Doorstop at COSBOA National Small Business Summit, Melbourne

Transcript

30 August 2019

E&OE

ANGUS TAYLOR: I'm absolutely delighted to be here today talking to small businesses at the COSBOA conference about a fair deal for energy. This is a high priority for the Government, both in terms of electricity and gas. We're rolling out a series of reforms to make sure we get a fair deal for energy for small businesses - those hardworking small businesses right across Australia - including the Business Energy Advisory Program that we’ve announced just this week. It allows small businesses to get in and check out their energy costs versus similar businesses, and to make sure they're getting a fair deal and to get consultation and advice on how they can get their energy costs down. That's all alongside making sure that we’ve got the reliability and the supply and competition in our electricity and gas markets to give our small businesses, our households and our industry a good deal on energy and one that can ensure that they can employ, invest and ensure we have strong industry in this country for many, many years to come.

JOURNALIST: A report released shows greenhouse gas emissions decreased slightly [inaudible]?

ANGUS TAYLOR: We have seen a reduction in the last quarter, two of the last three quarters. In the last year, there was a 0.6 per cent increase but it was more than accounted for by the very strong growth in the LNG exports that are reducing global emissions. In fact, the equivalent of up to 28 per cent of Australia’s emissions are being reduced through our exports. It's true, when we export, we account for a small part of that emission here and we don't get the benefit of the very significant reductions that are occurring in China, Japan, South Korea. That industry is crucial for Australian jobs. Alongside steel and aluminium, our big energy intensive export industries, we employ 150,000 Australians in these industries. They reduce global emissions and they're playing a crucial role not only for Australia but for the world.

JOURNALIST: Minister, given you are not going to [inaudible] the LNG industry, when can we expect to actually start to see a downward trend on annual emissions for Australia?

ANGUS TAYLOR: We've seen reductions in two of the last three quarters, but look the crucial point here is that Australia will reach its Paris commitments, just as we reached our Kyoto commitments. We've reached our Kyoto commitment in 2012, well ahead. Over 100 million tonnes, we beat that by. We'll beat it in 2020. A significant increase in terms of the reduction in emissions versus our targets, and we have laid out to the very last tonne how we're going to achieve our Paris 2030 commitments. In the National Electricity Market, for instance, we've seen very significant reductions in the last year. We expect to reach our Paris commitments in the early 2020s. So we're making good progress, there’s more work to do, and as I say, we're not going to cruel those export industries where some emission increases but we reduce global emissions. They are crucial to the future and to the prosperity of this country.

JOURNALIST: So taking all that into account and being realistic, when will start to see these emissions go down in total on an annual basis?

ANGUS TAYLOR: We saw them go down this quarter, but as I say, the crucial point here is that we’re not going to cruel those industries and we are going to reach our Paris obligations. Let’s be clear - the job here is to reach our Paris commitments. We’ve laid out to the last tonne how we’re going to reach those Paris commitments. We’ve put in place the $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package – 102 million tons of abatement that we get from the Climate Solutions Fund, as well as very significant reductions in emissions through energy efficiency, over 60 million tons from energy efficiency. In total, that will ensure that we reach our targets. Now, no government 12 years ahead of a target has laid out to the last tonne how they’re going to achieve those obligations. That's what we've done.

JOURNALIST: We’ve seen the Prime Minister is off to visit Timor-Leste [inaudible]?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, it’s 20 years since Timor-Leste has voted for independence and this is an historic event. The Prime Minister is there to celebrate what is a very, very historic occasion. It’s absolutely appropriate that he’d be there and congratulations to Timor-Leste. This is a very, very milestone, of course, 20 years since independence as voted on successfully in Timor-Leste.

JOURNALIST: Just on the Tamil family that’s being deported, what would your response be to those that say that’s unfair?

ANGUS TAYLOR: This is an operational matter, I am not going to comment.

JOURNALIST: Just on LNG plants, the government said it wants to help some WA plants to get their emissions down, but why aren’t we seeing the fruits of that yet?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, look, we are strongly encouraging all LNG projects to do the right thing, but the crucial point here is that when we export LNG, we have a small amount of emissions in Australia from what are known as fugitives, from the liquification, the compression of the gas to export it, and those emissions in total are far less than what we achieve in reductions when we export the gas. So this is good for the world.  We're seeing reduction in emissions as a result of Australia's gas exports, but we have to wear a small increase as a result of that. Now, while that is not great, in terms of carbon accounting, but it is a good outcome for the world and we are doing our bit and we are going to continue to encourage the growth of this industry - it has to be balanced with access to domestic gas at a fair price to small businesses like the ones I’m here talking to today, that that balance is achievable and as I say, 150,000 jobs in the gas export industry, in aluminium, in steel, these energy intensive exports that raise our emissions but reduce global emissions. We’re going to continue to encourage those industries.

JOURNALIST: Do we need to cut emissions elsewhere to better support those LNG exports?

ANGUS TAYLOR: We’ve seen significant reductions in emissions in the electricity sector which is the biggest emitter of any sector. We’ve seen significant reductions in the last 12 months. Look, we have right now - in 2018, the year just passed - we saw the highest level of investment in renewables in the world here in Australia, solar and wind. There is no country even close to us. We double comparable countries or more comparable countries around the world and the result of that is we've seen very significant reductions in electricity emissions. That's great. It's creating challenges for reliability and affordability and we're very focused on those challenges, but we are seeing those reductions in crucial sectors like electricity.

JOURNALIST: Just a final question, are you optimistic about the long-term trading when it comes to global emissions?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well I mean there's a lot of work to be done. We’re 1.2 per cent of our emissions. We have to do our bit, but we've got to be realistic that big countries like China and India have to play their role. That is absolutely essential and of course, that plays out through international negotiations. We’re a strong supporter of those international negotiations. We can do our bit and participate in those negotiations. It’s also crucial that all countries around the world are looking to invest in and support technologies that are going to give us those pathways in the future, whether it’s hydrogen where we're making very significant investments or other comparable technologies that are going to play an important role in the future.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction