus, good morning.

ANGUS TAYLOR: G’day Gareth. Thanks for having me.

GARETH PARKER: So, I don't know if you know off the top of your head, but a few people have told us this morning that very much with the issue that Daryl's raising about ambulances and fire trucks, as well as just the trucking industry. Is that your understanding?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah, most diesel vehicles, not all, some of the smaller diesel vehicles don't use AdBlue. I have a diesel vehicle, and I use AdBlue - some well aware of how it works. And nearly all trucks will use it. But just to come back to your point upfront, look, we have about seven weeks of stocks, both on the ground and on approach to Australia right now. That is actually in line with normal levels. It's tight globally though so it's a situation we are keeping an eye on. What we don't- what's not necessary and certainly not helpful, is people going out and buying additional stocks right now. That's our greatest challenge, not indeed the supply lines. We’ll do everything we need to make sure we've got the supply lines at appropriate an appropriate level. We've established a task force to make sure that is the case, headed by James Fazzino, who has a background in production of urea. He ran Incitec in Australia for many years, as well as Andrew Liveris, who has deep international connections into urea producers around the world. So using that phenomenal expertise and experience will make sure we've got our supply chains intact. What's really important is that people just buy as per normal, and they can have confidence that there is enough supply coming into the country.

GARETH PARKER: Minister, it sounds like AdBlue is the new toilet paper.

ANGUS TAYLOR: I wouldn't say that. 

GARETH PARKER: But it's a similar dynamic though, isn't it? I mean, it's that fear-based response that says we might not be able to get this stuff, let's get as much as we can.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah, but it's unnecessary and it's unhelpful, and it's really important people just remain calm. There is enough AdBlue in the country to get around. We can make sure that we keep trucks on the road. We have to keep trucks on the road, of course, and keep commuters and motorists working, doing what they do every day. And this taskforce is there to make sure that people can have confidence that we're going to have the supplies we need. We also make it locally. Incitec makes it locally at Gibson Island, Brisbane And we're working with them to make increase their production if that's necessary as well.VThere’s a range of options available to us.

GARETH PARKER: Do we make enough of it locally?

ANGUS TAYLOR: We make a lot of urea locally. Most of the urea, it's actually the same material as you use in fertiliser And so most of that fertiliser, that urea, goes into agricultural fertiliser, because we're big users of agricultural fertiliser in Australia. So, diverting more of it to AdBlue is something we can look at and are looking at as an alternative. What we don't want to do is disrupt fertiliser markets as well, of course. So, you know, getting the balance right is part of this, but there are many sources. We've been in contact already with countries who supply this around the world, and we're making good progress on that. So people can have confidence this is something we're absolutely on top of.

GARETH PARKER: Except that every other country in the world is reportedly doing the same thing as well because this is a global issue. So, I mean, isn't this the problem that globally there is a shortage here?

ANGUS TAYLOR: There is a global disruption, there’s no question about that, driven by gas. It's actually the shortage of gas globally that has created the challenge here. But you've got to remember, we're a big gas supplier to the world. We have very good relationships with those countries. We supply the gas to the companies that make your urea so we are in an extremely good position to manage our way through this.

GARETH PARKER: I mean, there's so much talk during COVID about bringing essential supply chains back on shore. This sounds like another one we should be doing more of, given that we've got the raw materials in abundance.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah, that's exactly right, Gareth and in fact, we are working very closely on increasing local fertiliser manufacturing, which would also create the opportunity to create AdBlue locally. Indeed, in Western Australia, so Yara fertiliser, we're working closely with, and we're investing in a project with them to try and expand production. We're looking at what Strike Energy is doing down around Perth. There’s some really big opportunities to increase our local manufacturing. And we've got local consortia and companies who are working on those projects now. So that's something we're very closely involved with.

GARETH PARKER: Angus Taylor, with your Energy Minister’s hat on, yesterday I spoke to the Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese on the program, who confirmed for I think for the first time, that his $275 power bill cut promise from his new climate change policy doesn't apply to Western Australia because we're not part of the National Grid. So, that was news to everyone. But also, I went over with him the idea that his 2030 target of 43 per cent emissions cuts did they have room, I guess, for Western Australia's expanding emissions that are going to happen as new gas developments come on, particularly with Woodside approving Scarborough. What do you make of all of that?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, the first point I'd make is that they’ve promised electricity price reductions, which we completely reject - we think that methodology is completely flawed in how they’ve thought about this. It does- regardless of that, it doesn't apply to WA. That's very clear. It applies to the national electricity market and WA is not part of the national electricity market. So the people of WA are going to be paying for their $20 billion fund, which is supposed to be part of what achieves this, and getting absolutely nothing in return. And we do think that's completely be unfair to WA. The second point I'd make, Gareth, is that the emissions reductions, on top of ours, we're on target for 35 per cent on existing policies. But what they're looking for on top of that will apply to WA. There's significant emissions reductions that are required out of Industry. That's where they're targeting their policies, is emissions reductions in the industry. That will add cost to industry. It will curb the growth of industry and we're deeply concerned about that. Now, where does gas exports fit into that? Where do iron ore exports fit into that? It is very unclear but I tell you, I've worked in those industries. I know that adding extra cost will make them less competitive and will potentially curb growth of those industries, and curb growth of WA in the process.

GARETH PARKER: According to Anthony Albanese, there will be a carve-out for trade exposed industries, including LNG, but the details are yet to be worked out.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, no, let's be clear about this. Iron ore has never been a trade exposed industry under Labor policies and it's very unclear whether LNG would be either. So, you know, and if they carve everything out, a very small number of companies are going to wear all of the costs. They are transport companies moving our food around. So, if that's where their policy is going, they need to be very honest with Australians about that.

GARETH PARKER: Angus Taylor, thanks for time.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks Gareth.

GARETH PARKER: The Federal Energy and Industry Minister.