Browsing articles in "Interview Transcripts"
Apr 3, 2006

Transcript of Radio Interview, AM – Uranium Issues

Transcript of Radio Interview, AM – Uranium Issues

3 April 2006

Prime Minister comments on government and business agreements signed with China; China is expected to agree to uranium trade safeguards

TONY EASTLEY: In a deal potentially worth billions of dollars, China will today sign a lucrative agreement clearing the way for it to buy Australian uranium to power its growing number of nuclear power stations.

China’s Premier Wen Jiabao is in Canberra for talks with the Prime Minister John Howard and to sign a series of government and business agreements.

He’ll also meet Cabinet ministers, Labor leader Kim Beazley and Queensland Premier Peter Beattie.

The prospect of large-scale uranium exports to China has reopened the contentious debate about uranium mining and the wider issue of nuclear energy.

From Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Australia has 40 per cent of the world’s known uranium reserves, but supplies much less of the world market for mined uranium.

That’s about to change, with today’s signing of an overarching agreement so China can buy Australian uranium.

China plans to build as many as 30 new nuclear reactors by 2020 and reportedly wants to explore and develop uranium mines of its own in Australia.

The Federal Government says Premier Wen’s confirmed China will agree to stringent safeguards stating the uranium must only be used for peaceful means, to generate electricity, and it can’t be transferred for use in weapons.

John Howard’s putting great store in the safeguards regime he’s confident can be enforced effectively.

JOHN HOWARD: China is wanting world acceptance in so many ways. China sees herself as projecting influence and authority in the region. That’s understandable, given her size, and I don’t think she’s going to lightly give up the fairly hard-won reputation that she’s trying to get, acquire.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But the Australian Greens accuse the Federal Government of kowtowing to the temptation of big export dollars. Senator Christine Milne argues economics and human rights should not be separated.

CHRISTINE MILNE: What we have in China is a repressive regime which does not support democracy. Premier Wen, as readily as two years ago, said that Tiananmen Square was an uprising that had to be put down.

He is no champion of democracy, China does not honour its international obligations on political and civil rights, and furthermore it has a poor reputation in terms of nuclear technology.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Conservation Foundation echoes those concerns, adding nuclear energy is too dangerous, too dirty, too expensive and no answer to climate change.

But for some in the Federal Opposition, the prospect of massive exports to China and India is reason to ditch Labor’s "no new mines" policy.

Resources spokesman Martin Ferguson is keen for a policy rethink, so state Labor governments are free to open a swag of new mines, arguing the debate’s moved on and Australia could soon be the world’s biggest uranium exporter.

But Environment spokesman Anthony Albanese doesn’t think the arguments underpinning the current policy have shifted one iota. He says the intractable problems of high cost, safe disposal of radioactive nuclear waste, safety and nuclear proliferation remain. At Labor’s national conference in a year’s time he’ll argue for no change.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, there’s certainly no push from the rank and file of the Labor Party for a change in policy. I’m yet to see a single branch resolution calling for change. I do know that there’s many branches carrying resolutions supporting the existing policy and reaffirming that Labor’s as far into the nuclear fuel cycle as we want to be.

TONY EASTLEY: Labor’s Environment spokesman, Anthony Albanese.

 

Mar 30, 2006

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Hon Kim Beazley MP -Sustainable Energy

Partial Transcript of Doorstop Interview

Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems

Australian National University

30 March 2006

The Hon Kim Beazley MP

Leader of the Opposition

Subjects: Sustainable energy

BEAZLEY: Australia has got be the Silicon Valley of solar. This means jobs. It means we take the lead in ensuring that what needs to be done with the world’s energy supply to start to eliminate the threat of extreme climate change is done effectively. We must not let the brilliant Australian inventions, the great Australian in science, be a product of somebody else’s commercialisation.

We’re already seen how good research done in the universities in New South Wales has massively enriched Chinese industry. We have got to make absolutely certain that the good work done here means jobs for Australians as well as affordable, clean energy supplies which deal with carbon emissions problems. The work being done in this lab, the work being done at the Australian National University, in association with Australian companies, massively reduces the cost of solar energy, brings it close to the costs of other similar clean technologies in wind power, in clean coal, that’s coal with gas sequestration taking place associated with its use. This is absolutely essential for affordable, good energy supplies.

We put out a Blueprint on climate change and in that Blueprint we said the Australian Government must look to what it needs to do to assist research and to assist development of good Australian invented technologies. This is absolutely at the cutting edge of what an Australian Government should focus on. So, when we talked about climate change and how Australia should address it, one of the things we said was: the good news is the technologies to deal with the problem are there or thereabouts. It’s not as though we have to invent a whole new array of things, we simply have to properly exploit inventing which has already been done.

You couldn’t get a better example of exploitable activity around something that has already been done than you could get in these labs with the Sliver technology which reduces the cost of the relevant cells by something like 75 per cent.

JOURNALIST: Do you have other examples of where Australian innovation is missing out on market opportunities particularly in energy fields?

BEAZLEY: I think the problem is Australian innovation in the end doesn’t miss out, it becomes somebody else’s innovation. You know, the classic thing is: marvellous work done by Australian scientist here, development takes place in the West Coast of the United States or in China or somewhere else. The thing is any Australian invention with great commercial purpose and great commercial capacity actually does get picked up – the problem is it doesn’t get picked up here. And we have to make certain, and there’s a good start being made on it in relation to this technology that we’re dealing with here, that it will be developed here in this country.

The Australian research and development investment, by commercial companies in particular, and also to a degree by public investment as well, is appalling. It is one of the lowest levels in the OECD and going backwards – shocking. Now, a government that’s concerned about investing in the future of Australia has got to change those figures. Take a look at the tax system; take a look at how we do our research and development; how we invest in and fund the universities. These are the things which are going to ensure Australian survival and success. And they’re a million miles from the agenda of the Howard Government.

 

Mar 30, 2006

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Hon Kim Beazley MP -Sustainable Energy

Partial Transcript of Doorstop Interview

Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems

Australian National University

30 March 2006

The Hon Kim Beazley MP

Leader of the Opposition

Subjects: Sustainable energy

BEAZLEY: Australia has got be the Silicon Valley of solar. This means jobs. It means we take the lead in ensuring that what needs to be done with the world’s energy supply to start to eliminate the threat of extreme climate change is done effectively. We must not let the brilliant Australian inventions, the great Australian in science, be a product of somebody else’s commercialisation.

We’re already seen how good research done in the universities in New South Wales has massively enriched Chinese industry. We have got to make absolutely certain that the good work done here means jobs for Australians as well as affordable, clean energy supplies which deal with carbon emissions problems. The work being done in this lab, the work being done at the Australian National University, in association with Australian companies, massively reduces the cost of solar energy, brings it close to the costs of other similar clean technologies in wind power, in clean coal, that’s coal with gas sequestration taking place associated with its use. This is absolutely essential for affordable, good energy supplies.

We put out a Blueprint on climate change and in that Blueprint we said the Australian Government must look to what it needs to do to assist research and to assist development of good Australian invented technologies. This is absolutely at the cutting edge of what an Australian Government should focus on. So, when we talked about climate change and how Australia should address it, one of the things we said was: the good news is the technologies to deal with the problem are there or thereabouts. It’s not as though we have to invent a whole new array of things, we simply have to properly exploit inventing which has already been done.

You couldn’t get a better example of exploitable activity around something that has already been done than you could get in these labs with the Sliver technology which reduces the cost of the relevant cells by something like 75 per cent.

JOURNALIST: Do you have other examples of where Australian innovation is missing out on market opportunities particularly in energy fields?

