SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY TED O’BRIEN – TRANSCRIPT – INTERVIEW WITH KIERAN GILBERT, SKY NEWS

Climate Change & Energy Transcripts Transcripts

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Kieran Gilbert: The Shadow Climate and Energy Minister Ted O’Brien thanks for your time. Can you give us a sense of when the Coalition will have its revised targets. The opposition leader said that he would take a strengthened target to the next election. When will we know what that is?

Ted O’Brien: Look at the last term of Government. Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party took about two and a half years to formulate their policies and then they announced their target last December if I’m not wrong just before Christmas.

And so that would have been five months six months before the election. Our challenge now as the opposition is to do the hard work if it’s to do the entire policy formulation, and so I would expect that we will be coming forward with a fresh set of policies and indeed a new set of targets towards the end of this term.

Of course ahead of the next federal election. Targets for us will be based really on two things one will be political projections are saying at that time, but secondly, and most importantly, the policies we want to take to implement which will work in the next Federal election.

Kieran Gilbert: Could it be greater than 43% for 2030?

Ted O’Brien: Well, I think the first thing of Parliament might be just a little bit too early to start that having any guesses of what that might be ultimately, we’re very evidence base for people..

Kieran Gilbert: It will be beyond 28%?

Ted O’Brien: Indeed, it will be above the 26-28%.  There’s no doubt about that. But we do believe as a party in reducing emissions. Absolutely. We need real action to tackle climate change. There’s no doubt about that.

The question is how. That’s what it’s all about. People can get very worked up talking about the question of why take action or what targets should be.

The real question we ask is how? How do we make sure that we can reduce emissions, while at the same time not hurting people while the same time making sure that Australian businesses are secure?

Kieran Gilbert: Well, this process that you’re undertaking, now and you’ll lead it of course as Climate and Energy spokesperson will it include consideration of nuclear energy?

Ted O’Brien: Yes, indeed it will. Again, if you go back to what we believe, as a party, we believe that all technologies should be on the table. And that includes consideration of new and emerging nuclear technologies.

With that said, no one wants the old stuff. No one wants the old sort of Soviet era reactors when you’re talking about new and emerging technologies, in particular, small modular reactors.

And so that will be part of our consideration. We talked about that very openly in the party room today.

Kieran Gilbert: Do you think it could be economically viable because the argument thus far has been it’s just not, it doesn’t stack up?

Ted O’Brien: I’ve heard the arguments, in fact, I led an entire Parliamentary inquiry into the topic. I don’t believe what labor is saying that the economics do not stack up.

If that were the case, you would not see other countries around the world, embracing nuclear energy.

This is why we need to consider it we need to get to the bottom of that where you can look at the economics within the Australian,

Kieran Gilbert: What countries are embracing it as a new investment, new form of energy?

Ted O’Brien: Well, you have existing nuclear countries that are doubling down on it. We’ve seen that particularly in Europe, as well as the United States as part of the global energy crisis, including Japan and even now, that is going back to nuclear.

We’re also seeing new nuclear countries come on board and probably the UAE is the main one that is investing very heavily in adopting nuclear energy.

Ted O’Brien: A lot of these go through the International Atomic Energy Agency, they’ve got a very clear pathway for countries to look at considering how nuclear energy could be introduced.

So look it’s early days. In this term of government, but as an opposition as a coalition. We are we’re determined to put together a fresh suite of policies and to do so for the next election.

Kieran Gilbert: Senator Bragg, the Liberal Senator told the party read today quoted and Andrew Hirst the Liberal Party Director and research which said that nearly 70% of people surveyed across 20 key seats for the Liberal Party no longer reflected a modern party and climate change was central to that.

And his idea was to win back those city seats you need to have a credible position on this view accept that point?

Kieran Gilbert: It was your party though. It was the coalition that had delayed news of the fact that that there was a power increase coming?

Ted O’Brien: Well, I don’t comment publicly as you can understand on polls. But I absolutely accept that the Australian people do want action on climate change. And so far as I’m concerned the policies that we would put together, we will represent real action. Real action on climate change has to address real action on real people as to the impact on people.

And this is one of the big downfalls faced by the government. They’ve only been in power now for a couple of months already. They are letting go. They are abandoning their commitment to reduce power prices.

And so in the lead up to the election, they had their climate change policy, that climate change policy that they say they now want to legislate that didn’t just have a commitment to lower emissions. It also had the commitment to lower power prices.

And this is a thing if you were to tell the Australian people, we promised to not only reduce emissions, but also reduce power prices. I think it’s very fair for the opposition to hold you to account. To deliver on those commitments.

Ted O’Brien: No. I totally reject that. Let’s not forget that Anthony Albanese came out with his policy. That was in December of last year, in December of last year, as recently as two weeks ago, at the Sydney energy forum. He was still saying that he’s going to lower our prices.

Now that we’re putting on record in the Parliament. He’s saying well, hang on no, no, you should have told us more when you were in government.

Because it was his policy he announced it and he seems to double down on it. He should deliberately be accountable if he’s not.

Ted O’Brien: On the gas shortages, the ACCC report, the Industry Minister accusing industries to get real and that they’re not doing enough in this regard and filling those domestic supply shortages which the ACCC forecast for next year.

Do you believe that the industry that the trigger should be pulled and pulled now immediately to ensure that supply for next year?

Kieran Gilbert: Why wasn’t Chris Bowen, as the energy minister calling the gas CEOs getting them around the table? In week one, when this was happening.

He didn’t. He did not do that were crystal clear with him publicly privately I wrote to him, offering support from the coalition to get the gas CEO’s in a room.

Kieran Gilbert: The resources Minister spoke to them repeatedly.

Ted O’Brien: She spoke to them no action until two months later and the action takers exactly what he suggested they did that was threaten to pull that gas trigger. I mean, you have to you are talking here about the need for more gas in the system.

Kieran Gilbert: Why should a Government have to do that? Why shouldn’t the industry know that’s part of their social license using Australian resources?

Ted O’Brien: I have no problem with the argument about a social license. And the need for gas companies to deliver. Agree with that no problem. Reality is though, we need more gas in the system.

There was one lever that government could pulls a lever that they inherited from the Coalition and that was the gas trigger. Instead of threatening to pull that trigger.

The energy minister of all people basically spoke disparagingly about that. He basically took the tool out of the toolbox threw it away, publicly called it t two blind signaling to the gas suppliers, that this new government isn’t prepared to fight this new Government isn’t prepared to represent the people.

Kieran Gilbert  Should they pull it now?

Ted O’Brien: They should be threatening to do it which thankfully now they are talking like that.

Kieran Gilbert: Ted O’Brien shadow Climate and Energy Minister thanks for your time.

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