Interview with Peta Credlin, Sky News

Peta Credlin
Emissions targets, Glasgow climate summit; international emissions, lithium, Afghanistan.

PETA CREDLIN:  Well Labor is picking a fight with the Morrison Government over climate change. In a speech to the Better Futures Forum today, Opposition Climate Change Spokesman Chris Bowen blasted the Prime Minister for not adopting a more ambitious medium-term emissions target ahead of the Glasgow Climate Summit in November. It follows an earlier statement from Bowen that a net zero by 2050 target is, quote, the bare minimum. The Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, joins me now from Goulburn in New South Wales. Minister, thank you for your time. Does the Government have any intention of updating its 2030 emissions target?

ANGUS TAYLOR:  Well, we update our projections every year, Peta. We've been doing that for many years, right back from when we came into government in 2013. But I'll tell you what we heard from Chris Bowen today, complete hypocrisy, where he said, on the one hand, there should be strong 2030 targets but he wasn't prepared to say what Labor's would be. The truth is, Peta, he implied, as he always does, that he would like to have a very aggressive 2030 target, just like they did at the last election. We saw what happened with that, where they wanted to reduce, halve emissions, and the only way they were going to do that was by hurting our economy, particularly hurting our industry, our agriculture. That's clearly what Bowen wants to do. Taxes are his favourite policy, but he can't bring himself to say it, so instead, he just hurls abuse at others. 

PETA CREDLIN: Do you feel Labor is reacting to what effectively has been your neutralisation of the issue of climate change going into the next election? You're talking technology, not taxes. You've got, I think, considerable support in the business community for a measured response. Labor, are they trying to pick a fight with you?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, I don't quite know what they're trying to do, Peta. It's actually very confusing, other than that, they would really love to go back to the policies of the 2019 election. You know, what we've done is we've said we're not going to trade off the economy for emissions reduction. We can actually continue to reduce emissions, and we've done extremely well in Australia. We can be proud of what we've achieved, but we've done it without destroying sectors, without destroying the regions, who would be the most impacted by very aggressive policies, without shutting down the mining industry or cattle, which is one of the targets of the activists. We don't need to do that. We do sensible things and you're right. I think that's meant that many people have come on board with a sensible set of policies focused on using technology, not taxes, to reduce emissions.

PETA CREDLIN: I want to get your reaction to another statement today from Dr Jonathan Pershing. He's a right hand man to the climate tsar, the US Climate Tsar, John Kerry. He says it would really be helpful to see Australia move forward with a more ambitious effort, more ambitious he says. What the science is telling us is the pathway needs to be more aggressive. Pretty strong words from the United States, but if you look at their record, you look at China, you look at India, why is the pressure being heaped on Australia?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, the critics should look at the scoreboard. The critics should look at the scoreboard, Peta, because since 2005, we've reduced our emissions by 20 per cent. That's more than the United States. I repeat that. That's more than the United States. It's more than Japan. It's more than Canada. It's more than New Zealand. Both Canada and New Zealand have barely reduced their emissions and it’s certainly more than China. China has increased its emissions in the last two decades by 200 per cent. It's now almost a third of global emissions. So Australia has a very, very good track record on that. We've been able to maintain critical industries like mining, like agriculture at the same time, and I think there's much others can learn about what we've been doing, which is deploying technology, household solar, highest rate in the world in Australia. Many of your viewers tonight will have solar on their roofs. Just simple, practical things that we're doing in Australia. It's challenging. There's no doubt about that but I think the critics should take a good look at how well we're doing and how Australia does it our way, which is delivering. We get the outcomes and that's the Australian way.

PETA CREDLIN: I read some interesting statistics today. Obviously, there's a big push that we all go electric. We have electric cars, et cetera. We've had batteries. We’ve had a big battery fire in Victoria, very disturbing battery fire. But I read some statistics today that Afghanistan has the world's largest resources of lithium and, of course, lithium is in the batteries. It runs the whole electric world. How concerning is that?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, I mean, lithium is an important mineral now, and in fact, we have a lot of it here in Australia and we're building that industry, building that industry out. There's no doubt that the supply of lithium, whether it's in Australia or in other countries like Afghanistan is going to be an enormous demand. I mean, the situation in Afghanistan obviously is very concerning right now, Peta. We're all watching very closely. I think it's tragic for our servicemen who have been over there. I know they're feeling that very much and those in Afghanistan who worked alongside us. So, it's a tough time and we want the Afghanistan economy to be up and running and we want their lithium production to be up and running, too. I think that that would be a good outcome.

PETA CREDLIN: Not so much of the money is going to a terrorist state like the Taliban, I suspect, but that's where we are tonight. Angus Taylor, thank you for your time.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good on you. Thanks, Peta.