Feb 26, 2020






SUBJECTS: Labor’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050; South Australian submarine jobs; impact of bushfires and coronavirus on the economy.

DAVID PENBERTHY, HOST: Anthony Albanese joins us. Albo, good morning to you.


PENBERTHY: Albo, thanks for joining us. Labor is committed to a zero emissions target by 2050. Now, the one question that hounded your predecessor in which he was unable to ask, particularly during the election campaign last year, was how much this will cost. Are you in a position to provide an answer the Bill Shorten couldn’t?

ALBANESE: Well, absolutely. What we know is that the CSIRO tells us through research that it will be more growth, higher wages, lower energy costs as well as while we’re lowering our emissions. And what the Government can’t talk about is the cost of inaction and that every single analysis that has been done tells us that the cost of inaction will be far greater than any cost of action. And that indeed, by moving towards a net zero position will actually see more jobs created. And that’s why there’s no accident that every state and territory including the South Australian Liberal Government, or why the Business Council of Australia, why every major Australian company, including the biggest miner BHP, along with Santos, another mining company, Qantas, the biggest airline, Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, the Business Council, the peak organisations, all support zero net emissions along with 73 other countries. Because the science tells us that if the industrialised world doesn’t move to zero net emissions, the consequences are quite catastrophic. And unfortunately, the season we have just seen, the impact on the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island. And it shows us some of what those consequences will be.

PENBERTHY: That’s the target. What’s the mechanism by which you will achieve it?

ALBANESE: Well, what we’re doing is consulting. We are consulting with the industry. There’s two years until the next election. We are making it very clear that when the Government signed the Paris Accord, by the way, they signed up to, they don’t concede this, but the fact is that it is regarded in the documentation that we need to move to zero net emissions.

PENBERTHY: We had things like the National Energy Guarantee, direct action was to the Tony Abbott plan. What is the policy position that will make this more than just pie in the sky? Is it a carbon tax? Is it something like that? Would you consider something like the Conservative Party in the UK who have gone down this path? They’re saying they’re going to ban the sale of diesel petrol cars by 2035. Is that something that is under consideration?

ALBANESE: No, it’s not.

PENBERTHY: So, how are you going to do it?

ALBANESE: Well, what’s under consideration is sector by sector. We would look at something like a National Energy Guarantee, we’ve said that. That was a proposal that was used to be supported by the Government that came from the committee established under Kerry Schott, independent experts advising Government. But individual sectors, if you go online, you can look at an organisation like Meat and Livestock Australia that’s moving towards zero net emissions by 2030 is what they’re looking at, having a carbon neutral position for that sector. And you have a look at what farmers are doing, what various sectors are doing. Qantas, for example, are looking at biofuels, doing all sorts of measures to lower their emissions. Companies are looking at acting across the board.

PENBERTHY: So Albo, could it be as simple as Government, the Commonwealth, saying to businesses, ‘You all need your net zero emission strategy and that’s mandated by law’? Because your point seems to be that the private sector is already doing it anyway out of a sense of responsibility or knowing that the wind is changing in terms of public opinion. This can be a private sector led thing.

ALBANESE: Well, the thing as well about net zero emissions of course, is that doesn’t imply that no one has any emissions. It means carbon neutrality across the board. So, in some sectors like forestry, for example, has a great opportunity to expand, to be funded for doing that, to become essentially a carbon sink taking carbon out of the atmosphere. So, carbon neutrality is across the entire sectors. The truth is that the motor vehicle industry, of course, every single car manufacturer in the world, no one is looking at the internal combustion engine. They are all looking at electric vehicles. And that is something that is just happening. That was recognised by Josh Frydenberg or used to be before they ran a scare campaign. This is just something that is flowing through the economy. It does need Government leadership to get there. And it should be the case that issues like net zero, for example, are not controversial overseas. In Britain, the example that you used, the Leader of the Conservative Party, the Government, and the Leader of the Labour Party, the Opposition, five years ago signed an agreement to work together and to de-politicise these issues. And they’re not political in the United Kingdom, which has of course a pretty similar political system to ours. Just as they are not controversial in a range of other countries of 73 countries that have signed up to net zero emissions.

