ANTHONY ALBANESE – TRANSCRIPT – RADIO INTERVIEW – TRIPLE J HACK WITH AVANI DIAS – WEDNESDAY, 24 JUNE 2020
ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
TRIPLE J HACK WITH AVANI DIAS
WEDNESDAY, 24 JUNE 2020
SUBJECTS: National Press Club vision statement on science; climate change and energy policy; emissions targets; coal; carbon capture and storage.
AVANI DIAS, HOST: Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, thank you for coming back on Hack.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good to be with you again.
DIAS: You have seen two of your Party’s Prime Ministers taken down over the issue of climate policy. You’re also battling conflicting views within the Labor Party itself about how to move forward on this issue. Has politics stopped any commitment on dealing with climate change in Australia?
ALBANESE: No. We need to make sure that politics works for people, not against people. And we’ve seen during the coronavirus, listening to science and listening to experts is getting us through. And we need to listen to science and listen to the experts when it comes to climate change, which is why we’re proposing that there needs to be an agreement on the rules for investors that is sensible, that’s flexible, and that is enduring. And then people can argue over what the target should be and what the timeframe should be. But if you have that certainty in place, you will get the investment. And we know that the cheapest form of new energy production is, of course, renewables.
DIAS: You’ve written to the Prime Minister saying that you back a large proportion of the Government’s climate plan and technology investments that it’s proposing. And I want to take you through a couple of those sections that the Government’s looking at. And the first is gas. Researchers have been pretty critical of this commitment to gas because it is still a fossil fuel. It is less emissions than coal. But it still involves emissions. How can that get us to the goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 that you committed to?
ALBANESE: Well, it can’t by itself. That’s the point. But gas will continue to play a role. It plays a role at the moment in terms of our energy mix. But what we need to do is to recognise that the future is in renewables. The problem for the Government is that it speaks about gas to the exclusion of renewables. And that’s not a practical way for us to get to where we need to get to which is net zero emissions by 2050.
DIAS: So, why are you supporting a plan that supports gas?
ALBANESE: Well, what we’ve said is there are elements of the plan that are sensible if you actually look at it overall. This actually says that renewables have such an important role to play.
DIAS: To jump in, you keep repeating that renewables as such an important way to get to that net zero target. Yet this plan does not prioritise things like solar and hydro and wind. So, why are you backing it?
ALBANESE: Well, we’re not backing it. What we’re saying is, what we’re backing is a framework of either a clean energy target or framework that drives investment. And we believe that once you had that framework in place, what you will get is shift to renewables. Because renewables are the cheapest form of new energy.
DIAS: Is this really going to see that shift to renewables if this plan still involves coal? It doesn’t rule out coal. And we’ve heard time and time again from scientists that as long as coal mining exists in Australia, we’re not going to get to that net zero emissions target.
ALBANESE: Well, we know, for example, that there hasn’t been a new coal-fired power plant built in Australia for a long period of time. And that’s because the economics of it mean that renewables are far cheaper. The Government’s out there and has funded the proponents of a new coal-fired power station, $4 million, to see whether it stacks up.
DIAS: So, why are you waiting to a technology plan by the Government that actually doesn’t rule out coal?
ALBANESE: We are not committing to a technology plan. What we’re committing to is a framework and a driver of energy policy, which is what is missing.
DIAS: You’re committing to this framework, so for young Australians listening, what exactly do you mean by that?
ALBANESE: A framework that drives energy investments. So, for example, the renewable energy target, what it did was mandate that you needed to have 20 per cent of renewable energy in the system by 2020. So that that drove the investment certainty and provided for the transformation that we’ve seen up to this point. Now, that ran out. That target was achieved in 2019. At the moment, there’s no mechanism, there’s no framework for policy and for investment. There is no energy policy in this country at the moment.
DIAS: Opposition Leader, one thing that you have written to the Prime Minister today about is this idea of carbon capture and storage. And you’ve said that you do support that concept. In theory, it’s storing pollution from fossil fuel emitting power stations, putting them back into the ground. The coal industry says that it works, but it hasn’t been proven to be effective, both here in Australia and overseas, it’s actually cost billions of dollars for taxpayers. Why are you backing a policy like this that doesn’t have the evidence to back it up?
ALBANESE: Well, it actually is stacking up in terms of Gorgon.
DIAS: The Gorgon Project, it in particular, cost taxpayers $60 million. There were technical issues, it was delayed in operations. Is that stacking up?
ALBANESE: Gorgon is the largest carbon capture and storage project in the world. And that was a condition of that project going ahead. The other area where it can stack up is in areas including for some manufacturing and some other production, not coal-fired power stations, but in others as well, the carbon capture and storage can be an effective mechanism. And what’s more, is the International Energy Agency, the International Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, say that CCS has a role to play in achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
DIAS: Okay. Opposition Leader, thank you so much for coming back on Hack.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much for having me.