Subject: Energy policy.
HOST: Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese good morning to you both.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
HOST: Right, we are going to kick off with you Chris. Now we know that yesterday – the big energy announcement – a lot of it was about making sure that our power supply is reliable. But given the punishingly high bills that people have had to endure, they are looking to a bit of relief in the hip pocket. Do you think that a saving of possibly 100 bucks or so in there years’ time is enough to get the voters excited?
PYNE: Well I think the point is the more capacity we get into the system, which is what yesterday’s announcement was about – more supply of baseload power – then the more prices will come down and the less they will go up. So the forecast price rises are very high over the next few years. We are actually being able to deliver a saving to consumers. Under the business as usual the price will just keep going up. Now obviously if you can bring more capacity into the market through more supply, more baseload power like gas and like coal, like wind, solar when the wind is blowing, the sun is shining, more hydro, like Steven Marshall’s policy for the interconnector with New South Wales and battery storage, then that will bring down the price because that’s the elements of demand and supply. That is what we are trying to bring about.
HOST: Early days for Labor Albo and I know that Bill Shorten said last night that he is waiting to see the detail. But at first blush, what do you make of the Government’s plan?
ALBANESE: Well this is this week’s plan. This follows the plan that Malcolm Turnbull had supporting an Emissions Trading Scheme, before he supported an Emissions Intensity Scheme, before he supported a Clean Energy Target and before now a new plan, a new plan of which there is no modelling and which they say – it’s not three years’ time David, with respect – it is 13 years’ time.
PYNE: People want solutions Anthony.
ALBANESE: The saving in three years’ time is, with no evidence, no modelling, at best $25, not $100, $25 for some time in the first part of the next decade and they have no modelling and that was conceded by John Pierce last night in the briefing that Labor received. He’s the dude from the Australian Energy Market Commission. It’s all based upon assumptions. We want to actually see some modelling, see a serious plan and we haven’t seen it.
PYNE: I think what Labor wants is for nothing to work actually. That is their strategy – is about for riding into government on a negative platform.
ALBANESE: That’s rubbish Christopher. Unlike what Tony Abbott did, which was to say you wouldn’t be able to have a lamb roast and the world would end, what we said was we supported, when the Government came out with the idea of the Emissions Intensity Scheme, we said yes that is a good plan, we are prepared to be constructive about it. Then they came out with the Finkel review.
PYNE: I think it is time for somebody else to have a go.
ALBANESE: Well you have got nothing to say mate. That’s the problem.
PYNE: Rubbish. We’ve got a policy that is going to reduce prices, is going to bring reliability into the system …
ALBANESE: You’ve got no evidence of it.
PYNE: … and reduce our emissions and the Energy Security Board, which is entirely independent, which Alan Finkel, the Chief Scientist, asked us to set up, has come up with this plan and we have endorsed it and all you can do is have another political argument about it.
ALBANESE: You have no modelling. You can’t provide any facts.
HOST: Anthony we will come back to you. Is there a chance that this is entirely academic, given that it requires changes to the national electricity market. That means the states need to be on board and it sounds like there is no way in hell Jay Weatherill is signing off on this plan.
PYNE: Well Jay Weatherill wants a fight with Canberra. That is his whole political strategy. He has completely run out of ideas. Now the facts about that is that AEMO, the Australian Energy Market Operator, has had to intervene in South Australia several times in the last few weeks to keep the lights on in our state and our Premier is saying South Australia, beating his chest, saying we are going to go it alone. How can we go it alone when we can’t even keep the lights on in our state and the energy regulator has to regularly intervene to keep them on and we are in spring? We haven’t even got to the hot weather of summer yet, and our Premier is basically shouting at the moon, angry man lying on his back shouting at clouds, when what he should be doing is working with the Federal Government, which he says by the way is what he wants to do.
HOST: But you need that angry man to get your changes through.
PYNE: Well it’s a national model. I mean if the Premier of South Australia wants to have its own Renewable Energy Target that will simply let other states like Queensland off the hook because it will go into the national grid. I mean, good luck to him, but that means the voters of South Australia continue to have the highest prices in the country …
ALBANESE: But they don’t.
PYNE: … continue to have the most unreliable energy in the country.
HOST: Anthony Albanese, I’ll just turn to you quickly. How can it be the case that the Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s optimistic that this is a policy that will bring down power prices but Labor isn’t?
ALBANESE: How can it be the case that the Chief Scientist is asked to come up with a plan – he did that – it was the Clean Energy Target, then it was thrown out months later?
HOST: That was one of 50 recommendations. Forty-nine were adopted and he’s endorsed the plan.
ALBANESE: It was the key one. It was the key one. Well that’s his job, he’s a Government bureaucrat appointed by the Government.
PYNE: The tide has gone out on you Anthony.
ALBANESE: Appointed by the Government. Mate, if you think you’re going well by promising people that maybe, with no modelling, at best perhaps, with no guarantees they’ll get $100 in 2030, then good luck with that.
PYNE: We have a plan, you want business as usual. And as a South Australian, business as usual is blackouts …
ALBANESE: You had a different plan last week.
PYNE: Blackouts and higher prices and unreliable power.
ALBANESE: That’s just nonsense. See what Christopher says, your listeners should know that Christopher says that South Australia has the highest prices but in Parliament they say Queensland has the highest prices, or they say Victoria has the highest prices and, in fact, New South Wales has the highest prices.
PYNE: Rubbish. Rubbish.
HOST: Chris Pyne, Anthony Albanese, thank you for your time.
PYNE: It’s always a pleasure.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.