BEAZLEY: I think the problem is Australian innovation in the end doesn’t miss out, it becomes somebody else’s innovation. You know, the classic thing is: marvellous work done by Australian scientist here, development takes place in the West Coast of the United States or in China or somewhere else. The thing is any Australian invention with great commercial purpose and great commercial capacity actually does get picked up – the problem is it doesn’t get picked up here. And we have to make certain, and there’s a good start being made on it in relation to this technology that we’re dealing with here, that it will be developed here in this country.

The Australian research and development investment, by commercial companies in particular, and also to a degree by public investment as well, is appalling. It is one of the lowest levels in the OECD and going backwards – shocking. Now, a government that’s concerned about investing in the future of Australia has got to change those figures. Take a look at the tax system; take a look at how we do our research and development; how we invest in and fund the universities. These are the things which are going to ensure Australian survival and success. And they’re a million miles from the agenda of the Howard Government.

 

Mar 7, 2006

Transcript of Radio Interview, AM Program, ABC – ALP Climate Change Blueprint

Transcript of Radio Interview, AM Program, ABC

7 March 2006

Shadow Minister discusses ALP energy policy; energy executive says targets should go further than 2050

TONY EASTLEY: Despite the preselection battles, Labor leader Kim Beazley is determined to get on with business.

And today he’s set to release the party’s energy policy and it’s promising to set Labor apart from the Coalition.

It involves ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, embraces a carbon-emissions trading system, and asks more from new home owners.

Karen Percy reports.

KAREN PERCY: Labor’s plan aims to cut Australia’s greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent, by 2050. Its first step will be for Australia to ratify the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gases.

Labor’s Environment Spokesman, Anthony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We’ll establish a national emissions trading scheme, because we believe that Kyoto brings with it market base mechanisms to encourage the use of new technology.

But we’ll go much further than that, and today we’ll have a number of immediate and innovative practical policy measures designed to get Australia on the road to a carbon-constrained economy.

KAREN PERCY: Like the Government, the Opposition is looking at finding cleaner ways to use fossil fuels, like geosequestration, which buries the emissions from burning coal. It’s also looking to make greater use of technologies that convert gas to liquids. Anthony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What we need if we’re going to avoid dangerous climate change, is to use all forces at our disposal to actually get to that target.

KAREN PERCY: Does that include nuclear?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No. Labor believes when it comes to nuclear, that there are a range of problems which haven’t been resolved. For a start, it doesn’t stack up economically in Australia, but also the issues of nuclear waste mean that it’s simply not an appropriate system for Australia.

KAREN PERCY: While the Opposition is looking at the big picture, it’s also adopting a grassroots approach as well.

There’ll be incentives for new home buyers to adopt environmentally friendly energies into their homes.

There’ll be changes to building codes to ensure properties are more energy efficient and the party is also set to address transport issues.

When it comes to wind and solar energies, Labor’s promising a big shift from its position at the last election, where it adopted a renewable energy target of five per cent by 2010.

When the policy detail is revealed today, Environment Spokesman Anthony Albanese says Labor will go much further than that and will move significantly beyond present levels.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: At the moment, it’s two per cent. China’s just adopted a 15 per cent target. Most of Europe have at least a 20 per cent target. It really is an appalling situation that we’re so far behind.

KAREN PERCY: The policy launch will be closely watched by the industry, including Susan Jeanes from the Renewable Energy Generators of Australia.

SUSAN JEANES: We’re very keen to see the level of target, but it needs to be very ambitious in order to get to where we need to be.

KAREN PERCY: So would that be 10 per cent, 15 per cent, 20 per cent?

SUSAN JEANES: It’s probably considerably more than that in the longer term. I mean, remember we’re only talking about targets at the moment out to 2010, 2020. I mean, we need to go a lot further than that by 2050.

TONY EASTLEY: Susan Jeanes, Chief Executive Officer from the Renewable Energy Generators of Australia ending Karen Percy’s report.

