Powering Australia Press Conference

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Friday, 3rd December 2021

Powering Australia Press Conference

with Chris Bowen MP

SUBJECTS: Labor’s Powering Australia plan; climate change; medium term targets; net zero by 2050; electric vehicles; Labor’s policy agenda; Federal election.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks very much for joining me. Today, I announce Labor's plan to create jobs, cut power bills, boost renewables and reduce emissions. Labor’s Powering Australia plan is fully costed. And we have released the modelling today by RepuTex. This is the most comprehensive modelling ever done for any policy by any opposition in Australia's history since Federation. Our plan will create 604,000 extra jobs by 2030. Five out of every six of there will be in regional Australia. It will unlock $52 billion of private sector investment in Australian industries. It will see electricity prices fall from the current level by $275 for household by 2025, at the end of our first term if we are successful. Over the forward estimates, the cost to the budget will be $683 million. Australian business is leading. It is time that the Australian Government caught up. 

That is why our plan to create jobs, cut power bills, boost renewables and reduce emissions, is the right plan for Australia. It has key elements to it, some of which we have announced previously, but today we have put it all together a comprehensive plan to take Australia forward, to modernise the electricity grid with the Rewiring the Nation plan. It is time it was brought into the 21st century. Community Batteries for shared storage, solar banks for households that can't install rooftop panels. We want to reduce Australian public services’ own emissions to net zero by 2030. It is time that Government lead. And a Labor Government would do just that. We would exclude the Australian Defence Force, the AFP, Border Force and security agencies from this. But facilities that are already covered by the Government's safeguard mechanism will adopt the Business Council's recommendation, to quote them, that baselines be reduced predictably and gradually over time. And we will do so in a way that is consistent with reaching net zero emissions by 2050. We will also protect the competitiveness of emissions intensive trade exposed industries by ensuring that they will not face a greater constraint than any of their competitors. We will establish a Powering the Regions fund from the existing Emissions Reductions fund and Climate Solutions Fund. But in addition to that, we allocate up to $3 billion of the National Reconstruction Fund for industries to adapt and new industries to grow, including in areas including areas like green metals, hydrogen electrolysers, and agricultural methane reduction. We will remove taxes from cheaper electric vehicles. We will develop a National Electric Vehicle Strategy, including the necessary infrastructure rollouts. We want Australians to benefit in terms of jobs. And that is why we will create New Energy Apprenticeships to make sure that the work can be done.

What we have done here, and we are announcing today, is good policy consistent with net zero by 2050. What we didn't do was adopt a target and then work back. What we did was work through what are the good policy mechanisms that will see a growth in jobs, a reduction in emissions, growth in renewables and a reduction in power prices for households and business, and then see where that came up through the modelling. And the comprehensive plan, the modelling shows, will result in a 43 per cent reduction by 2030 on 2005 levels. It is consistent, as well, with the COP26 statement calling for an updated target of those countries that didn't do that at the Glasgow Conference, and for that to happen by 2022.

Now, I note that the Federal Government, the Australian Government, signed up to that communique, but then put out a media release just afterwards saying they didn't really mean it and they won't change anything because Barnaby Joyce wouldn’t let us. This Government has had over 20 attempts at an energy policy without landing one. This policy is the one Labor will take to the election and the one policy we will implement in Government. In Glasgow, Scott Morrison gave an empty speech to an empty room with empty promises and no plan. This is a Government that is frozen in time while the world warms around it.

I expect the Government to lie about this policy. As a pattern, a behaviour with this Prime Minister, he has made public comment on it without seeing it, let alone looking at the modelling. We have made sure that we have got this right over a period of time. We have released it when I said we would, after Glasgow and when we could have certainty going forward.

Business wants certainty. That is why the Business Council, the Australian Industry Group, and other business organisations have all been crying out for it. Major businesses and peak organisations all called for net zero by 2050 well before this Government did. And this Government, of course, just really have a vibe rather than a policy or a plan. This plan will ensure that no business and no worker is left behind. It ensures that Australia can take our place, which we should, as a renewable energy superpower for the world. One where high-value manufacturing and jobs are created, powered by cleaner, cheaper power.

In conclusion, this plan will create jobs, cut power bills, boost renewables and reduce emissions. It is the right plan for Australia going forward. It is the plan that acknowledges what business wants. It is the plan that acknowledges that the world economy is demanding this as, belatedly, senior Government ministers have acknowledged. They have acknowledged what Australia needs to do. They just don't have a plan to get there. A future Labor Government does - consistent with our optimistic view that Australia can be a better country coming out of the global pandemic, that we should be optimistic about our future, that we should seize the opportunities that are there due to the natural advantages we have located in the fastest growing region of the world in human history with the abundant renewable resources as well as other resources that we have in this country. Our greatest resource, of course, is our people. And what this plan does is maximise the potential of those people to get high-paid, good, secure work, and for households and businesses to have much cheaper and cleaner energy.

CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY: Thanks, Anthony. Lower power prices, more jobs, lower emissions. That is what the Powering Australia plan that the Albanese Labor Government will deliver for Australians, that is what it will do. Lower power prices, more jobs, lower emissions. Over the last eight years Australia has been missing out on the jobs opportunity that is the world's climate emergency. Australians are paying more for electricity than they should be because this Government keeps missing opportunities. And because of Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party, our emissions are coming down fast enough to protect our planet for future generations. It will be up to the Albanese Labor Government to fix it. And fix it, we will.

As Anthony said, we are releasing the most comprehensive modelling that any opposition has ever commissioned and released to support a policy. This modelling has been conducted by RepuTex, Australia's leading energy economists, commissioned by the Federal Government, the current Federal Government, commissioned by many of Australia by the biggest companies to advise them. This work has been independently conducted and explains in detail the implications of Labor's policies for the Australian economy and the positive economic benefit they have. The Federal Government released a fortune cookie, and they released their policy scribbled on the back of a coaster. We, as the alternative government, are releasing a plan supported by compressive evidence. Anthony ran through the figures, but they are important enough to repeat. 604,000 jobs created. Energy bills which will be $275 for the average house lower in 2025 than today. $378 lower by 2035. Five out of the six jobs created in Australia’s regions, the regions that have powered Australia for so long, the Hunter Valley, Central Queensland, the Pilbara, Latrobe Valley, they will be the same areas that will power Australia into the future. That is why the regions are the big winners under Labor's plan. The modelling shows that Labor's policy will reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, and Australia's electricity market will be 82 per cent renewable under the policies of an Albanese Labor Government. 43 per cent will be Australia's new target communicated to the COP by the Albanese Labor Government.

It isn’t an ambition. It isn't aspiration. It is the result by our policies. Not wished in to being that somehow technology will somehow magically appear. It is the concrete result of policy. And that will be communicated to the COP. It is a target with teeth. Whereas the Morrison Government was embarrassed at Glasgow and they embarrassed Australia, we will be proud of our policies and an Albanese Labor Government will bid to host COP29 in Australia and we will be inviting our Pacific Island friends and neighbours to join us in hosting it if they wish.

Also, as Climate Change Minister, in Anthony’s Government, I will be reporting annually the Parliament on progress in a way similar to the Government's reports on Indigenous disadvantage. We want to be held to account for progress, we want the Parliament to be focusing on how well we are doing as a country. Today, we are announcing further comprehensive policies, building on our Rewiring the Nation, electric vehicle tax cuts, Community Batteries, New Energy Apprentices. As Anthony said, the Australian public service will be net zero by 2030, 75 per cent of new vehicle purchases in the Commonwealth fleet will be EVs by 2025. We will introduce real-world testing of motor vehicles emissions to give Australians the informed choice they need. They want to reduce their emissions through the transport. And they want real choices and real information. And we fund real-world testing. We will fund 85 solar banks across Australia to open up the renewable energy revolution to those who can't afford solar or who are renters of in strata when they get solar panels. These people deserve the reduced prices that come with having solar energy, and it will complement the Community Battery policy as well.

And then turning to the safeguard mechanism, as you know, the Abbott Government told the Australian people they would introduce the safeguard mechanism to ensure carbon pollution by the biggest emitters wouldn't go up. It isn't working. Emissions have gone up from these facilities since it was introduced by seven per cent since introduced. The Business Council of Australia has said that with an enhanced safeguard mechanism, we can send clear signal to the market, drive investment and deliver more jobs and stronger regions. The Business Council is right. The AIG has called for the same reform. An Albanese-Labor Government will ask the clean energy regulator to gradually reduce the emissions baselines for entities currently covered by the safeguard mechanism to be consistent with net zero. We will require the clean energy regulator to ensure any emissions intensive trade exposed facility will place a carbon constraint no more onerous than international competitors. That is factored into modelling, that instruction to the clean energy regulator is factored into the emissions reductions we can achieve.

The Liberals and Nationals will say all sorts of things about the safeguard mechanism. All sorts of scare campaigns will be waged. But the Government will have some explaining to do. Why does this Liberal-National Government think they know more about business than business knows about business? Why does the Morrison Government think they know more about it than the Business Council? Why does the Morrison Government think they know more about industry than the Australian Industry Group? 

We want to work with industry and business on this massive economic opportunity. We want to be partners with business. Anthony as Prime Minister, me as Climate Change Minister, want to be equal partners with Australia's business in this massive transformation. The Morrison Government thinks business is wrong. Well, we will be businesses’ partners. The Morrison Government is businesses’ enemy. By rejecting the recommendations of the Business Council and the AIG, Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor are working against the interests of the Australian economy and Australian business.

In addition, as Anthony said, we are announcing two initiatives to support industry, with a focus on regions, the Powering the Regions Fund and the allocation under the National Reconstruction Fund for decarbonising existing industry in the regions, for development of new energy industries including green hydrogen and workforce development and skills development.

Eight years of denial and delay is eight years too many. Eight years of policy chop and change has to end. It is time for a Federal Government that understands that the world's climate emergency is Australia's jobs opportunity. The Federal Government that will understand that will be the Albanese-Labor Government.

JOURNALIST: $275 is a big claim to make. And Australians have seen a lot of claims in the past for household benefit from climate policies. How sure are you that the 275 is robust when you only have three years to deliver it from ‘22 to ‘25? What calculation are you making now about what a household bill is currently, and what is it about this new policy? Is it the grid investment or something else that actually generates that to $275 benefit?

ALBANESE: Well, I don't think, I know. I know because we have done the modelling. The modelling is available. We are releasing it here today. That is the average reduction in power prices from today as a result of the suite of policies which we have announced.

JOURNALIST: Two things the Government is going to say off the bat. One thing Mr Bowen alluded to. They are going to say that lowering the baseline on the safeguard mechanism is as good as a carbon tax. How do you counter that? The second thing is if 45 per cent at the last election was too much, in your words, why isn't 43?

ALBANESE: What we have done with our plan is to outline the policies going forward, each of which are positive policies to grow the economy, to grow jobs, to lower energy prices. So, we have not done a figure and then worked backwards. What we have done is outline good policy development, consistent, it must be said, with what, overwhelmingly, business is calling for. We have consulted the business community, we have consulted the union movement, we have consulted very, very broadly. We have sat down with economists. We have sat down with experts across a range of areas. And you would agree, I would hope, that we have been patient, as well, to make sure that one of the things that I said was that we would have one announcement this term. We have done that. We are very confident that this is exactly the right policy going forward. It is consistent with getting to net zero by 2050. We know, as well, that over a period of time, technology has got better, of course, and renewables have come down in price. The benefit of the shift to clean energy is therefore all to see. Business knows it. Industry knows it. Everyone except for the Federal Government.

JOURNALIST: Just on the detail of the safeguard mechanism, is it the case that it only applies to businesses and that no new entrants will come into the scheme?

