SUBJECTS: Election 2019; Climate change policy; Coalition cuts; latest poll
GEORGIE GARDNER: Joining us after the first week of campaigning is Coalition Senator Simon Birmingham from Adelaide and Labor’s Anthony Albanese from Rockhampton. Anthony I want to go to you first, climate change of course is one of your key policies. We’re talking very big numbers here. Does it pose a risk to the economy your policy? Can the country really afford it?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: The country can’t afford not to act Georgie. And what Warwick McKibbin has said today of course is that the difference is minimal. The fact is that economy will grow by 23 per cent under either Labor’s scenario or under the Coalition’s scenario. And that makes sense Georgie because we all know, and the Government acknowledges, that there is a cost to carbon pollution. It’s a matter of whether you just leave it alone and deal with it later on, let the next generation deal with it, or whether we deal with it ourselves. Common sense tells you that the sooner you clean up pollution, the cheaper it will be, the more efficient it will be, and that’s why we have a 50 per cent renewables target by 2030, we have an emissions target of reduction by 45 per cent, and I’m sure that we will be able to get there.
When we were elected in 2007 there were 8000 houses in Australia with solar panels on their roofs, today there are two million. When we set that 20 per cent by 2020 target, the Coalition then said the world would end. The fact is that people are making savings today as a result of taking that action.
GARDNER: Alright, well Simon, how do you react to that? Because your attack on Labor’s policy does smack of scaremongering.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well no Georgie, it’s about doing what’s proportionate and responsible. Our target for emissions reduction is to achieve a 26 to 28 per cent emissions reduction by 2030. That is well and truly responsible for Australia. It’s one of the largest targets in the world in per capita terms or by GDP standards. Labor though have argued and gone to this Election saying that they want to virtually double that target. And what’s the difference? Well Warwick McKibbin and the economist who Bill Shorten has been citing in the last couple of days has been very clear on the record today saying that the economic cost by 2030 would be $60 billion or more difference between the Coalition’s policy and target and Labor’s policy and target. And that’s $60 billion or more that isn’t available to be invested elsewhere in the economy. And how is that cost materialising? It will materialise in either higher electricity prices for Australian households or businesses or in tens of billions of dollars of international permits that Australian businesses will be forced to purchase offshore and that’s billions of dollars less those businesses have to employ Australians, to give Australians wage rises or to invest indeed in their own businesses, in terms of emissions reduction in the future.
GARDNER: Anthony, this is confusing and convoluted to a lot of voters. How will you meet the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that the Government’s own modelling and Simon Birmingham just months ago was running around saying, like other Coalition ministers and the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, that their NEG, their National Energy Guarantee, would save households $550. They put it through their party room twice, then they walked away from it, because of a minority of climate change sceptics in the Coalition party room.
The fact is that we need to act on climate change. Simon knows full well there is a cost of climate change. We can either pass it on to future generations but the sooner we act, the cheaper it is to act. Every basic law of economics will tell you that and that’s why we have taken this position, just like our position on emissions in terms of cars will save every driver $500 according to the Government’s own modelling. The question the Government’s got to answer is where do their $40 billion of cuts, that they are going to have to make in order to pay for their tax cuts for the big end of town? Which schools, hospitals and infrastructure projects are going to be shelved?
GARDNER: Alright I’m going to move on because I want to talk to you about how you’re tracking in the polls. Simon, the most recent poll shows Labor winning 82 seats to the Coalition’s 63. You’ve got your work cut out for you to turn this around haven’t you?
BIRMINGHAM: This was always going to be a mountain that we have to climb, but what we won’t tolerate in this campaign was the type of lies that Albo was just telling before. The pre-election fiscal outlook, handed down independently by the heads of Treasury and Finance this week made very clear that current policy settings apply the whole way through in that outlook, there are no secret cuts, in fact I can say very clearly there’s continued growth, record levels in schools, in hospitals, in roads, right through into the future.
But importantly what we are also able to do because of our economic growth as a Government is balance the budget, deliver consistent surpluses, deliver tax cuts to hard working Australians. And that’s a stark choice in contrast, compared to Bill Shorten, who has $387 billion worth of additional taxes even though this week he was out there lying about them, avoiding saying that he had any new taxes on superannuation, when in truth he finally backed down and said yes actually there are $34 billion in new taxes on superannuation, that are additional to the new taxes on retirees, additional to the new taxes on housing stock in Australia, additional to the new costs people will face on electricity, on cars and indeed higher taxes for medium wage earners.
GARDNER: Well Anthony, this election is Labor’s to lose. This week as Simon mentioned Bill Shorten has stumbled, he didn’t seem to be across his brief on either climate change or tax on superannuation. How do you think he fared this week?
ALBANESE: He’s fared very well and Labor is out there putting forwarded a positive agenda for the nation and the Government’s reduced to scare campaigns. The fact is that the big difference on tax between us and the Government is that we won’t give people on over $200,000 a year a massive tax cut. We also think that someone who is on $50,000 should be on a different rate than someone who’s on $190,000. For the Government, they see no distinction between the two and want them to be paying the same rate of tax.
The fact is we’ll have bigger surpluses, we’ll have a stronger economy but we’ll also be able to fund education and health because we will close tax loopholes. We make no apologies for that. We’ve said that up front, in advance, unlike this Coalition that of course came to Government in 2013 saying, “no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to the ABC”. And we know what they did, well we know what they would do again, because the pre-election fiscal outlook tells us they would have to make $40 billion of cuts.
GARDNER: Alright gentlemen it’s Good Friday, we are going to call a truce, we’re going to call a truce, we’re going to say happy Easter to each other. You better stock up on Easter eggs, because one week down you’ve got four weeks to go.
ALBANESE: Indeed, I hope everyone has a happy Easter … don’t eat too many eggs out there.
BIRMINGHAM: Happy Easter to you Albo.
ALBANESE: You too Simon.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.