 

Mar 7, 2006

Transcript of Radio Interview, AM Program, ABC – ALP Climate Change Blueprint

Transcript of Radio Interview, AM Program, ABC

7 March 2006

Shadow Minister discusses ALP energy policy; energy executive says targets should go further than 2050

TONY EASTLEY: Despite the preselection battles, Labor leader Kim Beazley is determined to get on with business.

And today he’s set to release the party’s energy policy and it’s promising to set Labor apart from the Coalition.

It involves ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, embraces a carbon-emissions trading system, and asks more from new home owners.

Karen Percy reports.

KAREN PERCY: Labor’s plan aims to cut Australia’s greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent, by 2050. Its first step will be for Australia to ratify the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gases.

Labor’s Environment Spokesman, Anthony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We’ll establish a national emissions trading scheme, because we believe that Kyoto brings with it market base mechanisms to encourage the use of new technology.

But we’ll go much further than that, and today we’ll have a number of immediate and innovative practical policy measures designed to get Australia on the road to a carbon-constrained economy.

KAREN PERCY: Like the Government, the Opposition is looking at finding cleaner ways to use fossil fuels, like geosequestration, which buries the emissions from burning coal. It’s also looking to make greater use of technologies that convert gas to liquids. Anthony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What we need if we’re going to avoid dangerous climate change, is to use all forces at our disposal to actually get to that target.

KAREN PERCY: Does that include nuclear?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No. Labor believes when it comes to nuclear, that there are a range of problems which haven’t been resolved. For a start, it doesn’t stack up economically in Australia, but also the issues of nuclear waste mean that it’s simply not an appropriate system for Australia.

KAREN PERCY: While the Opposition is looking at the big picture, it’s also adopting a grassroots approach as well.

There’ll be incentives for new home buyers to adopt environmentally friendly energies into their homes.

There’ll be changes to building codes to ensure properties are more energy efficient and the party is also set to address transport issues.

When it comes to wind and solar energies, Labor’s promising a big shift from its position at the last election, where it adopted a renewable energy target of five per cent by 2010.

When the policy detail is revealed today, Environment Spokesman Anthony Albanese says Labor will go much further than that and will move significantly beyond present levels.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: At the moment, it’s two per cent. China’s just adopted a 15 per cent target. Most of Europe have at least a 20 per cent target. It really is an appalling situation that we’re so far behind.

KAREN PERCY: The policy launch will be closely watched by the industry, including Susan Jeanes from the Renewable Energy Generators of Australia.

SUSAN JEANES: We’re very keen to see the level of target, but it needs to be very ambitious in order to get to where we need to be.

KAREN PERCY: So would that be 10 per cent, 15 per cent, 20 per cent?

SUSAN JEANES: It’s probably considerably more than that in the longer term. I mean, remember we’re only talking about targets at the moment out to 2010, 2020. I mean, we need to go a lot further than that by 2050.

TONY EASTLEY: Susan Jeanes, Chief Executive Officer from the Renewable Energy Generators of Australia ending Karen Percy’s report.

 

Mar 1, 2006

Transcript of Radio National Breakfast – Water Issues

Radio National Breakfast – Water Issues

1 March 2006

TONY EASTLEY: As state and territory governments scramble to find ways of fixing Australia’s chronic water shortage, one utility’s company has come up with a novel way of paying for it—it wants to use Australia’s superannuation pool. Politicians are open to the idea but some economists say investing super in utilities may not be financially or politically viable.

Francene Norton reports.

FRANCENE NORTON: Water forums in Australia are becoming an increasingly common theme as governments, industry leaders and environmental experts grapple with the nation’s dwindling capacity to provide water supplies amid a seemingly endless drought. The latest summit is in Brisbane today where private funding of water infrastructure projects is a central issue.

Graham Dooley from United Utilities Australia believes the nation’s massive pool of superannuation may provide the answer.

GRAHAM DOOLEY: It is blindly obvious that large-scale recycling of sewerage needs to be on our agenda, and this needs to be funded from somewhere. It can be funded from government or we can mobilise the enormous investment that all the employees of Australia are making in their superannuation funds and apply that money to the good work of building the nation’s water infrastructure to a level that we will be happy with.

FRANCENE NORTON: Parliamentary Secretary Malcolm Turnbull, who is responsible for water policy, last week called for greater private sector investment in the nation’s ageing water infrastructure, with tens of billions of dollars needed over the next few decades. Labor’s spokesman on water, Anthony Albanese, is open to the superannuation idea.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I don’t think there is much risk in investing in the necessities of life, and there’s no greater necessity than clean water. So I think it is a secure investment; it’s a long-term investment.

FRANCENE NORTON: However, ABN AMRO Morgan’s Chief Economist Michael Knox has reservations.

MICHAEL KNOX: Firstly, it is no longer possible to conscript superannuation funds to invest in anything and, secondly, it is not necessarily the case that politically people want the private sector to provide this investment. It may be that the people want the states to provide this investment.

TONY EASTLEY: ABN AMRO Morgan’s Chief Economist

 

Mar 1, 2006

Transcript of Radio National Breakfast – Water Issues

Radio National Breakfast – Water Issues

1 March 2006

TONY EASTLEY: As state and territory governments scramble to find ways of fixing Australia’s chronic water shortage, one utility’s company has come up with a novel way of paying for it—it wants to use Australia’s superannuation pool. Politicians are open to the idea but some economists say investing super in utilities may not be financially or politically viable.

Francene Norton reports.

FRANCENE NORTON: Water forums in Australia are becoming an increasingly common theme as governments, industry leaders and environmental experts grapple with the nation’s dwindling capacity to provide water supplies amid a seemingly endless drought. The latest summit is in Brisbane today where private funding of water infrastructure projects is a central issue.

Graham Dooley from United Utilities Australia believes the nation’s massive pool of superannuation may provide the answer.

GRAHAM DOOLEY: It is blindly obvious that large-scale recycling of sewerage needs to be on our agenda, and this needs to be funded from somewhere. It can be funded from government or we can mobilise the enormous investment that all the employees of Australia are making in their superannuation funds and apply that money to the good work of building the nation’s water infrastructure to a level that we will be happy with.

FRANCENE NORTON: Parliamentary Secretary Malcolm Turnbull, who is responsible for water policy, last week called for greater private sector investment in the nation’s ageing water infrastructure, with tens of billions of dollars needed over the next few decades. Labor’s spokesman on water, Anthony Albanese, is open to the superannuation idea.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I don’t think there is much risk in investing in the necessities of life, and there’s no greater necessity than clean water. So I think it is a secure investment; it’s a long-term investment.

FRANCENE NORTON: However, ABN AMRO Morgan’s Chief Economist Michael Knox has reservations.

MICHAEL KNOX: Firstly, it is no longer possible to conscript superannuation funds to invest in anything and, secondly, it is not necessarily the case that politically people want the private sector to provide this investment. It may be that the people want the states to provide this investment.

TONY EASTLEY: ABN AMRO Morgan’s Chief Economist

 

Feb 7, 2006

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – COAG Agenda and Climate Change, Senator Heffe

TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

Parliament House, Canberra

7 February 2006

Subject: COAG Agenda and Climate Change, Senator Heffernan, Mark Latham

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today there has been speculation that at the COAG meeting on Friday there will be the issue of smart meters for energy efficiency savings put on the National Agenda. That is a good thing but what we need to do is to put climate change in general on the national agenda. Both South Australia and New South Wales have called for National Summits when it comes to avoiding dangerous climate change. Yet what we see from the government is that the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target has run out of steam and renewable industries are talking about moving offshore. What we are also seeing is a failure to address on the national level the need to take strong action.

The states and territories have been developing a state based emissions trading scheme model. That is preferable to no action at all but what is really required is for the national government to come in and to have a national emission trading system. That would be best for efficiency and would be best for Australian business. We need market signals through pricing carbon. That has been acknowledged by the Environment Minister and by the Treasurer, but they say not yet. The longer we wait the higher the cost of action to avoid dangerous climate change will be.