BOWEN: We are not changing the architecture. Exactly the same architecture as the Government has. We're not extending the reach of it to any new entities. I know the Business Council suggested that and we have adopted the recommendations on the baseline, but we feel those entities that are currently covered is the right policy balance.

JOURNALIST: Is it the case that it is the aggregate of those that has to come down to net zero by 2050 and not each one?

BOWEN: Yes. And there will be a case-by-case analysis, working with each facility. Each facility is different. And they are already recognised that not each facility will change at the same trajectory. So, it will be done facility by facility, by the clean energy regulator. Two-thirds of the facilities are committed to net zero already.

JOURNALIST: Back on Mark's question, and I don't think you answered it. I read through the document and you were saying something like 213 million tons from under the safeguard mechanism under the biggest polluters. How does that not translate to higher consumer cost given that is quite a lot of carbon cost to be abated and abating carbon cost?

ALBANESE: That is not right. Because one of the things that businesses know and the reason why the Business Council has adopted the position they have, and the Australian Industry Group, is that shifting to cleaner energy is shifting to cheaper energy and lowering business cost, just like when you - if you have solar panels on your house - you have made a decision to invest and spend capital, spend some money. You get a return on that over a short period of time for the average household, it is about five or six years. From that point on, you are better off. From that point on, you are in a good position. Which is one of the reasons why a range of the policies that we have, the investment of vehicles that we have spoken about, are about assisting business through that period, through grants or loans, in order to make sure they get that investment, so that their costs actually come down, not up. That is why a range of businesses, if you speak to BlueScope Steel, other businesses that are looking at transitioning their energy needs, it is about reducing cost and not increasing them.

BOWEN: One hundred per cent. What are businesses calling for? Certainty to assist them on that trajectory. It is two-thirds of the facilities covered are committed to net zero. They want a stable policy framework. They are begging for a stable policy framework. The BCA and the AIG are coming at this with a clear and well-considered approach. And as Anthony said, one of the biggest, of course, impost on the cost is energy. Renewable energy is being unleashed, primarily through the Rewiring the Nation policy, which the modelling finds, and I invite you to go through the modelling. These are not Anthony’s figures or my figures. It is independent modelling by Australia's preeminent economic environmental and energy economists.

JOURNALIST: At the last election you wanted to be the Treasurer of this country, so you are familiar with financial books. $24 billion in public investment, where in the budget does that come from?

BOWEN: That is mainly the Rewiring the Nation Corporation, which will be an off-budget fund, in keeping with the traditional and bipartisan budget mechanisms like the CEFC and other off-budget funds.

ALBANESE: That was announced in my first Budget Reply.

JOURNALIST: What are you assuming the carbon price will be over the course of your plan? And secondly, you want to get more people driving EVs in this country. Carmakers say our settings are not right in terms of our emission standards. What are you doing about that?

BOWEN: In terms of the cost of the abatement, the baseline in the Government’s modelling, the alternative budget accepts this as the baseline and it calculates the impact of Labor’s decisions on that and you get the emissions reduction as a result.

JOURNALIST: What is that figure?

BOWEN: It is the same figure as in the Budget.

ALBANESE: It is the Government's figure. 

BOWEN: Same as the Government’s figure.

JOURNALIST: Which is what?

BOWEN: I think it is $24, isn't it? That is correct and that is accepted as the baseline. In relation to electric vehicles, we have obviously worked hard on our electric vehicle policy. Hence, we want Australians to have more choice. We want to reduce the cost of EVs by cutting taxes. Mr Morrison and Mr Taylor want to talk about taxes. How about he cuts the tax on EVs? We want Australians to have informed choice, hence the real-world testing. The FCAI introduced a voluntary code and we want to see that work and let them get on with that on a voluntary basis. We do not feel the need to introduce a mandatory code.

JOURNALIST: I have got a couple. You said that the emissions intensive trade exposed sector would not face any more onerous measures than their overseas counterparts. Will be entities also be compensated in the way that they were under the clean energy package or not? That is the first question. Second is what proportion of your promised abatement is coming from offsets? Is there proportion of the abatement coming from offsets? And, also, the science would say - notwithstanding the fact that you have done modelling and arranged policies to see what abatement you can achieve – the climate science would say the target should be higher than 43, and significantly higher. What is your response to that?

BOWEN: I will answer the first two and the Leader will do the last one. In relation to - I can't remember what order you ask them in, but I will answer in the order that they come to mind – in relation to the mix between abatement and offsets, that will be opened to be entities to work out their least-cost mechanism. The modelling assumes 50 per cent either way so the modelling assumes that 50 per cent of the abatement will be achieved by direct investment to reduce emissions and 50 per cent will be achieved by buying offsets which will, of course, re-enliven the carbon market in Australia, which is a good thing. That creates economic activity as well but ultimately that is the sound assumption that the modellers have made. But ultimately it is about the facilities as to how they achieve their abatement in line with the clean energy regulator. That will be up to the clean energy regulator. But the instruction of the clean energy regulator is that no entity will face a higher carbon constraint than their international competitors, so that will be their primary mechanism. They will look at the international competition and they will work cooperatively with facilities as they do now. But the baseline has been set too high and does not receive any abatement and that is why industry are calling out for a better framework which we will provide.

ALBANESE: On the end figure of 43, as I said, what my request to Chris as the Shadow Minister in the economic team, was to look at what was a good policy and then get it modelled and get an outcome that was in Australia's interests going forward. We think the difference between what we are putting forward here and the Government's position, is that if we are successful next year, we will be able to go to an international climate change conference and not be in the naughty corner. Our figure is pretty consistent with Canada, for example, who have a 2030 target of 40-45. Canada economy is very similar to Australia's. We think that we have got absolutely the balance right. Because one of the things that I wanted to make sure is that we have a policy that doesn't leave people behind, that supports industry, that supports jobs, that gets the balance right. This Government haven't got the balance right. This Government have higher power prices because of their failure to act. They have less jobs because of their failure to act. They have been warned about international action, including in trade and other measures, but have not done anything about it to alleviate that. So, this Government are very vulnerable going forward. And Australia is in a position, as well, whereby going forward they will, I think, not be in a position by next year's Conference of the Parties to be able to continue to say their target is 26-28. They are not being honest with the Australian people. Like at last election, they said they were opposed to net zero by 2050. They are not being honest with themselves. They say they have a target of 26-28 but they will achieve 30-35, but they will not legislate any of it and they won’t really commit to any of it because it is just a vibe. I think that we need to be honest and fair dinkum with the Australian people going forward. 

JOURNALIST: Just on the issue of getting the balance of emissions reduction ambition right. Independent think tank Climate Works at Melbourne University have forecast that state action alone with their renewable energy targets and EVs policies will get the country to around 42 per cent emissions reduction. You have also cast high integration of renewables as a great economic activity and at the same time you have been criticised by green groups for not going hard enough on emissions reduction. Have you been too cautious? Have you been overly cautious, perhaps, not to use loaded language, have you been overly cautious in terms of getting the balance right? Could you have gone a bit harder?

ALBANESE: We have got the balance right. This is a Labor plan. It is a Labor plan for jobs and to cut energy prices.

JOURNALIST: But you are not going harder than the states’ actions, though.

ALBANESE: I do note this is about state plans – Scott Morrison, I notice, has been out there criticising our plan without seeing it, but he just makes things up, so I guess you don't have to look at things in order to make comments on it. The Liberal state governments of New South Wales and South Australia both have 50 per cent targets by 2030 and Tasmania has 100 per cent by 2030, so I suggest he have a chat with Dominic Perrottet. And I also note that today I welcome the fact that the New South Wales Government is announcing a renewable energy zone in the Hunter. That is a good policy. That is forward-looking. There is one in New England that Barnaby Joyce is opposed to. I can't understand why they are opposed to investment and jobs in their own electorates.

