Interview with Michael Rowland, ABC News Breakfast

Michel Rowland
Emissions targets, COP26

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Okay, back to the our story, the reaction to the federal government's net zero emissions by 2050 target, we're joined now by the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor. He's in Canberra. Minister, good morning.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good morning, Michael. Thanks for having me.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: It's great to have you on. Now, some of the early reactions haven't been that great for you. I'll go through a couple of them. Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes says there's no plan at all that you announced yesterday. He says it's just more bull dust - he used a stronger word but it's breakfast TV. A former treasury official and now economics professor Stephen Hamilton says selling a 2050 net zero target without a single change in policy is, in his view, truly laughable. Why wasn't there any policy change announced yesterday?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, we've been making policies changes for several years now, Michael. There's a number of people out there, including some of whom you talked about who want a carbon tax, I get it. But we're not putting in place a carbon tax. But what we have laid out over several years now is a technology investment roadmap, major reforms to ARENA, significant refunding of ARENA, reforms to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and funding of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, reforms to the Clean Energy Regulator, a focus on significant changes in broadening of the Emissions Reduction Fund. $20 billion of investment in our technology portfolio, a prioritisation of those technologies, hydrogen, low-emissions steel and aluminium, stored energy. We've added just in the last 24 hours low-cost solar, getting the cost of solar down to $15 a megawatt hour, something Australia has shaped for many years, the development of effective solar panels. We can do it again to the next stage. We've laid these things out over an extended period of time, and the good news is what the plan points out is that that puts us now within range of net zero 2050 and puts us in a position where we can establish that target for the country and do it in a way which is consistent with Australian values, which doesn't tell people what kind of car to drive or what kind of food to eat, but does provide a pathway for those technologies to bring down the cost of low-emissions products, and therefore Australians will choose those products exactly as we've seen with solar, where 1 in 4 Australians now have solar on their roofs, a technology which we've shaped from a long, long way back.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: If you're so keen on this plan, why don't you legislate it?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, we haven't needed to legislate to get to our Kyoto targets, our 2020 targets. We haven't needed to legislate to get to the point where we know we're going to meet and beat our Paris targets. Legislation without a plan, which is what's being proposed by the Labor Party, is a blank cheque. We don't write blank cheques.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: No, we're talking about your plan. But I just want to point out. So...

ANGUS TAYLOR: We don't write blank cheques. That's the point.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: The UK, German conservative governments have legislated their net zero 2050 targets. The world didn't fall in there. Why not legislate? And is the only reason you're not legislating is, it would blow up the Government with quite a few Nats not supporting it?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well look, we haven't legislated in the past. So you know, that is the approach we take. And unlike...

MICHAEL ROWLAND: This is a big deal, though. 2050 is a big international deal.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah, sure, but we actually deliver. Lots of the countries talk the talk. We walk the walk. We've delivered. We've delivered on Kyoto, consistently improved our position. We'll deliver on Paris. We'll meet and beat those targets. We've consistently improved our position. Lots of countries, lots of companies, lots of states and territories, they talk the talk. We deliver and we deliver in a transparent, responsible way, which is consistent with Australian values, which is consistent with what's good for this country, and we trust the Australian people to adopt these technologies as they continue to come down in costs.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: You raised the states, and many yes, talk the talk but they also deliver. New South Wales alone, the Coalition government there has committed to 50 per cent cuts by 2030. Why not follow their lead?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, let's see if the states deliver. But the difference is we're the ones...

MICHAEL ROWLAND: You don't trust what Matt Kean is saying about 50 per cent?

ANGUS TAYLOR: I'm just saying we're the ones who entered international agreements, we're the ones that put out quarterly emissions updates, every sector, every gas, in a way which is more transparent over an extended period of time than any other country in the world. We've done this for years. So we take this very seriously. We deliver on outcomes. The runs are on the scoreboard and we'll continue to put them on the scoreboard, doing it in the Australian way, a practical, responsible, evolutionary way forward, not with a carbon tax. Look, lots of those critics, they want a carbon tax, I get it. But that's not where we're going. Reducing the cost of low-emissions technology is the path forward, not increasing the cost of everything else, which is what those want with a carbon tax, whether it's direct or indirect. That's what they're after.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Well, the government's, the main line, in fact your mantra not just now but for some time has been technology not taxes. That is incorrect, right?