Secondly, I want to make a comment about today and the issues confronting the Prime Minister. The issue is this. Will the Prime Minister continue to turn a blind eye to Senator Heffernan’s behaviour just as he has turned a blind eye to the $300 million in kickbacks that have been given to Saddam Hussein? That is a challenge for the Prime Minister. He has failed it up until now.

Senator Heffernan is a repeat offender and yet no action has been taken by Prime Minister John Howard. At the same time as he has turned a blind eye to the actions of Senator Heffernan he is saying essentially he will turn a blind eye to the AWB kickback scandal that has put $300 million into the back pocket of Saddam Hussein at the exact same time as he was preparing to take Australians to war.

JOURNALIST: Senator Heffernan is regarded as being close to the Prime Minister. Do you believe his actions reflect on the Prime Minister’s judgement?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well there is no doubt that Senator Heffernan has been hand picked by the Prime Minister in the past to be his parliamentary secretary, it is clear that he is a close confident of the Prime Minister and I think that it is about time that the Prime Minister pulled Senator Heffernan into line. But the problem with John Howard is that you have a Prime Minister who is not prepared to take responsibility. Just as he will not take responsibility for his own back bench, he won’t take responsibility for the AWB $300 million in kickbacks that went to Saddam Hussein at a time when he was preparing to take Australia to war against Iraq.

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese do you have any sympathy for Mr Latham in his current predicament?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s a sad situation and I don’t intend to comment beyond which I have in the past about Mr Latham.

JOURNALIST: Do you have any sympathy for him?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think that Mr Latham is someone who I think is going through difficult circumstances and I wouldn’t want to add to that. I actually am someone who has some compassion for all people who are going through difficulties. Obviously he is and I don’t wish to add to those difficulties.

Thank you.

 

Feb 7, 2006

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – COAG Agenda and Climate Change, Senator Heffe

TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

Parliament House, Canberra

7 February 2006

Subject: COAG Agenda and Climate Change, Senator Heffernan, Mark Latham

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Today there has been speculation that at the COAG meeting on Friday there will be the issue of smart meters for energy efficiency savings put on the National Agenda. That is a good thing but what we need to do is to put climate change in general on the national agenda. Both South Australia and New South Wales have called for National Summits when it comes to avoiding dangerous climate change. Yet what we see from the government is that the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target has run out of steam and renewable industries are talking about moving offshore. What we are also seeing is a failure to address on the national level the need to take strong action.

The states and territories have been developing a state based emissions trading scheme model. That is preferable to no action at all but what is really required is for the national government to come in and to have a national emission trading system. That would be best for efficiency and would be best for Australian business. We need market signals through pricing carbon. That has been acknowledged by the Environment Minister and by the Treasurer, but they say not yet. The longer we wait the higher the cost of action to avoid dangerous climate change will be.

Secondly, I want to make a comment about today and the issues confronting the Prime Minister. The issue is this. Will the Prime Minister continue to turn a blind eye to Senator Heffernan’s behaviour just as he has turned a blind eye to the $300 million in kickbacks that have been given to Saddam Hussein? That is a challenge for the Prime Minister. He has failed it up until now.

Senator Heffernan is a repeat offender and yet no action has been taken by Prime Minister John Howard. At the same time as he has turned a blind eye to the actions of Senator Heffernan he is saying essentially he will turn a blind eye to the AWB kickback scandal that has put $300 million into the back pocket of Saddam Hussein at the exact same time as he was preparing to take Australians to war.