BOWEN: In relation to state policy, state policy, as opposed to state targets, are reflected in the Government's target or the Government's projection, I should say. It is our reading of their modelling – not their targets, but the actual state policies will be reflected in the Government's baseline. So, that is not quite with respect an accurate reflection of the two models. It is adding in some apples and pears type equations. Those state actions are already included in the Government baseline. What we do is then adds to that by the policies, most particularly, Rewiring the Nation and safeguards which delivers real, quantifiable emissions reduction.

JOURNALIST: Just on electric vehicles again, transport emissions is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country, 60 per cent since 1990s. This policy is reducing this by about $2,000 and contributing about one per cent overall to the extra reduction in emissions. What is your message to carmakers like Volkswagen who have come out and publicly said Australia is missing an opportunity here and they are not sending EVs into the country until we get our settings right? Why didn’t you go further than this?

ALBANESE: Carmakers are acting. I drove a hydrogen fuel-cell Hyundai around Parliament House for laps during the week, I think for Channel Nine, to give you a free plug to play back the footage. What their representative told me was that their latest importation of vehicles here, they sold out every one of the vehicles in hours. There is a massive shift towards replacing diesel vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells and petrol internal combustion engines with electric vehicles. We think that lowering the price, particularly the measures that we have on fringe benefits tax that are aimed at the fleet – if you look at Australian vehicles in Australia, about one-third of new vehicles from the figures when I was Transport Minister - it might have changed a little bit – are for fleet vehicles. That is how they enter the market. If you change the price particularly aimed at that, you really provide a significant incentive. And businesses across the board are doing that. State governments are doing it, the Federal Government is doing it. And guess what? We will still have a weekend.

BOWEN: Can I just add to that in terms of the detail, just to add to everything Anthony has said, Anthony is right. You mentioned the tariff reduction and you didn't mention the fringe benefits abolition on electric vehicles which will reduce the cost of a car by $9,000. Add that to the tariff reduction and you have a very significant reduction. As Anthony said, the fleet is a very big part. And after three years on average, the fleet sell their cars and then it hits the second-hand market. It will take three years or so to flow through to the second-hand market. But that is a very important part of our policy.

JOURNALIST: Two questions. First of all, can you please clarify whether your 43 per cent target for 2030 will be something that you are looking to legislate if you win power? Secondly, you have said at length here that business wants more ambition, so you are doing what business wants by acting with more ambition. But your 43 per cent target is slightly lower than what was taken by Labor to the 2019 election, and the Business Council of Australia earlier this year called for a 46-50 per cent cut by 2030. Why not – if you are really in step with business and if you are really listening to business ambition – why are you going a little bit behind them? Why not match what they are doing? On one level you are saying we are giving business the ambition it wants, but you are not quite getting there with your target.

ALBANESE: This is a Labor policy. This is a policy from the alternative government of Australia that is fully costed. It is worked through, that I think has got the right element of ambition. It is a modest policy. We do not pretend that it is a radical policy. It is a consistent policy with our approach. It will do the right thing and the right outcomes on jobs and lowering energy prices. A part of the suite of measures that we have so that in our first term – the easy option some people might have suggested, indeed, some people in this room might have suggested to me from time to time – is that we just go along with various things that have been announced by the Government and not differentiate. We are doing the right thing here. The right thing here. We wanted to make sure that we had the detail, the costing, the plan out there. And it is one that we stand by and we will campaign every day between now and the next election, but most importantly look forward to implementing it.

BOWEN: Yes. We will legislate net zero by 2050 and the medium-term targets.

JOURNALIST: What about the 43 per cent target by 2030?

BOWEN: Yes. That is what my yes refers to.

JOURNALIST: Just in terms of the number of jobs that you are speaking at here, how many jobs will also be lost from industries that will either be phasing out their work or will have a net negative benefit from this policy?

ALBANESE: This is a positive policy. In the modelling, very clearly, it envisages that there will be no bring forward of any closures, for example. None. This policy will not have an impact on that. This is a positive policy to create jobs.

BOWEN: Absolutely. The thing is that Australia will need more electricity, not less, as we electrify our vehicles and electrify everything. We will need more electricity and not less. All the assumptions and all the conclusions in the modelling shows that the job impact, and as Anthony said, no bring forward of coal-fired power closures as a result of any of these policies.

JOURNALIST: Rightly or wrongly, a lot of the debate will be about the 43 per cent number. Mr Morrison said today that number is not safe for Hunter, not safe for Gladstone and not safe for jobs. I am sure he is not saying the word Hunter just as a coincidence. What makes you think that figure won't be too high in seats in regional Queensland and regional New South Wales but also seen as not ambitious enough in inner-city seats like Macnamara or Griffith?

ALBANESE: He said that net zero by 2050 would have a devastating impact on the economy before he then supported it. This is a guy who said that electric vehicles would end the weekend before he denied saying that and pretended that he supported it. This is a guy who just attacks anything and is negative. I think that one of the big distinctions at the next election will be a tired Government that is out of puff. We saw yesterday a Government that lost the Education Minister and Health Minister on one day, during a pandemic. We see another retirement from government ranks this morning in Damian Drum. We see a Government that doesn't have a plan for today, let alone any concept of a vision for tomorrow. I think that the first step towards creating a better future is being able to imagine one, being able to set in place concrete plans to do so. Scott Morrison wants to be elected and have a second decade in office based upon just negative plans. He stood up a few weeks ago before Glasgow, just in the days beforehand, they did a press conference, and they did not release modelling. They just released kind of a vibe. They now stand in the Parliament and give speeches about how legislation is bad. I think that this is a Government that do not deserve a second term in office. This is just one of the policy announcements that we will be making in coming days. Those people who have been here for this term know that I outlined at the beginning of my leadership what the plan would be, the four stages. We are now in the fourth quarter. The wind is at our back. We will have this today, we will have a major campaign rally on Sunday, and more to come. Watch this space. But we will be putting forward a positive, optimistic view of Australia's future.

JOURNALIST: Surely, if you had a more aggressive approach to fuel standards, you would get a quicker transformation in the transport area. Have you shied away from that because of a fear of a public backlash, or do you have some better rationale for that?

BOWEN: On vehicle emissions standards, the Government has a policy on fuel standards which we support announced in the last Budget. 

JOURNALIST: On vehicle emission standards?

BOWEN: As we have said, we have looked closely at all the options. We have consulted widely, as you would expect any opposition to do, including with the manufacturers. I note the manufacturing voluntary code. We want to see that work. We want to work with manufacturers for their voluntary code to work. 

JOURNALIST: Why keep it voluntary?

BOWEN: Because we believe that is the right model for now. Give it a chance to work. And we will reduce the cost of EVs, by the tax cut, and we will work proactively to see the EV take-up increased by the tax cut for private fleets, by buying 75 per cent of the Commonwealth fleet being new electric vehicles by 2025. These are all big and important policy levers. 

Can I just add in relation to the question before about the Government's scare campaign, if I can be indulgent? Yes, Josh Frydenberg and Scott Morrison have already released comment today before they have seen a policy. It just shows how standard their behaviour is. Josh Frydenberg said Labor never models or cost their policies. Au contraire. He said that before he saw the document. Scott Morrison said it would put electricity prices up, before he must have been aware of modelling that shows that it puts electricity prices down. These guys are liars. And they will continue to lie. We are up for a good strong debate about Australia's future.

JOURNALIST: I think you were talking about taking some of the Government's assumptions and building on them, and in the Government's modelling it had the secret source, 15 per cent that would get us to 35 per cent. Are you accepting that assumption? Asking the same question in a different way, is there any assumption about technological change that underpins your 43 per cent?

