7 August 2019
DAVID BEVAN: Angus Taylor is the Federal Energy Minister and he's called the program. Good morning Angus Taylor.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks for having me.
DAVID BEVAN: Do you welcome the Australian Energy Regulator's decision to take this matter to the Federal Court and sort it out?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well I think it's always important to make sure that the rules in our electricity market are being enforced. I'm not going to get into the detail of the litigation - that wouldn't be appropriate obviously - but it is important that the Australian Energy Regulator whose role it is to enforce the rules in the system, enforce those rules. Look, when we bring generators into the system, they have to be properly integrated, they have to perform according to the rules, and if there are questions about whether they did, that needs to be investigated and if appropriate, enforcement action needs to be taken.
DAVID BEVAN: Does this, I mean Tony Wood said that this is not about renewables per se - it's about how you manage a contribution to your electricity supply, and if it's going to be for a, and any contribution has its own peculiarities - is that fair?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well look, it is certainly true that every generator needs to perform to the rules. Australian's, South Australian's have a reasonable expectation that when they flick the switch, the lights come on. We've come to take that for granted and when it doesn't happen, of course, it has really severe consequences in some cases for households and particularly for some businesses. So that's a reasonable expectation. That's why we have these rules, they apply to all generators and they all need to comply with them. Look, there are particular issues that emerge now with the amount of solar and wind that's been coming into the system in recent years. We've had record levels, the highest levels in the world in 2018 per capita of investment in solar and wind across Australia, and that is creating its own challenges. So all generators need to comply with the rules, but obviously that amount of new investment coming - over the $15 billion in a year - needs to be managed very, very carefully.
DAVID BEVAN: And Minister, before you leave us, are you confident that the lights will stay on in South Australia and Victoria this summer?
ANGUS TAYLOR: We're deeply worried about Victoria, there's no question about it. South Australia is taking real steps to manage the situation. AGL has extended the life of the Torrens A gas power station which we welcome strongly - that's a very, very important move. We need gas generators in the system to back up the solar and wind, and to make sure that we've got available power that can come into the system quickly. We are deeply concerned about Victoria. I know AEMO is doing some very good and very hard work to make sure that we are working to the worst possible contingencies, but the Victorian Government's policies are making that harder and harder all the time - bans on gas, premature closure of coal-fired powered stations, and record levels of investment in solar and wind, that's making the situation for AEMO very, very challenging.
DAVID BEVAN: But South Australia's okay because Tom Koutsantonis put, and Jay Weatherill bought those diesel generators and put a few other measures in place?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well frankly, the gas power stations are the real key, but the diesel of course is a contingency as well. Look, South Australia has been challenging - make no mistake about it - but we've got a Government there in South Australia that I think is making the right moves, does have the resolve to solve these hard problems - but you know it's going to be a challenging summer in the southern states, there's no doubt about it.
DAVID BEVAN: Angus Taylor, thanks for your time.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks for having me.