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Interview with Stephen Cenatiempo, 2CC

6 April 2021

Interviewer: 
Stephen Cenatiempo

Subject: Vaccine rollout, electric vehicles, Jim Molan

E&OE

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: It's time to talk Federal Politics with our regular Tuesday panel. This morning, joining us is the Liberal Member for Hume, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor. Angus, good morning.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good morning Stephen, good to be with you.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: And representing the Labor Party, the Member for Bean, David Smith. G'day Dave.

DAVID SMITH: Morning Stephen.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Angus, the vaccine rollout continues. Now, I think it's been pretty rich of the work experience kid, sorry I mean the Deputy Premier of Queensland to suggest that attacks on the Queensland Government have been a distraction to draw attention away from the things going on in Parliament House. But I think you've got to take some fair criticism for the way this vaccine rollouts being handled.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, I go to the facts. We're up to just about a million vaccines that have been now administered across Australia. Our latest advice is that everyone will have had the jab by the end of October 2021. We know from rollouts in other countries, once you get to the first stage- through those early stages of getting everything in place, then it accelerates dramatically. I actually think our biggest challenge will be making sure those who are hesitant about the vaccine, who have some kind of concern about the vaccine, get it if we're going to get to herd immunity. That is extremely important. That will be the biggest issue, I think, in the coming months. Making sure everyone's comfortable to take this vaccine. We need people to take it. It is safe. This is hugely important. We've also got to remember, Australia is in a very good position. We're getting over half a million new cases around the world each day. We're getting virtually none, here in Australia. So we are in a good position, we're in a position to get this right, but we do need to make sure that people are prepared to get in and have that vaccine. It's all important.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Dave, I think Angus raises an interesting point there about some of the misinformation and the like that's being spread around there. How do we combat that? Because there are lunatics out there still suggesting that these vaccines are dangerous.

DAVID SMITH: Stephen, you know, I think that all governments at all levels are doing what they can to ensure that the right information is out there. And yeah, obviously there are some very limited cases where there might be an adversary action. But it's really important to keep that in context. To realise that it's at such a low level, and in most cases, we're talking about situations being, when people are getting their vaccination, they remain with health professionals for a period of time, so that you're able to actually walk through those particular issues. Look, it's one of the challenges that we have though, I guess, with ‘fake news’. It's one of the challenges we have if we actually undermine the good sources of news and information that are out there.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Dave, I'll stay with you for a moment. You recently held your national conference online, which by all accounts was a great success and perhaps a precursor of things to come. And a lot of good announcements to come out of that too. And I almost got the feeling that Anthony Albanese had woken up to himself with his talk about manufacturing. But there's still a lot of pandering to the Greens, with electric vehicles and battery storage, and all of this pie in the sky stuff. 

DAVID SMITH: Stephen, as you know my background is in science and engineering, and, look, my view is we've got to embrace the future in terms of how we deal with what's going to happen with the transition to electric cars and at some point hydrogen vehicles across the economy. But the actual positions that were unrolled by Anthony Albanese were quite sensible. They were quite modest. But they’re going to be sensible ways of ensuring stronger uptake of the moderate cost of EVs right across Australia. And no, we're not doing anything that's particularly different from other major Western economies. Effectively, we're catching up with where most of the rest of the world is on EV support.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Angus, this falls into your portfolio area, and whether we like it or not, the world motor vehicle industry is moving towards electric cars. Surely it's time we got rid of this luxury car tax, given that we don't have a local manufacturing industry to protect anymore?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, let's be clear here about what's going on and what Anthony Albanese said. He wants to use the taxes of hardworking Australians to help overseas car companies sell more cars to people who can already afford to buy them. That's what he's doing. Now he himself has said subsidies aren't needed, and that indeed we will reach price parity for electric vehicles, for certain types of vehicles in the very near future. And actually, I agree with that. But he wants to throw money around because that's Labor's way. The other point I'd make about this, if you want to reduce emissions right now, the best way to do that is through hybrids. And we're seeing a rapid uptake of hybrids in Australia, doubled in the last 12 months. We know, in fact, what's constrained the demand for hybrids has been getting enough for them into the country. So that's where we're going to reduce emissions. Yes, EVs will come and it's important we prepare with the infrastructure we need to do that, and that's why we have our Future Fuel Strategy. We put a discussion paper out. But the focus here is on getting the charging in place, making sure our electricity grid can handle it. It's that supporting enabling infrastructure that counts, not throwing money around and buying cars for people who could already afford them.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Angus, I want to stay with you for a moment, because there's been a push to target certain seats, or fairly large scale independent campaigns in certain electorates, including yours, much like the one that was run in Warringah against Tony Abbott. Are you concerned there? And I mean, why do they see you as a soft target, so to speak?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, I've had this, independents like this running against me at every election. And I had a Green-left independent run against me at the last election. I welcome democracy. It's a great thing. They didn't make a lot of headway, but good luck to them and they're more than welcome to do it, but I've seen them off in the past. I'll continue to campaign on my track record as someone who focuses on what's needed in my local area, in places like Goulburn where we were seeing record levels of infrastructure, up to the north where we're seeing that massive infrastructure investment around the new Western Sydney Airport. These are the things that really are having an impact on people day-to-day, and that'll continue to be my focus. It's worked for me till now, and I'll continue to focus on those practical things.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Dave, this is a little bit like the Greens, wanting to bring about a minority Labor government by knocking off Labor MPs, isn't it?

DAVID SMITH: There is certainly a bit of a flavour of that, Stephen. And look, at the last federal election, even down in Bean, we also had a reasonably high profile independent have run as well, too. So often one of the classic things about independents is that they can actually hide where they're affiliations are. Why? They don't necessarily have the responsibility that often go with being a member of a major party. And, yeah, you can almost pretend to be things to all people in those circumstances.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Angus, before we go, I just want to touch on Senator Jim Molan, announced yesterday that he's battling cancer. Well, if anybody's going to be able to fight it, it'll be Jim, but a bit of a loss to the Government while he steps away.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, while he steps away, my thoughts and prayers are with him. And I'm sure many, many others are. Jim is a good man who has done great work across this region. He's a good friend, and we're backing him in as we do every day. We want to see him come out of this and continue fighting the good fight as he has as a wonderful Senator representing New South Wales, and of course, in particular, this region. 

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: Indeed. Angus, good to talk this morning. Thanks for your time. 

ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks, Stephen. 

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO: And David Smith, good talk to you again.

DAVID SMITH: Thanks, Stephen. 

ENDS

Media contact:

Minister Taylor's office: 02 6277 7120