ANGUS TAYLOR: No. Technology not taxes is absolutely what we're doing.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:You're spending $20 billion as part of the road map over the next decade. Where is that $20 billion coming from?

ANGUS TAYLOR: We're not raising taxes. We're not raising taxes, Michael. We’re…

MICHAEL ROWLAND: But it is coming from taxes. It is coming from consolidated revenue. Taxes.

ANGUS TAYLOR: We are not raising taxes, Michael. We don't raise taxes...

MICHAEL ROWLAND: No-one is talking about raising taxes. You're talking about technology, not taxes. $20 billion is not coming from a tree. It's coming from the government's coffers. The government's coffers are filled with taxes.

ANGUS TAYLOR: It's come from responsible fiscal management, which means we don't have to raise taxes. Look, a carbon tax is a tax on those who can least afford it. There's lots of people bleating about it. They want a carbon tax. You know Labor wants a carbon tax. They've always wanted one…

MICHAEL ROWLAND: They've actually said- they've not said they want a carbon tax.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, they'll find a backdoor way. They'll tell people what kind of car to drive as they did at the last election, which means that the cars they're driving today will be more expensive. That's how Labor thinks about this problem. We don't.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Well, if you're accusing Labor of not being transparent, let's talk about transparency. Why the secrecy, Angus Taylor, about the modelling behind yesterday's plan?

ANGUS TAYLOR: There's no secrecy. Read the 128…

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Well, release the modelling.

ANGUS TAYLOR: The 128-page document, which few have bothered to read. We saw critics coming out within minutes before they'd read the 128-page document, talking as though they knew what was in it...

MICHAEL ROWLAND: But I'm asking specifically, our time is short and I know you've got other commitments. I'm asking specifically about the modelling. When will you release the modelling behind yesterday's plan?

ANGUS TAYLOR: The outcomes of the modelling- is what I was going to say. The outcomes of the modelling are laid out very clearly...

MICHAEL ROWLAND: But what about the modelling? When will you release the modelling?

ANGUS TAYLOR: The detail of the modelling will be released at an appropriate time. But the outcomes...

MICHAEL ROWLAND: When? When? No, this is a serious question and it's a serious policy. When is the appropriate time? Next week? Next month? Next year?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Today and yesterday is about laying out the plan and explaining the plan to Australians. There's a lot of detail in the plan. Many have not deemed their time worthwhile of actually reading it and I think they should. But what the plan lays out very clearly is a responsible pathway forward and the outcomes of the modelling are laid out very clearly, improving our GDP, $2000 per capita, bringing down emissions consistently...

MICHAEL ROWLAND: But how do we know that if we don't see the modelling? You say that but how do we know that without actually seeing the modelling?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, as I say, the modelling will be released at an appropriate time.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Is that good enough? Is that good enough not to release the modelling on the back of this plan?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Michael, you can keep asking this question, I've already answered it and I'll keep answering it...

MICHAEL ROWLAND: I'm asking on behalf of voters who'd like to see the modelling.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yes, and the outcomes of the modelling are laid out very clearly in the plan...

MICHAEL ROWLAND: But not the modelling.

ANGUS TAYLOR: And the further detail will be released at an appropriate time. But what you can see very clearly is a pathway forward which is responsible, which is practical, and in contrast to the opposition, we've been very clear about our plan. We don't even have a plan from Labor. We don't have even a plan from Labor, Michael, and that with a target that they've committed to without a plan, is absolutely irresponsible.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: We'll leave it there. Angus Taylor, appreciate your time. Thank you.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good on you. Thanks, Michael.