JOURNALIST: Senator Heffernan is regarded as being close to the Prime Minister. Do you believe his actions reflect on the Prime Minister’s judgement?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well there is no doubt that Senator Heffernan has been hand picked by the Prime Minister in the past to be his parliamentary secretary, it is clear that he is a close confident of the Prime Minister and I think that it is about time that the Prime Minister pulled Senator Heffernan into line. But the problem with John Howard is that you have a Prime Minister who is not prepared to take responsibility. Just as he will not take responsibility for his own back bench, he won’t take responsibility for the AWB $300 million in kickbacks that went to Saddam Hussein at a time when he was preparing to take Australia to war against Iraq.

JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese do you have any sympathy for Mr Latham in his current predicament?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s a sad situation and I don’t intend to comment beyond which I have in the past about Mr Latham.

JOURNALIST: Do you have any sympathy for him?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think that Mr Latham is someone who I think is going through difficult circumstances and I wouldn’t want to add to that. I actually am someone who has some compassion for all people who are going through difficulties. Obviously he is and I don’t wish to add to those difficulties.

Thank you.

 

Jan 17, 2006

Transcript of Doorstop Interview – Renewable Energy and the SunBall Solar

TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

The Domain, Sydney

17 January 2006

Subject: Renewable Energy and the Award-Winning SunBall Solar appliance

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I am here today to talk about the failure of the Federal Government when it comes to renewable energy. The Howard Government is all hot air when it comes to supporting renewable energy.

Last year, 2005, the SunBall, designed by Mr Greg Watson of Adelaide, won the People’s Choice award on the ABC’s popular New Inventors program. What that showed was the amount of public support that is there for innovation which addresses climate change and which saves energy.

Australia historically was the world leader in solar energy research and innovation. In 1980 we were the largest provider in the world. Today it is less than 1% and we can see why when we look at the SunBall experience. Here we have an Australian invention which would save energy and reduce costs over a short period of time. The pay back for this particular invention is estimated to be six years, from that point on it provides completely emissions free technology. And yet the Australian Greenhouse Office has refused to provide funding for it and access to its rebate program.

Of course we know that on January 1 this rebate program was wound back, by half when it comes to community organisations, and it will end in the middle of next year. We know that due to the failure of the government to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, that what we are seeing is a flight of innovation and capital investment away from Australia. We saw Pacific Solar move from Sydney to Germany. We see this award-winning design completely abandoned by the government. And yet last week the Howard Government had the hide when hosting the Asia Pacific Pact meeting to suggest that it was serious about these issues. We know that arising out of that meeting some $20 million in funding a year was allocated. Some $5 million of that was reserved for renewable energy or 25 cents per Australian per year. That is a pathetic amount and if you compare it with the actions of the Republican Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger who last week announced the US$3.2 billion program, the California Solar Initiative which will provide rebates on a sliding scale to encourage the investment sooner rather than later, to homes and businesses to take up solar technology. The Howard government simply is not serious about addressing climate change. It is not serious about supporting good Australian innovation and industry.

JOURNALIST: Does last week’s commitment towards renewable energy suggest to the industry that there isn’t a future for solar and wind power in Australia?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well what the industry is saying is that for both solar and wind energy, are talking about packing up and leaving our shores. That would be a tragedy. What we need is more renewable energy. This comes a time when our neighbours such as China have announced a 15% renewable energy target. Most of the European countries have a 20% renewable energy target. And that is why Labor supports increasing the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target which is a pathetic 2%. Once that level is hit, which will happen this year, all the support for industry will go. That means in the longer term a great cost to Australia. We know that renewables are the future and we should be in a position of investing now so that that adjustment down the track is at least cost.

JOURNALIST: How much money is needed?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: With the rebate program, it provides support for people to take up solar energy in their homes. What we need is a substantial increase in the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target. In the long run it has got to be recognised that it saves money because if you have a viable renewable energy industry which is actually contributing extra energy to the grid, then you save money in terms of the capital that is required for increased projections in energy use down the track. So I think it has got to be viewed in terms not as a cost but as an investment and as a long term saving. And that’s why I think the Howard Government’s approach is extraordinarily short sighted and flies in the face of their alleged concern for climate change.

