Subjects: Climate change, emissions intensity scheme
WILKINSON: Joining us now to talk the week in politics is Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer, from Melbourne and here in the studio, Shadow Transport and Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese. Good morning to both of you.
ALBANESE: Good morning Lisa and Kelly.
WILKINSON: Kelly, I’ll start with you. Malcolm Turnbull has publicly stated that a carbon pricing scheme would push prices up, but this report by the Australian Electricity Market Commission says that is definitely not the case. Have you got this badly wrong?
O’DWYER: Look, I haven’t seen the report, but I can say to you that the last time that a big economy-wide carbon tax was imposed on the Australian economy it did actually push up electricity prices. It punished pensioners, it punished businesses, it punished families and we got rid of it. We actually don’t want high electricity prices. We don’t want to have high energy costs and we need to have secure and affordable energy and that’s what we’re delivering. And we’re meeting our emissions reductions targets to boot.
WILKINSON: Albo, is that true?
ALBANESE: Well Kelly’s got the talking points but the facts are different. And the facts have been presented to COAG today. This is a report that was commissioned by the national electricity sector and it shows that costs would come down by $15 billion over a decade for households and for businesses.
Malcolm Turnbull has been sitting on this report. You had Josh Frydenberg earlier on in the week say they would consider an emissions intensity scheme, and, what we had then was it ruled out after 48 hours. Even though Malcolm Turnbull knows full well this would be good for the economy, good for households and good for the environment.
WILKINSON: Kelly, has the Prime Minister turned into a climate change sceptic, or is he just keeping Cory Bernadi happy by smacking down Josh Frydenberg?
O’DWYER: Look the Prime Minister has been entirely consistent. He has always said that it’s important for us…
WILKINSON: He used to believe in climate change before he was Leader.
O’DWYER: He absolutely still does.
ALBANESE: And he used to believe in a price on carbon. He said it over and over again.
O’DWYER: Well we’ve got an Emissions Reduction Fund that is actually making sure that we can reduce our carbon emissions without punishing pensioners, without punishing people. I mean you’ve got a plan to actually not only introduce a new carbon tax but to actually make it cost even more.
ALBANESE: See that’s where these talking points are just nonsense. Absolute nonsense.
O’DWYER: Well it’s not talking points, they’re the facts.
ALBANESE: The emissions intensity scheme has been shown that it would drive prices down. Now it’s one thing to be a carbon sceptic, but it’s another thing for a Liberal Party to be market sceptics. And that’s what they’re saying here. That the markets don’t work, that a command style, top down approach…
O’DWYER: But we’ve got a market scheme with the Emissions Reduction Fund.
ALBANESE: You have a top down Stalinist approach of picking winners. What an emissions intensity scheme would do, it’s a closed sector so it just applies within the electricity market and it would drive down prices for households and businesses.
WILKINSON: Fifteen billion dollars is a huge saving Kelly, how can you deny that?
O’DWYER: Well the point I’m making is that anything that is going to increase electricity prices such as a carbon tax, which is what the Labor policy is.
ALBANESE: Well it’s not a carbon tax. It’s an emissions intensity scheme so stop staying nonsense.
O’DWYER: It would be nice to be actually able to finish the question.
ALBANESE: Well stop saying rubbish like using the slogan; you have a serious report here.
O’DWYER: You don’t need to be rude, just because you don’t like what I’m saying.
ALBANESE: Well you don’t need to make things up.
O’DWYER: It happens to be the fact. The fact is you have got an even higher target which means that in order to implement that, that’s what you took to the election; you’ll need to impose an even bigger carbon tax. We’re saying we’re not going to do that.
ALBANESE: No one is talking about a carbon tax except for your rhetoric.
O’DWYER: We’re already reducing our emissions, we’re beating our Kyoto targets, we will beat our Paris targets and we’re doing that through an Emissions Reduction Fund. That is a market based mechanism.
ALBANESE: Except your own advice says that you won’t meet the Paris targets.
O’DWYER: You’ve got your cranky pills today I think Albo, gosh.
WILKINSON: Kelly the problem is this week Australia posted its worst economic performance since the global financial crisis in 2008 and I think what people will see out of this is that there’s $15 billion worth of savings, which this country desperately needs and the Government is rejecting it.
O’DWYER: Well look, the National Accounts were very clear. Now it’s true that they weren’t as good as we would have liked, but what I would say is that the economy is still growing faster than other economies. Advanced economies around the world…
WILKINSON: But we haven’t got the jobs and growth that the Prime Minister promised us.
O’DWYER: Well let me just finish on that. I mean we’re growing faster than Canada, we’re growing faster than the USA, we’re not growing as fast as the UK, but it underscores exactly what we have been saying as a Government all along, which is you cannot be reckless with our economy. We need to ensure that we continue to grow our economy, because that is how we will create jobs. That’s why we’re cutting the company tax rate for small businesses, because small businesses in this country employ more than 4.5 million Australians.
Now that’s been blocked by Labor. That’s why we’ve also got a plan to invest $50 billion in infrastructure because again we need to invest in assets that are going to keep the country moving and that’s why we’ve got a plan to make sure that our economy continues to move forward through investment.
ALBANESE: The economy has shrunk in the last quarter by 0.5 per cent. There’s no global financial crisis, there weren’t cyclones, there’s no reason other than Government incompetence. And when it comes to infrastructure, they actually have cut spending on infrastructure. They said last year they’d spend $8 billion in the last year; they spent five and a half billion dollars, a thirty per cent cut in what they said they would do.
O’DWYER: This is the biggest infrastructure plan…
WILKINSON: Well I think you’ve both had equal time this morning, Kelly and Albo, we’re going to have to leave it there we are out of time. Thank you very much, have a great weekend
O’DWYER: You too.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.