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Interview with Laura Jayes, Sky News

20 October 2020

Interviewer: 
Laura Jayes

Subject: Electricity prices, ACCC report, Badgerys Creek airport, Victorian economy

E&OE

LAURA JAYES: Good news, Australian households are paying less for electricity, but those who are customers of the ‘Big 3’ retailers are paying more. Let's go live now to the Energy Minister Angus Taylor, he joins us live from Canberra. Goods news this morning, the ACCC says prices are coming down, but the ‘Big 3’, perhaps, aren't pulling their weight. Is that right, Angus Taylor?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, certainly less so, Laura. We're seeing the biggest reductions from smaller players, which is why it's so important to shop around. 4.5 per cent reduction for standing offer customers - that's if you just stay with your existing plan without shopping around. 7.5 per cent reduction outside of that. Bigger reductions for small business customers in many cases. So, that's all good news. But the best way to make sure that you get a good deal and that you do get a reduction is to shop around. There's rarely been a better time than to shop around right now, we've made that a lot easier. There is a whole series of reforms that are driving this and making it easier also for customers to shop around. Get on the Energy Made Easy website, upload your bill, your last bill, it will help you to find the best possible plan for your circumstances. We've updated that website and made it much easier to compare and to switch, and as I say, there's rarely been a better time to do it.

LAURA JAYES: 4 per cent doesn't sound like all that much, Angus Taylor. So how much are we talking, on average, in dollar terms?

ANGUS TAYLOR: It depends on your starting point, Laura. But if you're a customer, you know, paying $1,500 then you get a $60 a year reduction, significantly more if you shop around. And so, there are real reductions out there if you shop around in particular. And I'll give you an example, I've shopped around with my own bill, and I watch this pretty closely and found savings on the Energy Made Easy website of $180. So, there's very significant savings there if you are in a position to shop around, and we strongly encourage people to do that. Small business customers, the numbers are much bigger. And, of course, the challenge right now is a lot of people have increased their usage during the pandemic, and so getting the price down is all important. So, get on the phone, even if you just ask your existing provider for a better deal, you will get savings, but the best savings are available if you go to multiple providers.

LAURA JAYES: Well, Scott Morrison loves to say that you're not just the Energy Minister, but the ‘Minister for Getting Energy Prices Down.’ When you first became the Energy Minister, how much did you promise to get prices down by?

ANGUS TAYLOR: We said we'd get wholesale energy prices down to below $70 per megawatt hour. Wholesale prices make up something like half of the bill, depending on where you are and the type of customer you are. In fact, we're seeing wholesale energy prices down at about $45 per megawatt hour right now. So, we've overshot that target. That's good news. That's starting to pass through to customers and as I say, the best way to get it to pass through right now is to get on the phone and ask for a better deal.

LAURA JAYES: Alright. Good advice. Now, I think a lot of our viewers yesterday were watching Senate estimates, shaking their heads over these land deals in Western Sydney. Now, you met with Louise Waterhouse over these land holdings near Western Sydney Airport. Corruption experts say that's a rarity, the meeting is a rarity for an average citizen. Do you dispute that?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Absolutely. I meet with people who have projects in my electorate on a regular basis, including in that area but right across my electorate, in Goulburn, in the Southern Highlands, in Boorowa and elsewhere. That's my job. That's what local members do. Look, Labor Senators who are asking these questions wouldn't understand that. They don't seem to understand what a constituent is and what a local project is. That's what local members do and it's appropriate that they should.

LAURA JAYES: Well, Daryl Maguire, did understand that all too well. Did he ever try to lobby you?

ANGUS TAYLOR: No. No. And Daryl Maguire, went well outside his electorate for those sorts of duties, if you want to call them that.

LAURA JAYES: Yeah.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Look, my focus is on my local constituents, and local projects that are job creating in my electorate. That's what I do every day. I'll continue to do it, Laura.

LAURA JAYES: Yep.

ANGUS TAYLOR: And Labor Senators should take notice of that.

LAURA JAYES: Badgerys Creek is such an important infrastructure project for not just Sydney, but New South Wales, which does take in your constituents. We've seen, you know, these secret deals and I think people are a little bit wary as seeing that a piece of land worth $3 million was bought for $30 million. Is there a problem here with confidence in the community about this project? Do you think there needs to be a fuller investigation into some of these land deals done on the side? 

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, there is. That's being done. And I note that the secretary of the infrastructure department, as the relevant department, is doing exactly that, Laura, and that's appropriate, as it should be. Look, none of that distracts from the enormously important role that the new Sydney Airport and the new city around that region will play in outer western Sydney and southwest. Look, it's enormously important because it'll create jobs, it'll drive investment. And as we come out of the coronavirus, very big infrastructure projects going on there - they're all crucially important. It is true that things need to be done the right way, and it's appropriate that the secretary should be inquiring into that. But, at the same time, this is enormously important for Sydney as it grows.

LAURA JAYES: Finally, Victoria, I know it's a bit out of your remit, as a member for New South Wales. But, we need the Victorian economy firing. We all need it, it's one of the strongest engines that we have. Is it a concern to you that the lines of communication have clearly broken down between the two most powerful Victorians, being Daniel Andrews and Josh Frydenberg?

ANGUS TAYLOR: What matters is we get the right outcome in Victoria and that is crucially important, Laura. We do need to see the economy opening up. We do need to see businesses getting back on their feet again. We are seeing good health outcomes. So, now is the time to really focus on the economy and small businesses. Look, if you're a small business person and you've been in lockdown for months on end, this is an extremely trying situation and their voices need to be heard in all of this. And, you know, the right focus at the moment for everybody is on lives, yes, and health, absolutely, but also on livelihoods and making sure that our economy is strong. You know, Labor right now in the Federal Parliament is all over the shop. They can't even make up their mind what their energy policies are. They're paralysed by indecision and division. We've all got to focus on making sure that we are getting the economy back up and running, people back into work, investment starting to happen again, and strong economy which we had before the pandemic struck.

LAURA JAYES: Angus Taylor, thank you.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks, Laura.