Radio Interview - 2CC Canberra Breakfast - 19 October 2021

Radio Interview - 2CC Canberra Breakfast - 19 October 2021 Main Image

TUESDAY, 19 October 2021

Topics discussed: Net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and the Glasgow conference

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: All right. Well, let's keep the federal polies going. It's time for our regular political panel. The Liberal member for Hume and Minister for Energy emissions and Reductions. Angus Taylor is with us. Angus, good morning.

ANGUS TAYLOR MP, LIBERAL MEMBER FOR HUME: Good morning, Stephen. Good to be with you.

CENATIEMPO: And Dave Smith is with us too, the Labor member for Bean. G'day, Dave.


CENATIEMPO: Angus, you're the man in the news at the moment. Net zero emissions by 2050. Have you been snookered by the opposition into following this path?

TAYLOR: By the opposition?


TAYLOR: No, I don't think so. I mean, look, we'll do what's right for Australia. We'll do what's right for communities right across Australia, particularly our regional communities. As we look forward here, Stephen, we've got a situation where over time customers demands are changing. They're already changing. The Japanese, the Koreans, our big export customers for our products, resources in agriculture. We need to evolve with that. We're not going to force loss of jobs. We're not going to pre-empt any move by our customers. But I tell you what we are going to do. We are going to adapt to our customers like this country has done for hundreds of years, and we're going to do it in a sensible way, which protects our traditional industries of agriculture, mining, heavy manufacturing. And at the same time, we're going to make sure that Australians don't have costs imposed on them, taxes on their electricity or other energy sources. And we'll make sure that this pathway is a sensible one forward. But what matters here is the plan, at the end of the day is the plan that counts. Labor doesn't have a plan. We have no idea what they have in mind, but we know where they always end up, which is the carbon tax, electricity tax and imposing costs on these communities.

CENATIEMPO: Well, Dave, that's a fair criticism, because I mean Labor has been pushing for this net zero emissions target as well. I understand the opposition is talking about legislating it. How do you legislate something that's going to happen long after every single one of us has retired from our current positions? Well, I might still be going because we seem to go forever in talk back radio, but you guys certainly won't be there.

SMITH: Thanks, Stephen, and look, you're right. Our policy for quite some time now has net zero emissions by 2050. But the reality is it's not just us. It's the peak groups, the farmers, the miners, the Business Council of Australia's come out very strongly about this. It's all the states and territories, but it's also all the countries that we compare ourselves with. So we're not actually talking about something that's particularly unusual, and I think that the irony here is that the government talks about us not having a plan. But the reality is they want to commit to a 2050 carbon neutral position too, but they still need a permission slip from the National Party to do so.

CENATIEMPO: Well, Angus, isn't it fair that the Nationals look after their own electorates? I mean, their responsibility is to their constituents before it is to the government.

TAYLOR: Well, two points. One is this is a decision of cabinet. Let's be clear about that. The Prime Minister's being clear about that yesterday and that's what it is. So what David is saying is wrong. But secondly, you're absolutely right, Stephen. Look, we represent regional areas. Outside of Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon, Labor doesn't. It simply doesn't represent the areas that are affected. And so it has never cared about these regions and that's why we saw them impose a carbon tax on Australians, which slashed heavy manufacturing. We lost aluminium smelters, we lost heavy industry, we lost mining resources. We're not going to do that. We are simply not going to do that. And we will always have a balance in how we approach this. We're the right party to deal with the changing customer demands, the changing technologies. And we are seeing changing demand and technologies. We are very sensitive to the issues in regional areas, and we must be because they are the people that need to deliver the outcomes in electorates like mine. They are also the people who will be worst affected by bad policies in this area and right now we still don't know what Labor's policies are.

CENATIEMPO: Dave, I think that's a fair criticism. I mean, is Labor really fair dinkum about his net zero emissions target, given that I had Anthony Albanese on the program last week and he ruled out even considering nuclear energy, suggesting that nowhere in the world are countries increasing their nuclear output? When we know that the UK are looking at building six new plants, Germany is now regretting their move away from nuclear in some respects. If we're going to do this, we need to use the resources available and the technology available.

SMITH: Stephen, firstly going back to the point of regional Australia. The big peak groups of regional Australia are on board with net zero by 2050. The National Farmers Federation has been leading the charge here. So to just suggest that in fact, a rump of nationals is somehow more representative than nearly all the peak groups across the country who support this is wrong. Labor's already put out significant areas of policy here about modernising our national grid, about community batteries, about how we actually provide the incentives for electric cars. But the interesting thing here, Stephen, is Glasgow is a couple of weeks away and the government still doesn't have a position on this. We know the position that they want to get to, which is the position that everyone else has come to now for some time, but they still don't have a position. We're going to be pretty interested in seeing what comes out of Glasgow because I think that will probably provide some additional pathways in terms of how we need to get to zero net emissions by 2050.

CENATIEMPO: Angus, I want to stay on this nuclear thing for a moment. There were suggestions on social media the door might have just creaked open. What is the government's position?

TAYLOR: Well, first of all, David didn't answer your question on new plans. Albo is implacably opposed to it, has been a campaigner against it since forever. And you know, Stephen, and David knows this, if the door opened on nuclear, he'd run a scare campaign in local electorates across the country to do what happened to John Howard, which resulted in the moratorium. Look, at the end of the day you're simply not going to get there without a sensible approach from the Labor party. We don't have that and it's sad. It's unfortunate that Labor is so ideological about so many issues. They don't have a plan. [David] mentioned something about, I don't know, the grid. I'll tell you that ain't a plan for 2050. A plan for 2050 is a focus on technologies like hydrogen, like stored energy, like soil carbon regenerative agriculture, like making sure we're using carbon capture and storage in a sensible way so our traditional industries can continue to prosper. That's a plan. We have that plan. It is very clear. And it's time for David and the Labor party to lay out what their plan is so we can move forward. And we do need a broad set of technologies in that plan.

CENATIEMPO: Well, I'm going to be straight down the line here and say, I think both sides are failing ... a pox upon on both your houses. But I do appreciate your time. Angus Taylor and David Smith. Thanks again.

TAYLOR: Good on you, Stephen.

SMITH: Thanks, Stephen.

CENATIEMPO: Angus Taylor, the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, and Dave Smith, the Labor member for Bean.