Interview with Richard King and Shanna Bull, 2HD

Richard King and Shanna Bull
Net zero emissions by 2050

RICHARD KING:        We've also had quite a bit of feedback on the release yesterday, or the big announcement from the PM and Angus Taylor, our Energy Minister and Emissions Reduction Minister. And in fact, he's now on the line. Good morning, Minister. 

SHANNA BULL:        Morning.

ANGUS TAYLOR:    G’Day. How are you? 

RICHARD KING:        Yeah, very well, thank you. Boy, you've been doing a lot of talking in the last 24 hours, Minister. Look, we, we did speak to Pat Conroy - obviously, he's a local, he's the member for Shortland and will be going to Glasgow as an observer and representing the Opposition. He had this to say on the, the policy announcement yesterday:

    [Excerpt of Pat Conroy]

PAT CONROY:        Well, it's a joke, to be frank. They made this big hullabaloo about this announcement, and then they've sort of kept talking about having plan. But what they've got is a 15-page PowerPoint presentation that actually has no concrete details about how they're going to get to net zero by 2050. They, they literally state in the documents that this is all based on existing policies. It's an embarrassment and it means that Australia, under these policies, won't get anywhere near net zero and we'll lose the economic opportunities that are there for the taking.

    [End of excerpt]

RICHARD KING:        You obviously disagree vehemently with Pat Conroy, Minister.

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Well, he gives away how little he understands. This was 128-page document, and Labor went and made the press conference before they'd actually even seen it. I watched Chris Bowen get it after he'd done his press conference. Labor politicise everything. Let's be clear about Pat Conroy. Pat Conroy has always wanted a carbon tax. He's always wanted a carbon tax. He wants to raise the cost of traditional fuel sources. He's happy to see traditional industries destroyed, and he's backed that for many, many, many years. When we saw a carbon tax introduced in this country back a number of years ago, we saw one in eight manufacturing jobs lost. We saw places like Kurri Kurri lose their businesses - there was a smelter there, as you know, Richard, that, that was closed as a result of establishing the carbon tax. That's not the way to do it. The way to do this is to bring down the cost of low emissions technologies - whether it's hydrogen, whether it's stored energy, solar, carbon capture and storage. Those technologies are coming down in cost rapidly - we need to drive that. Australia can shape that for many of those technologies, and that means people will choose them because it's good for them. Not because they're forced to, not because they're taxed, and that makes them buy those low emissions technologies  because it's actually in their interest to do it. It strengthens the economy, it creates jobs, and it particularly protects the lives and livelihoods of those working in traditional industries like agriculture, heavy manufacturing and, of course, resources. 

SHANNA BULL:        Can you explain to our listeners, Angus, why your Government have decided to stay with the climate policy the Government took to the 2019 election?

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Well, we've adapted our climate policies much in the last two years. This is where Pat's got it, it wrong again. We've made a whole series of announcements, many of which I've talked to you about on 2HD. We've talked about what we're doing on hydrogen hubs, carbon capture and storage hubs. We're changing the emissions reduction fund methodologies, broadening them out so a whole lot more technologies that can get access to the incentives that that provides. We're creating a voluntary market where corporates who want to reduce their emissions can pay farmers to store more carbon in their soils and regenerate their soils. These are policies we've been putting in place for the last several years. Now, you may be referring to our target at the last election, the 26 to 28 per cent reduction target. We're already 20.8 per cent down towards that. We went to an election with this target. Labor went to the election with a 45 per cent target without a plan. We won that election. We're not moving from what the Australian people endorsed. But I tell you what we're doing, we're meeting and beating those targets. We're on track. 

RICHARD KING:        Well, I was going to say, all the figures seem to indicate you're on track to get to 30 to 35 per cent. Is it possible that the Government might amend their target sometime in the near future?

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Well, when we go to the Australian people and we say this is what our target is, and they vote on that, that's what we stick with but we meet and beat it. Targets for us is a floor, not a cap - that's how we see it. 

RICHARD KING:        Okay.

ANGUS TAYLOR:    We like to beat them. Look, and you know, I've played sport all my life. I continue to, I set targets and I love to beat them. That's what Australians love to do. 

SHANNA BULL:        Did yourself or the Prime Minister consult any climate experts before releasing the plan? 

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Many. We've had an enormous amount of advice along the way. Look, our Technology Investment Advisory Committee headed by Alan Finkel, who is one of the great thinkers on low emissions technologies, and how those low emissions technologies can be deployed, and how we can bring down the cost to them, he led that work for us. You know, we've added that ultra low cost solar, getting the cost of solar down to $15 a megawatt a hour we announced yesterday. Of course, again, Pat Conroy wouldn't know that because he hasn't read the document but these are really important policies that have been advised on by a range of different experts in their fields. We're very confident they're the right policies to ensure that we strengthen Australia, we grow our economy at the same time as bringing down emissions.

RICHARD KING:        Look, you mentioned the hydrogen again, and we have spoken on that subject a number of times. A lot of people have criticised the announcement yesterday as not being a, you know, a plan to get to zero emissions. It's a technology development plan, rather than a, you know, a plan to get to 2050 zero emissions. 

