Interview with Stephan Cenatiempo, 2CC

Stephan Cenatiempo
Emissions targets, net zero, nuclear energy

Stephen Cenatiempo: We are joined by the Assistant Minister to the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Tim Wilson. Tim, good morning. 

Tim WiIson: Good morning!

Stephen Cenatiempo: So we've got a 126 page plan with no new policy. 

Tim WiIson: Well, politely that's false, there's a number of new policies, firstly, there's a commitment, there's a target, there's a timeframe and there's a plan, a 126 page plan to actually get there. And then in that plan, it builds off the existing policies we have, which act as pillars based on a sector by sector approach, which means we have Australia's first economy wide plan to reach Net Zero by 2050. And then there's new technology focus in it, particularly in ultra low cost solar PV and the role it can play. And as the Prime Minister outlined, there'll be further announcements to come. So this is an exciting day for Australia. It's a huge opportunity and challenge and one we're going to see.

Stephen Cenatiempo: But further announcements to come. Shouldn't we have had all of this sorted long before now, given that the Prime Minister is going to head off to Glasgow in a week?

Tim WiIson: Not at all. I mean, we're continuing to work through the issues and it's not going to end at Glasgow, it's not going to end at the next election. Because the technology led approach that we are taking, is actually about building new industries and economic opportunities for Australia so we can save the planet, make a buck along the way and make sure your kids and grandkids have good jobs on a healthy planet. But there's there's so much more work to be done because the alternative to a technology led approach as we move towards 2050 is a tax based approach which might be simple to digest. It might be a simple policy. It might be new, but it's not one we're going to endorse because it just makes households poorer but doesn't grow the future of the Australian economy. 

Stephen Cenatiempo: But having said that, you're going to spend $120 billion on emerging emerging technologies. That money's going to come from somewhere, 

Tim WiIson: Yeah and they're going to be used to leverage private investors to get into the space,  because we want to save the planet and make a buck, we want to build the future of the Australian economy. So what we're looking at is incentives to cut emissions for existing businesses and incentives to create new businesses and new opportunities. And that's what's so exciting about it is that we're actually entering how we're going to do it the right way, the Australian way to take the community with us, rather than the tax based approach that the Labor Party and the Greens have taken in the past. 

Stephen Cenatiempo: Some would argue, though, that Government money being spent on on zero emission technology and renewable energy technology is what has caused our energy prices to go up over the years. How does this not exacerbate that? 

Tim WiIson: Well, I don't agree. I mean, you just need to look at the approach that they're taking in Europe right now, where they're going into winter. They have soaring gas prices and they've left their their countries and their economies completely exposed and dependent on fuels from other countries because they haven't taken a diversified economy wide approach. But they have taken a tax approach, whereas if you invest in new technologies, you spread your risk and of course, you build the foundation for the future of the Australian economy, you're actually doing in a way that takes the community with us and stops the extreme risks that are appearing in Europe, and we don't want risks to appear in the Australian economy. 

Stephen Cenatiempo: Why won't the government show leadership and lift the moratorium on nuclear energy? 

Tim WiIson: Well, we are showing leadership through the plan yesterday. We've always said that we need to work in a bipartisan way. If that conversation is going to happen, and the Labor Party keeps saying that they're against it. 

Stephen Cenatiempo: No, but that's that's a cop out. You're the Government. 

Tim WiIson: No. Well, politely it's not because we actually need to maintain public confidence if we're  to go down that path, and that requires both sides of parliament to show leadership. But in the long term technology roadmap, it's always the role of nuclear power has always been there as something to watch because we're interested in the role it can play. But we know today it's not necessarily economically competitive, but that may change over time. 

Stephen Cenatiempo: But if there was no moratorium on that, wouldn't private industry then have the confidence to actually invest in investigating the possibilities of it? And again, when you say you need this bipartisan approach, I mean, you're the Government there, the opposition, if they get into government, they can make their own arrangements. 

Tim WiIson: Well, of course we can. But we've said we want to do anything in this space in a bipartisan way. But that's one of the reasons why it's included in the long term strategy can go and read it online at and the technology roadmap where it's included technologies to watch and and there's actually been an inquiry into the challenges of nuclear power in this parliament to see where are the barriers? Where are the challenge? Where are the hurdles? Is it viable and is it part of the solution? 

Stephen Cenatiempo: Tim Wilson, thanks for your time this morning. 

Tim WiIson: Thanks for having me. 

Stephen Cenatiempo: That's Tim Wilson, the Assistant Minister to the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction.