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Interview with Peta Credlin, Sky News Live

5 October 2020

Peta Credlin

Subject: Budget, gas


PETA CREDLIN: Joining me now is the Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor from Canberra. Thank you for your time, Minister. Budget eve we are now. We already know there's $53 million been allocated for gas market interventions in the Budget tomorrow night. Can we expect more in terms of gas or energy more broadly?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, I think we've made some pretty fundamental announcements in the last couple of weeks. There's a comprehensive plan across gas to unlock those east coast gas markets. Making sure our electricity markets work including replacement of Liddell. Liquid fuel security making sure we've got the diesel in particular but other liquid fuels we need to make sure our industry, our manufacturing is successful in the face of disruptions that might occur in the future. So, it's a very comprehensive plan. Gas is right at the centre of it, Peta, as you said. And we know gas is important for manufacturing. Not just because it provides energy, but because it's a feedstock to critical industries like fertiliser for agriculture, ammonium nitrate for the mining industry, plastics for PPE equipment. So, it is an absolutely crucial feedstock and energy source, and that's why we're very focussed on making sure domestic gas in Australia is working for Australians.

PETA CREDLIN: I did note Labor's energy spokesman Mark Butler saying that, and I'll quote him: “Now 20 years into the 21st century, we know that coal and gas won't underpin continued prosperity, whether for Australia or the rest of the world". And I saw a report this morning in The Australian Financial Review that indeed in the UK, there's been an approval - I think it's the first approval in three or four decades - for a new coal mine in Cumbria, a new colliery, and they are expecting an extraction of nearly 3 million tonnes of coal annually. I suppose someone has got to update Mark Butler, don't they?

ANGUS TAYLOR: When Mark Butler can explain to farmers in Australia how their fertiliser is going to be produced in the absence of gas, then he might start to look like he's got a plan. But he's got no plan. He's got Joel Fitzgibbon who is on the other side saying that he's completely wrong, and others in the Otis group along with Joel saying that Mark Butler's completely wrong. Look, they're totally divided on their energy policy. We're getting on with it and it's critical, Peta, we get this right, because if Australian manufacturing is to be what we want it to be in the coming years - as the Prime Minister said, Australia's going to be a place for decades to come where we make things - then we do need an affordable, reliable supply of gas along with electricity, along with liquid fuels. And that's why this has been such an important set of announcements in the lead-up to the election. The good news is we're making good progress, but there's much further to go. We know that. And that's why these components of our plan around gas, electricity and liquid fuels are so important.

PETA CREDLIN: I've got to ask you, if you're talking about divisions, I did note that Anthony Albanese has instructed his MPs, as reported, not to take a position in relation to Narrabri, a New South Wales gas project. But, of course, you've got the minister, the Environment Minister in New South Wales, Matt Kean, labelled by the PM as being a bit out of step in relation to gas. Your counterpart in New South Wales, he's Liberal, supposedly. He's not a fan of gas. What would you say to him?

ANGUS TAYLOR: I'd say that all of those opposing the Narrabri gas development and gas more generally, unlocking supply, which is a critical part of our plan, I'd say to all of them that you're against manufacturing, you're against agriculture, and you're against the interests of New South Wales and Australia. I mean, we absolutely need a good supply of gas to produce those critical industries. Look, you know, tonight, when you eat your dinner, a lot of people wouldn't realise that much of that food now or most of it is produced as a result of fertiliser which comes from methane, from gas. So, we need it. It is absolutely essential to the success of our manufacturing, our agriculture, our food processing. All of those industries rely on it. And those who are out railing against it need to explain how are we going to feed the world? How are we going to transport critical goods? How are we going to heat our homes? How are we going to supply affordable electricity? All of those things are absolutely dependent on affordable, reliable supply of gas.

PETA CREDLIN: Do you think perhaps tomorrow night when people understand the financial commitment the Government has put forward to keep people safe and to try and at least look after them economically through the worst of this health crisis component, of COVID-19, that they'll be mugged by the reality? That in order to pay it back and get our recovery underway, we have to have reliable, affordable energy, and forefront of that has to be gas, as you say? The Prime Minister also saying you can't talk about energy, electricity generation and ignore coal either. The people will be mugged by the reality that we've just got to come to grips with, yes, lowering emissions, but also not treating enough fossil fuels like kryptonite anymore?

ANGUS TAYLOR: No, that's absolutely right, and taking it a sensible, pragmatic, measured way through all of this is the key. You know, the focus until now has been on cushioning the blow from the coronavirus. From tomorrow night, in the lead-up to the Budget, you've seen a very strong focus on recovery – how are we going to recover? And if we're to recover in those industries that drive much of regional Australia, outer suburbs, the manufacturing in places like Western Sydney, then we do need that supply, reliable source of energy and gas. And that will feature in the Budget, as it's featured in recent weeks, Peta. And we need the Labor Party to get on board here. I mean, Joel Fitzgibbon, as mentioned earlier, has seen how important this is. But it's not just him. We've seen the AWU, the CFMEU has said that Labor's position is an insult to workers. An insult to workers, Peta. So, it's time to jump on board here, to get a consensus. We've got a strong sense of direction from the Government about where we're going on this, it's time for Labor to jump on board. And the sensible people out there, and there's many out in middle Australia, I know, are backing manufacturing, agriculture, transport, as critical industries to ensure that we can recover from the virus, we can get the economy back up and running, and we can get ourselves back to a strong economic position because strong economic growth as you know, jobs growth, is absolutely central to that.

PETA CREDLIN: Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, thank you for your time. Good luck tomorrow.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks for having me, Peta.