Interview with Chris Kenny 2GB


19 December 2018


CHRIS KENNY: Now, a lot of emails still coming in on this energy debate. The idiot Opposition Minister for the Environment said pump hydro - if we get less energy from that, it costs us, and then we will get rid of it. Does that- does he really understand basic science? He says: you can’t get rid of pumped hydro, you need to build a dam. Also, wind power generation in New South Wales has a capacity of almost 1300 megawatts, according to Alan, but apparently, yesterday from 11am to 1.30pm, the output varied between 1- no, minus 1 and 4.3 megawatts. Need I say anymore, Don Harwin? Keep up the fight. That’s another email there, according to Alan. This one really does get on people’s goats. Let’s see what the federal Energy Minster Angus Taylor has got to say about this issue after he’s returned to New South Wales from that energy ministers meeting in Adelaide today. Thanks for joining us at the end of an arduous day, Mr Taylor.

ANGUS TAYLOR: A pleasure to be with you, Chris.

CHRIS KENNY: Look, tell us about what’s going here with Don Harwin. Now, there hasn’t been an incredibly dramatic change in federal energy and climate policy after the change of Prime Minister. Some people like me might like you to actually get out of Paris. But what you have unashamedly done is say: we’re going to forget about climate policy, emissions policy. Scott Morrison has charged you as the minister for cheaper electricity. He’s wanted you to focus primarily on getting costs down and energy more reliable, yet your own state colleague, a Liberal energy minister from New South Wales, wants to put the emissions imperative back into the mixture.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, not just him. We also saw Labor and the Greens trying to do this, Chris, and the good news is they weren't successful today. And in fact, what we’ve got out of today [indistinct]… where we’ve got our reliability obligation in place, which will drive more dispatchable 24/7 supply into the market, like coal, with the supply you need when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. So, it was a good outcome. But it’s true, with now many people, particularly Labor and the Greens and unfortunately, one of the Liberals today who are focused primarily on emissions. And now the truth of the matter is that [indistinct] set a very aggressive emissions target, you’re going to drive up prices. So there's no doubt about it. We’ve seen that in South Australia-

CHRIS KENNY: Angus Taylor, we’re just having a little bit of trouble with that phone. If you're moving around at all, if you can just stay in a good spot, that'd be great.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah. So, what we’ve seen in South Australia a very aggressive emissions target - a 50 per cent renewable energy target - will lead to the highest prices in the world, and real problems with the reliability. So, we are focused on lower prices. We are focused on keeping the lights on, and unfortunately, there are others who want to go in a different direction.

CHRIS KENNY: Well, that's a good point you make. You successfully got this reliability guarantee in there. This is a complicated system I suppose, in a way but effectively, you're looking to encourage investment in dispatchable power in the way that over the last 10 years, we've seen all the encouragement for investment to go into renewable energy. You're actually creating an incentive and demanding that we get more reliable power into the system, and that was approved by the meeting. So that is a great step forward. But how can you deal with this properly, especially not just in a policy sense, but in a political sense, when you've got your own Coalition Energy Minister in the largest state in the country running this Green-left agenda - running an agenda that says that in our energy market, we shouldn't be focusing on getting energy prices down, we should be focusing on pretending that we can save the planet?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, Chris, I just get out every day and tell people how important- talk to people about important it is that we have low electricity prices; how important cheap energy has been to the prosperity of this great country. I mean, if you look at agriculture, the manufacturing industry; you look at retail; you look at cafes and butcher shops and abattoirs and you know that they’re all reliant on low-cost energy. And we need to make sure we keep those jobs; we keep those businesses; and the same time, we make sure that we help ourselves to make ends meet. So I think we just unashamedly need to keep explaining to people how important this is and how we shouldn't get distracted from that very, very important goal.

CHRIS KENNY: Well, that's a very clear message you're delivering and you'll be delivering that right up to election day, next year. But at the same time, you're going to have a New South Wales state election, where your Coalition colleagues are going to be running a divergent message. You're going to have Don Harwin and presumably, Gladys Berejiklian as well, saying that our energy policy should be focused on climate outcomes.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, look, the proposal put forward today - we saw 100 per cent emission reduction, 100 per cent. And-

CHRIS KENNY: This is looney tunes.

ANGUS TAYLOR: And let me tell you Labor, of course, is buying into this. The Greens are buying into this. And as I explain to people all the time, that means sheep and cattle, they can’t- we can’t have them because, of course, they produce methane. They produce methane, which is a very significant greenhouse gas. [Indistinct]-

CHRIS KENNY: Well, so does Don Harwin.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, what happens to all the manufacturing in the country? What happens to our mining sector? What happens to our abattoirs? I mean, all of these people rely on a 24/7 dispatchable power that is there when you need it. And of course, unless we retain that power in the system, we won’t have the affordable, reliable power to keep those businesses ticking over.

CHRIS KENNY: I know you don't want to talk about climate, you want to focus on energy and prices - that's your task. But you know, as well as anybody with an IQ above room temperature, you know that global emissions are growing and growing at such a rate they dwarf our entire emissions in this whole country every year and more than double our entire emissions each year - just the growth in global emissions. So the sorts of measures that Don Harwin and the Greens and Labor are promoting, and even the targets we're currently committed to, can't do any good. They can't help the environment because they are not reducing emissions. The planet is still getting more and more CO2 into the atmosphere.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, and Chris- what I add to that is the 26 per cent target we've got, we’re going to achieve it in about 2023 or 2022, so seven or eight years ahead of time; it’s scheduled for 2030. So, we’re going to need to [indistinct]. This is not necessary in electricity. We can focus on getting the prices down, keeping the lights on, and most importantly, getting more supply into the market. Keeping the supply we've got, we don’t want another Hazelwood. We don’t want another Northern; they were the power stations we saw exiting the market in Victoria and South Australia. We are putting in place measures to ensure that doesn't happen again, including this reliability obligation. And that supply, we know, when we have more supply in the market, we drive prices down and we keep those all important industries, businesses afloat.

CHRIS KENNY: Well, thanks so much for joining us, Angus. I know it's been a long day but I appreciate your efforts.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks, Chris.

CHRIS KENNY: Angus Taylor there, the Energy Minister, returning home this evening after his day in Adelaide, where his main protagonist happened to be the Coalition's Energy Minister in New South Wales. Expect to hear and read a lot more about that one tomorrow.

Minister for Energy