JOURNALIST: What would you expand MRET to and [inaudible]?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We are going to be making announcements closer to the election about what our target would be. At the last election campaign we said we would have a 5% target by 2010. That is obviously the sort of promise you make in 2004. You can’t make 3 year promise in terms of time frame so I should imagine it will be a substantially higher target but it will also be at a different time frame because this investment takes time to come online. And what people want in the renewable energy industry is a signal that the investment will be secure and that it is worthwhile undertaking it.

JOURNALIST: Mr Ferguson was quite supportive of the AP6 and did not talk I think at all about renewables. How do you explain the difference in your strong comments today and his comments which were extremely supportive of the Howard Government?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well my job is to actually provide a critique of the Howard Government but to also provide Labor’s alternative and Labor’s alternative is very clear. We believe that the Asia Pacific Climate Pact meeting was positive but extremely limited.

Everyone supports new technology. The difference is how do you achieve it and without economic instruments such as emissions trading, to encourage the uptake of that new technology, and the clean development mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, which provides for that investment to be made in developing countries. Under the Clean Development Mechanism there are already 60 projects registered and some 500 online. What we are talking about is billions of dollars of investment, unlike the $20 million dollars provided for by the Climate Pact meeting, with only $5 million reserved for renewable energy.

Labor’s position is clear. We would ratify the Kyoto Protocol, we would introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme and we would substantially increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target.

JOURNALIST: So does Mr Ferguson stand out on a limb or is there a split in the party?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look my job is to comment on the environment policy of the Labor Party. That policy we have adopted at National Conference and at caucus. Those positions have been adopted unanimously so I take it from that that all caucus members agree with it.

JOURNALIST: 5 percent is for the MRET isn’t as high as other countries like Japan and Germany which are up to 10 and 12 percent. Would you push it higher?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think over the long term certainly that is an option that needs to be considered. But today is not the day for announcing the figure. We will do that through the proper processes of the party and through consultation with the renewable energy industry. Most of Europe has adopted a 20% by 2020 target. Of course the problem that we have got is that we are working off such a low beginning and unfortunately that is becoming more and more difficult due to the low figure of the current MRET. Quite clearly what we need in the long term is a substantially increased target.

JOURNALIST: Do you know of any projects in particular that are saying they may leave, be they solar or wind?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Certainly there are wind companies that are invested in Australia. Many of them were recorded just on the weekend suggesting that projects that have been approved for wind energy in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria will not proceed as a result of the government’s failure to increase the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target. Certainly companies that I have met with, including BP Solar, have said that they would like to see the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target increased. It is quite clear that when you look at successful operations such as BP based at Homebush, I have visited that site, they can’t keep up with the demand but the demand is by and large from overseas because the inadequate support for the Australian industry is inhibiting the development of that domestic industry.

JOURNALIST: Just on another issue, the Newspoll result. The government is back in front on a two party preferred basis. What is your reaction?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: My reaction is the election’s in 2007 and I believe that Labor is doing extremely well. We finished the parliamentary year very strongly. We had clear policies of differentiation out there – a clearly different on industrial relations primarily. We now have cracks in the government when it comes to childcare. On issue of the environment, Labor has a very different position to the Howard government when it comes to addressing climate change and I think that Australians have experienced the hottest year on record in 2005 and they know they need a government which is prepared to actually take fair dinkum action to address these issues.

JOURNALIST: Are you worried though that Labor has lost some of the ground that it gained towards the end of last year on the IR issue?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look it is traditional the governments increase their standing in January when everyone is on holidays and not focusing on political issues. I believe that this year is going to be a very difficult one for the government. The big issue they have to resolve is Howard verses Costello. Will he stay or will he go? That tension is now coming through in each and every policy debate that is going on. What is Jackie Kelly’s position on childcare? How does that relate to the leadership issue? That is the prism in which I think we are seeing all government issues debated. It is a huge distraction for them and perhaps it explains why they are not taking seriously issues such as climate change.

Thank you.

 

 

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