PENBERTHY: Albo, you’ve rebuked from your state Labor colleague, Peter Malinauskas, this morning for your Party’s decision to not back a motion move by South Australian Senator, Rex Patrick, calling for submarine maintenance jobs to stay in South Australia. Why did you guys vote against this?

ALBANESE: Mate, I don’t know from time to time what happens in the Senate, I have got to say. People move motions.

PENBERTHY: It is a big issue here in South Australia.

ALBANESE: I know it is. But also, what often happens in the Senate is that there is grandstanding for various reasons. I’m not aware of what happened in the Senate.

PENBERTHY: If you were aware, what would you have said to your Senate colleagues?

ALBANESE: Well, I haven’t seen the motion. But, one of the things that I’ve said very clearly is that there are jobs and tasks currently being undertaken in South Australia. The Government is undermining the security of those without giving any good reason for why that should occur. And you would need a very good rationale before you move jobs from any part of Australia to another part without explaining why that was in the national interest.

PENBERTHY: So, no one from the Senate contacts the Leader’s office and says, ‘Look this is going to be an issue for at least certainly the South Australian Senators is going to be an issue’. No one seeks any guidance or contacts you?

ALBANESE: The truth is that I’m in the chamber doing House of Reps business.

PENBERTHY: So, did they contact you?

ALBANESE: From time to time Senate motions, really which carry no weight in terms of motion being past or debated, particularly from crossbenchers, may well be as a federal motion, I’m just being honest with you, I’m not aware of that detail of what happened there.

PENBERTHY: The South Australian Labor Senators might want to review their role in how this all panned out. You mentioned Josh Frydenberg.

ALBANESE: Our South Australian Senators, led by Penny Wong, always stand up for South Australia.

PENBERTHY: Well, they didn’t here, on this one, I think. They sat this one out.

ALBANESE: We don’t have, in the House of Reps, we do not have votes on Private Member’s motions.

PENBERTHY: You mentioned before, Albo, Josh Frydenberg. He was doing everything he could yesterday to talk down the prospect of a budget surplus. Now obviously, two huge unforeseen hits on the economy this year. The bushfires, the scale of those bushfires. And even more so, coronavirus. We’re talking here in Adelaide about thousands of international students not turning up to the academic year. Are you guys cutting the Government a bit of slack here, or do you think they’re using it as an excuse?

ALBANESE: Well, the Government was flat before. The economy was flat before the coronavirus and before bushfires. We were arguing, you will recall on my regular spot on your program, talking about bringing forward the second stage of the tax cuts. We argued at the time that occur, that would be a good measure. We were calling for not additional project, necessarily. But projects like the North South Road Corridor in Adelaide there. There’s no reason why some of the projects where the planning has been done couldn’t be brought forward. Because we were worried about the softening that’s there in the economy. The problem for this Government is that it doesn’t have any foresight and planning, whether it was the bushfire crisis, whether it is the economy, whether it’s today’s figures that shows that the number of apprentices being taken on around the country is falling dramatically as well, which will have a future impact on our economy, as well as obviously on individuals. And I think that those circumstances were there for a long period of time. Bear in mind, for all of the Government’s rhetoric that it goes on about Labor’s economic management, the fact is that we managed to get through the Global Financial Crisis at the same time that we had fires and floods.

PENBERTHY: Just finally, Albo, I wanted to get to that. In conclusion, you mentioned the GFC where Labor rolled out stimulus spending, should the Government consider a similar thing to what you did under Wayne Swan in 2007/2008?

ALBANESE: No, I don’t think that’s necessary. I think what is necessary, though, is a considered approach for economic management, not the approach to spending that we have seen from this Government that is all about pork-barrelling, whether it be the infrastructure rollout, or the sports rorts scandal. What we need is actually money spent in areas that is the wisest that produces the best outcome for people, not looking at the political map.

PENBERTHY: Federal Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese. Always great to catch up with you for One Tribe. Thanks for that.

ALBANESE: Thanks, guys.