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Interview with Laura Jayes, Sky News

12 November 2020

Interviewer: 
Laura Jayes

Subject: Australia's emissions reduction targets

E&OE

LAURA JAYES: Well, Australia is committed to a net zero emissions target, however should that be met by 2050, it won’t follow the footsteps of US climate policy, which could harm carbon intensive export industries. Joining me now live is Energy Minister, Angus Taylor. Angus Taylor, thanks for your time, does a Joe Biden presidency change anything at all for us?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, we set our policies, we set our targets, Laura, and we have a great story to tell about our track record on emissions reduction. But, we’ve done it in a way which is distinctively Australian. We have a very significant exports sector, which is emissions intensive - agriculture, resources - but, in doing that, we reduce emissions globally. So we have an important role to play in this, but we also have important role to play globally in the technologies that we develop. We’ve got an incredible success story over a long period of time of developing new energy industries, new energy supply chains, whether it is coal or gas, now hydrogen of course playing a very significant role in the coming years, and we’re already a participant in that industry. And, you know, that technology focus of Australia, that innovative focus that we’ve always had, in a country that is resource heavy, is one that we will continue to play. Now, the good news is the US has always been very technology oriented too. I note that President-elect Biden has, in the United States, he’s noted that there’s a very significant number of carbon capture and storage projects in the United States. Almost half of the world’s projects – there’s about just over 50 projects across the world. And he said he’ll double down on carbon capture and storage, and I’m sure the US will double down on a number of the technologies that we’re focused on. We look forward to working with them on those.

LAURA JAYES: Okay. Well we’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on that. Now we just need a concession out of the United States, and an inauguration in January as well, I’m sure it will be full steam ahead. Moving back home now, Joel Fitzgibbon’s moved to the back bench this week, does it demonstrate that there’s a big city-regional divide, when it comes to emissions target and climate change policy? And this is a problem that the Coalition has as well.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, we’re united – there’s no problem there, Laura - we’re extremely united. We know what our policies are-

LAURA JAYES: I think - yes. But recent history does show that there are a fraught internal ideological debates as well. I mean, Malcolm Turnbull’s been reminding us of this all this week. 

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, you’re going back a while now. I think the last couple of years and in the lead up to the last election, we were extremely united. And I’ll tell you why, and this is such an important point, Laura, is we’re getting the balance right. You’ve got to get the balance right in a country like Australia - agriculture, resources, transport sectors, manufacturing, 850,000 Australians working in manufacturing, much of which is energy intensive - those jobs matter, and as we come out of the pandemic into recovery, those jobs really matter. It is crucial then, that government policy get this balance right, between deploying technologies that allow us to bring emissions down without imposing costs on the economy, without destroying jobs, without destroying industries in regions. But at the same time, we are nurturing those critical industries like resources, and the others that I mentioned. And the reason we’re united is we are getting that balance right, and the reason Labor is divided, paralysed by division and indecision is because they are not getting the balance right. And you only have to listen to Jennie George out today, saying they have, describing Labor’s positions as uncosted policies, with, you know, feel good targets. So, that is the approach-

LAURA JAYES: Okay. Well, do you agree with everything that Matt Kean has to say in New South Wales because a lot of these new projects, and whether they get up and running, comes down to the states?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, the states play an important role in our Federation, and I don’t need to tell you that, Laura, as we’ve come through coronavirus, we’ve all seen that. And we work with them, I mean, the whole point of collaborative, sort of, approach to federalism which we’ve been taking is to work with the states. The good news about what we’ve seen in the New South Wales policies is this is the first state government to recognise that you actually have to have a balance in your energy system. You have to have dispatchable generation. You have to have firming. You have to make sure that that record number of household solar units going on people’s houses is balanced with dispatchable power.

LAURA JAYES: Yeah.

ANGUS TAYLOR: And the New South Wales Government’s done that. It’s important, it’s crucially important, that they don’t prematurely force out our big coal and gas generators, the aging ones, you know, if you see them go out early, you get a Hazelwood situation or a Northern situation we saw in South Australia where prices are forced up. So, getting the balance right. And Australians understand, whether it is bringing down emissions, whether it is energy policy and electricity policy, the focus that ensures that we get that affordable, reliable energy as we’re bringing down our emissions is all about balance. And that’s the approach we’re taking. It is why we’re united. It is why the Labor Party is divided, because the ideological zealots have got control in there, and Joel Fitzgibbon is calling them out.

LAURA JAYES: Well, would you call Matt Kean an ideological zealot if he’s pushing for a greater impact, a greater more ambitious target on emissions reduction from the Federal Government?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, the state government sets whatever targets they like. The Federal Government targets are clear. We’ve got a 2030 target – I’ll note that Labor does not have a 2030 target, which is extraordinary.

LAURA JAYES: Yeah.

ANGUS TAYLOR: I mean, you can’t be a party to the Paris Agreement without a 2030 target. Our targets are clear, we’re getting on with the job, we meet and beat them, and we do it in a way which strengthens the economy, ensures that there’s job creation, ensures that there’s investment in these critical industries, and getting that balance right is important. And the New South Wales Government is the first state government to recognise in their energy system when they make these interventions, they’ve got to get the balance right. We’ll work with them closely to make sure we do get that balance right.

LAURA JAYES: Yeah. Could I just ask you about the Maxwell Underground Coal Mine – and again, this is a state issue – it’s before the IPC for the fifth time. It’s being opposed by two big horse studs in the Hunter Valley region, Joel Fitzgibbon’s region, one of them being Godolphin. Does it show once again, that coal mines, new coal mines like this aren’t universally popular?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, it’s a development. All developments go through those state government planning processes. This is the appropriate way. We want to see a strong resources sector in this country, particularly as we come out of the coronavirus, recovery. You know, job creation is so central, and the resource industry is important to that. But every project has to go through its local and state planning processes. And it appears to me that is exactly what is happening. It has been through the state government process. It has gone to the IPC, the IPC is having hearings. That’s how the New South Wales process works. And it is important that, with all of these things, we get the balance right between local community concerns and the important need for job creation and investment in these industries that are so important to this great country.

LAURA JAYES: Now, Minister, you know that former prime ministers do tend to carry a lot of weight once they speak publicly on certain issues. What do you think of Malcolm Turnbull’s constant intervention on issues like climate change?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, he’s free to say as he wishes. And you know, it’s important we do show respect for former prime ministers, and it’s up to him. But I mean, the important point about our policies is we’re getting this balance right. And as I say, coming out of coronavirus, so crucially important, Laura. And we will continue to drive down this path which has seen an extraordinary level of support and unity from our side of politics. I think we have the Australian people, I know we have the Australian people behind us. Regional Australia in particular needs these jobs. Regional Australia is always hungry for jobs, employment and opportunity. And we’re seeing what we have here in our government policies is a focus that is doing exactly that. The extraordinary thing is we are doing it at the same time as bringing down emissions. Meeting and beating our Kyoto targets. We’re on track to meet and beat our Paris targets. You know, this is just keep focussed, get that balance right. And it is working, and it will continue to work, I am very confident of that Laura.

LAURA JAYES: Okay. Angus Taylor, we’ll speak soon, we’ll check in on those targets. Appreciate it.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good on you.

Media contact:

Minister Taylor's office: 02 6277 7120