Doorstop at the AFR National Energy Summit, Sydney

Transcript

9 October 2019

E&OE

ANGUS TAYLOR: I'm here at the AFR Energy Summit and I've laid out in very clear terms the Government's agenda in terms of delivering affordable, reliable energy for all Australians - hardworking households, and small businesses, as well as industry that provides so many jobs across Australia. In particular I've focused on two areas that are central to Government's agenda.

The first is our competition policies. We've put price caps on standing offers, we've established a reference price to make it easier for customers to determine what is the best possible offer for them, and of course we've brought into the Parliament our big stick legislation which will hold the big energy companies to account and ensure that the unacceptable, and unsustainable conduct that the ACCC has described doesn't continue into the future.

But importantly, I've also talked about our agenda to ensure that there is enough reliable supply in the system to make sure the lights are on and that prices are brought down over time. This is crucial for all Australians.

This relies on state governments doing the right thing and we've seen the Victorian Government in particular in recent years supporting the premature shut down of baseload generators - in particular Hazelwood - banning onshore gas exploration and development, and the result of this has been upward pressure on prices.

We will work with collaborative governments to do the right thing to make sure we've got enough reliable supply in the market to put downward pressure on prices and to keep the lights on. These are crucial reforms we are pursuing and each summer they will really matter to every Australian who needs access not just to affordable energy for their households but affordable energy for their businesses as well.

JOURNALIST: Do you support Joel Fitzgibbon's call for Labor to back 28 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, we would love Labor to support our policies. Labor went to the last election with a 45 per cent emission reduction target which was going to slash jobs, slash wages, and slash the economy. That was their policy. They are now clearly recognising the error of their ways. But they're in chaos. There are different points of view coming out from different people in Labor every day. Of course, we would like them to support our policy because it is the right policy. It's about getting the balance right between bringing down emissions, achieving our international obligations with a clear pathway to do so. Strong targets, clear pathway, fully funded - that's our focus and ultimately it's up to Labor to decide where they sit on this. What we will never do is accept Labor's policies which are all about slashing jobs, slashing incomes and slashing the economy.

JOURNALIST: Minister, how do you respond to statements that government subsidies and costly efforts to keep old coal plants alive are doing nothing to bring investment into the energy sector?

ANGUS TAYLOR: What the energy sector needs is reliable supply. That was the point I was making in this speech - affordable reliable supply - and we have been delivered that for many, many decades from our big baseload generators which are mostly coal, and gas, and some hydro. They've played an enormously important role. Now, if there is a closure date without a plan for what happens beyond it, that needs to be fixed. It needs to be fixed. We will not accept another Hazelwood or Northern. What we saw in Victoria, when Hazelwood was prematurely closed, is wholesale prices more than doubling overnight - that's what we saw. We are not going to accept that and that's why we've put together with the New South Wales Government, the Liddell Taskforce which is focused on making sure we have a plan for Liddell and for, most importantly, the supply that is needed for New South Wales households and businesses.

JOURNALIST: Joel Fitzgibbon - is this an admission that Labor got it wrong with their emissions policy in the election?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yes. Labor got it wrong. Labor got it wrong in the election and the Australian people made their views clear on this. Labor took a policy to the election where they weren't prepared to detail the costs and the impacts of that policy. Independent modelling told us it would slash 336,000 jobs, slash wages and slash the economy. Labor seem to be seeing the error of their ways. It's time for them to accept that the Australian people want a strong economy balanced with sensible emissions reductions which are achievable.

JOURNALIST: Coal power energy policy has been a source of conflict between Australia and the Pacific nations of late. Do you expect discussions to be tense when the PM visits Fiji this month?

ANGUS TAYLOR: The point I would make is a very simple one which is, our track record and plan is strong. We've reached our 2012 Kyoto targets. We'll reach our 2020 Kyoto targets, and we'll overachieve on those by 367 million tonnes. We have a strong target for 2030 and a detailed, clear plan as to how we will achieve it which is fully costed through the $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package. This is funded, it is clear, it is detailed and we have a track record, as we have a plan to achieve it, and we will achieve it.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction