Interview with Laura Jayes, Sky News

Laura Jayes
Emissions targets, COP26, National Party

LAURA JAYES: Nationals leader, meantime, Barnaby Joyce has handed his party's net zero demands to the Prime Minister after a third party room meeting this week. The Nationals have demanded a socioeconomic safeguard be implemented in the government's new climate agenda. MPs have raised concerns about the effect the net zero 2050 net zero target will have on the regions. Joining me live now is the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor. Angus Taylor thanks for your time. Are the concerns expressed by the Nationals fair concerns at this point? Have you been able to allay those concerns?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, the Nationals are rightly focused on the future of the regions and the future of critical industries in the regions like mining, agriculture, heavy manufacturing. They are my concerns to Laura and of course, the plan is all about making sure we strengthen those industries, not weaken them. The Nationals are absolutely right to focus on those issues. Look, at the end of the day, much of the work that has to be done to bring down emissions in a sensible way has to be done in regional areas. That's the reality of the situation and so we, as government are working through rightly, the focus that we need in order to make sure that we don't hurt those regions now, that means technology, not taxes, Laura. It means adapting to changing customer needs. The Japanese customers, Korean customers who we serve now from the regions are going to want different products over time, and we have to serve them and support them. That's what you do in business, it's what you do in markets, and that's what the National Party is concerned about their right to be but we're working that through. I'll tell you what is in our plan, the focus is on making sure that there's upside for the region's, not downside, that there are other ways to try to get to net zero, where it's all downside, imposing taxes, adding costs. That's not where we're going, I can assure you.

LAURA JAYES: When we're talking about net zero, is it net for the regions? You just admitted there that much of the work to get emissions down needs to be done in the regions. So will they be fully compensated for that? Whether it's a pause, a safeguard, whether it be a financial, whether it be a jobs guarantee.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, the one thing I can assure you of Laura, is we won't do anything that's going to destroy jobs in the regions. As I said, the starting point here, customer demand is changing and will continue to change in the coming decades. We're talking about 30 years here, and we must expect that but demand for our basic commodities will remain strong for a long time, too. It's not like the gas industry is disappearing overnight. That's for sure. Agriculture is still strong. We shouldn't pretend here these industries are going to be wiped out. There's lots of people who would like to wipe them out. Let's be clear. But that's not policy that we will ever accept. And in fact, there's upside. If you look at the hydrogen industry and the ammonia industry, it's growing fast. We're already a big participant, but it's growing fast and will continue to grow, and we have to be there.

LAURA JAYES: All right. You need something to take to Glasgow. Are you going to be able to take this headline target with agreement from the Nationals?

ANGUS TAYLOR: I'm very confident. I know we'll go to Glasgow with a net zero target. We've already got it. It's central to our policy. Laura, we've been talking about that for some time at the end of the day, though. What matters here is how you do it and there are two pathways. There's taxes, imposing costs, raising the costs of traditional energy sources in traditional industries and effectively then wiping them out or bringing down the cost of emerging technologies and strengthening those industries. That's the real debate, Laura. Everyone can talk as much as they like.

LAURA JAYES: Exactly and we're talking about a 2050 targeted. Now, I know you'd like to think that you might be in government until that time, but there's going to be a change of governments in that intervening three decades. So how can you possibly sit here and make promises and be able to keep them when it's a 2050 target?

ANGUS TAYLOR: What you can promise is that you're going to take the actions today, the position Australia over the coming decades, to a stronger economy and to lower emissions as you move towards net zero? Now, let's be clear. It's net. You're not going to wipe out all your emissions even by 2050. So you've got to offset those that you have. There's no doubt about that if you're getting towards that target. But we have time. We have technologies that are emerging fast on our side. We've seen that working. If you look at household solar, I mean, what an extraordinary story in Australia, the highest level in the world. People can see it as they drive around the suburbs. It's been a roaring success. That's how technology is adopted. That's how it succeeds. And we'll see that with other technologies emerging over time. But all of those must strengthen our traditional industries and our regions. That's our focus and will continue to be.

LAURA JAYES: Okay, we look forward to speaking to you early next week. We've got to leave it there. Angus Taylor, thanks so much for your time. As always, Glasgow is approaching.