BOWEN: We have accepted the Government’s assumptions, as you would expect. If I could just answer the question you have just asked. Of course, the modellers – when you say we, we didn't do the modelling – our independent modellers, RepuTex, took the Government's modelling as a baseline and worked out what will change as a result of our policies. Our safeguards mechanisms would encourage firms to adopt new technology. We have never said to the contrary that new technology will not play an important role in getting to net zero. What we don't think is that it will just happen without a policy framework like the safeguards mechanisms change to encourage and work with industry to adopt that new technology. That is the difference. A more minor policy we are announcing today, which we haven't mentioned because it is part of a suite of policies, is a modest $8 million development in development of the Asparagopsis seaweed to help reduce methane emissions. That is technology. But it will require investment. You can't magic it up. You can't assume it will happen. Of course, technology has a role to play, particularly in the outer years, but you need the policy framework to deliver it. That is what is different. Anthony Albanese as Prime Minister will preside over a policy framework to deliver it. Scott Morrison as Prime Minister hopes it will conjure up.

JOURNALIST: In your first headland speech, you made a point – 

ALBANESE: Headland speech was the other guy.

JOURNALIST: Well, the speech you gave when you first became Leader. You said the aim was to broaden Labor's pitch on climate policy beyond the environment to the economy and jobs. Is the emphasis of this policy more on the economy and jobs now than the environment or the other way around?

ALBANESE: Can I make this point? If people didn't believe in climate change, and there's a few on the other side in the Government ranks, using clean energy is still smart policy. Because it drives down costs, it lifts productivity and boost the economy and it creates jobs. I make that point. It is a point I made when I was the climate change spokesperson for the Labor Party under Kim Beazley's leadership, when we developed a whole suite of policies. But there has been a substantial change since then. Then, you had to send a signal to the market about renewables because you needed to increase the volume of them to decrease the price. Now, government just needs to get out of the way in terms of not having 20 different policies which create a handbrake on investment. Because business knows that the cheapest form of new energy is renewables. So, that is one of the differences. But we also have a range of other things to say. It is there outlined in our policy documents. We see climate change as a national security issue. We think that one of the ways in which we engage in the Indo-Pacific, and with our neighbours, and in the globe, is by having a credible climate change policy. If you ask people in the US administration at the moment, for example, about Australia's position, the truth is they are scathing of it. Because Australia is sitting back, one of the few countries that at Glasgow refused to increase any of its ambitions going forward, which is what it was about. So, we also do see it as a part of our international policy. That is why we have committed to making a bid to host the next COP that is available in three years' time. And that is why I think that this is a policy that will fit, as well, with the overall approach that we have to secure work, to jobs and going forward.

JOURNALIST: You highlighted what you said was the Prime Minister's contradictions in his positions on this. But can I go back to my original question and get an answer? If you refer to be 45 per cent reduction in the last election as a mistake and too ambitious, how can you refer to this 43 per cent as modest?

ALBANESE: I referred to the policy. We did not win the election. What you have got to do when you are not successful is not to do the same thing and expect a different outcome. What you need to do is to examine the lessons which are there. We did that. We did that. And I stood up at the National Press Club and outlined, when we released transparently the first stage of our four-stage plan, was review. Then we did the vision statements second, then we did the platform throughout National Conference. Now we are doing the policy. And one of the lessons, if you go back and have a look at the Weatherill-Emerson review, was that there was difficulty answering some of the questions of cost and economic impact. The Labor Party has commissioned this. We went to an independent body, the most serious body that we could find. It is at a substantial cost. We have modelled it. It is more substantial than any policy analysis in terms of economic costing than any policy that has been released in any area by any opposition at any level of government in Australia. That is the lesson. That is the lesson. That is why this is right, this policy. We did not pick a figure and then not be able to explain how we can get there. What we have done is outline a series of policies. And you can see how much they contribute to the reduction in emissions going forward. 

Thanks very much.


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Electorate Office

334a Marrickville Road

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734
Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

Parliament House Office

PO Box 6022

Phone: (02) 6277 4022
Fax: (02) 6277 8562

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734
Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au


Electorate Office

334a Marrickville Road

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734
Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

Parliament House Office

PO Box 6022

Phone: (02) 6277 4022
Fax: (02) 6277 8562

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734
Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which our offices stand and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge the sorrow of the Stolen Generations and the impacts of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We also recognise the resilience, strength and pride of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Authorised by Anthony Albanese. 334a Marrickville Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204.