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Well, no. It's both. It's both. Most of those people, I know them, I've been around this space for a long while. The people saying that mostly are the people who want a carbon tax. They've been long-term advocates for a carbon tax. They don't trust the Australian people. They want to tell the Australian people what kind of car to drive, what kind of food to eat, what kind of electricity to buy. That's not how we do it. You know, we believe in choice. We don't believe in mandates, we don't believe in telling people what to do, imposing a tax on them to make them do something else. You know, you didn't, you didn't get the motorcar prospering and creating enormous prosperity in people's lives over a hundred years ago by taxing the horse. You did because Henry Ford was a great entrepreneur and engineer and worked out how to mass produce a product that large numbers of people could buy. So, it's exactly the same with these low emissions technologies. We're seeing it working. If you want an illustration of this, look at solar. We've shaped the development of solar, solar worldwide; 90 per cent of the solar you- solar panels you buy, has Australian intellectual property in it. One in four houses now has solar on their roof, just drive around the suburbs, we all see it. That is a uniquely Australian contribution. It's working, it's bringing down emissions and it's not just bringing down emissions in Australia, it's doing it all over the world. 

SHANNA BULL:        The Prime Minister has said there will be no cost to jobs. Do you think this is a realistic guarantee for the Prime Minister to be giving it this time? 

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Yes, absolutely. Now, it is true that demand from our offshore customers for our products is changing over time - there's no question about that. Our Japanese customers, our Korean customers, of course, in Newcastle, you know, the Japanese customers have been absolutely central to building the largest coal export port in the world. What they want is evolving. It's no revolution, but it'll change, and is changing over time, and we can provide that. They want to put ammonia into their coal-fired generators, we can produce ammonia here in Australia. Indeed, we produce ammonia now in Newcastle. So, this is not new to us. We know how to do it, and we can provide that. We have to evolve with our customers. That's what all good businesses and all good countries do, evolve as your customers' demand changes. And that way we can protect the jobs and support the jobs in those traditional industries that are the backbone of this country - mining, agriculture, heavy manufacturing.

RICHARD KING:        At 2HD. It's coming up to a 8.45. Our guest, Australia's Energy Minister and the Emissions Reduction Minister, Angus Taylor. Now, you're heading to Scotland with the PM. Do you have any expectations about what might come out of this conference? 

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Look, what I'm focused on is Australia's contribution how Australia deals with the changing world around us, and making sure that we're looking after Australians, Australian industry, Australian jobs. That's my number one focus. It is important for us to make a contribution globally. There's no doubt about that. But we've got to do it in a way which is distinctive to us. We are very unusual in being a developed country that's also one of the biggest commodity exporters in the world - 40 per cent of our emissions come from our exports. That puts us in a unique position where we have an important role to play. And one of the key roles is for us to partner with countries around the world to develop these technologies as fast as we possibly can. And that's exactly what we're doing. We're investing more than $500 million in international partnerships to bring down the cost of these technologies, working with other countries, particularly our customer countries like Japan, to make sure that these are technologies that can strengthen the Australian economy and strengthen our traditional industries. 

SHANNA BULL:        And look, a lot of the head honchos are going to be at this climate conference. Are you looking forward to meeting anyone in particular? 

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Look, it's not the first time I've been to, so, so I've met lots of the people before of course.

SHANNA BULL:        What about the Royals? 

ANGUS TAYLOR:    I haven't met the Royals. I haven't met the Royals, but I'm not sure which of the Royals are going to be there. 

RICHARD KING:        No, the Queen's not going now.

SHANNA BULL:        The Queen's not. No.

ANGUS TAYLOR:    The Queen's not going by the sounds of things. Look, it's an important conference. But I'll be telling the Australian story, our achievements - 20.8 percent reduction on emissions since 2005, That's better than so many other countries around the world. It's a great story to tell. I'm very proud to represent Australia at a conference like this. 

RICHARD KING:        I know we've spoken about this PEP 11, but now, apparently, as part of the deal with the Nationals to get the agreement on the 2050 net zero emissions, Keith Pitt will become a Cabinet Minister. Does that mean you'll lean on him now to make a call on this PEP 11? Because I think everybody's been sitting around waiting for about 12 months now for a call on this one. 

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Well, it's a decision, it's a decision for, Keith and so, it's got to go through the process. I've talked about this before, Richard.

RICHARD KING:        Yes. I know. It seems a very slow process. All right, look, you mentioned you are a sport lover - changing the subject. You'd be very happy that the English cricket team will definitely be coming out for an Ashes series? 

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Yeah, look, that's great news. It would have been a tragedy to lose the Ashes. I'm, I am a cricket tragic and there's nothing I love more over that Christmas, New Year period than, than watching some good cricket, so, that's great news.

RICHARD KING:        All right. Safe trip over to Scotland. Look forward to hearing the outcome when you return. 

ANGUS TAYLOR:    Good on you. Thanks for having me.