Doorstop at COSBOA Small Business Energy Summit, Melbourne


20 March 2019


JOURNALIST: Alright, to start off, what was your pitch to small business today?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Obviously small business is the backbone of this country - it has been creating many of the jobs that we've enjoyed in recent years - over one million jobs in the time we've been in Government. We expect that rate to continue into the future, and small business has been crucial to that, but we need a fair price for energy for small businesses. From 1 July, we'll see a new reference price and default market price, and that essentially means taking out the confusion from small businesses shopping around to find a better deal on their energy and taking out the loyalty tax that they've suffered. It's actually been the most loyal customers to an energy company that have been stung the most and that's completely unfair. From 1 July we're capping those prices. We are making sure that those small businesses will get a fair price. We know 20 per cent of small businesses haven't been getting that fair price. Well, that will change form 1 July and meanwhile we will be taking the confusion out of shopping around. So these are important measures.

In contrast to that, sadly Labor has not come clean to small business about what their 45 per cent emission reduction target will do and we've seen independent modelling in the last 24 hours come out saying that it will trash wages, trash jobs and obviously have big impacts on many of the sectors that small businesses rely on like transport, infrastructure, farming, manufacturing - these sectors will be hit hard by the curb in activity, by the cuts in activities necessary to reach Labor's reckless targets.

JOURNALIST: What do you think has been the main driver of electricity prices? Is it the changing mix from generation or is it companies ripping off customers?

ANGUS TAYLOR: We have seen companies ripping of customers - there's no doubt about that. We've seen penalties, onerous penalties imposed on customers because they pay their bills a few hours late. We've seen the most loyal customers being hit with a loyalty tax on the fact that they haven't shopped around each year to get a better deal. I mean, these are unacceptable activities. We've also seen withdraw of supply from the market which has had a big hike on prices. The ACCC has told us that that conduct is "unacceptable and unsustainable", "Unacceptable and unsustainable", and that's why we're taking action against those activities. We are implementing the recommendations of the ACCC. Sadly the Labor Party hasn't backed some of those reforms - they've sat on the side of the big energy companies. It's time that they actually sat on the side of the small businesses, like the one's I was talking to today.

JOURNALIST: There's been a proposal that's been long talked about, but again, it's been talked about - the high speed rail between our three biggest cities. Will the Coalition fund it?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, the Prime Minister and relevant ministers will have more to say about that [inaudible]. I'm not going to announce their policies here and now, but I would point out that we are investing $75 billion in road and rail infrastructure in the coming years. We have a strong track record on road and rail infrastructure, even in and around my electorate - Badgerys Creek Airport, the Northern Road, the massive road infrastructure investments going in funded by the Federal Government, as well as rail. That new airport will be rail ready by the time that it opens. These are examples, we see that with the city deals we're doing all around Australia, one after another. I did the first of the city deals in Launceston, Townsville and Western Sydney when I was the Minister for Cities. This has been a very strong focus for this Government and will continue to be a strong focus because we know busting congestion, providing the local jobs is absolutely crucial for Australians to live the lives they want to live.

JOURNALIST: So a hint there that some money is on the way?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well as I say, I will leave the announcements to the Prime Minister and the relevant ministers.

JOURNALIST: We heard from Turkish President Erdogan overnight, his comments about sending Australians home in coffins if they have had anti-Muslim sentiment - what do you make of that?

ANGUS TAYLOR: The Prime Minister has made comments on that this morning and I know he's going to speak directly with the Turkish Ambassador so I'll leave it with him to have that discussion.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that security needs to be boosted around Anzac Day services in light of the current political situation?

ANGUS TAYLOR: National security is a foundation of good government - keeping Australians safe is the first priority of any good government and we do that, everyday we'll continue to do that. That is a priority for this Government, it should be a priority for any government and that includes on Anzac Day, as with any other day of the year. Our national security agencies, intelligence agencies work hard on areas and times of highest risk, continually assessing where those risks are and continually acting to pre-empt any possible risk that may emerge for Australians. That's the job of good government and I think, I know that that is the first priority of this Government.

JOURNALIST: They are quite inflammatory remarks though, is there any, in light of what he's said, is there any grounds for stepping up the warnings for travelling to Turkey for Australians?

ANGUS TAYLOR: I'll leave it for the Prime Minister to comment on. I know he's made some very strong comments earlier today and I know he is going to be speaking directly with the Turkish Ambassador.

JOURNALIST: Just finally, what's your sense about how Australia's been perceived in the world? Obviously, the alleged shooter was Australian. Do you think it's harming our reputation on the international stage?

ANGUS TAYLOR: My experience of Australia's reputation on the international stage is we are highly respected. We are seen as a country that does the right thing. We are seen as a country that stands up for our interests, whilst recognising the interests of others. I know that reputation will stand fast, does stand fast and should because we are a great country that does great things and we're seen that way by the world.

Minister for Energy