SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY TED O’BRIEN – TRANSCRIPT – INTERVIEW WITH LAURA JAYES, SKY NEWS AM AGENDA

Climate Change & Energy Transcripts Transcripts

Laura Jayes

I want to bring you now the opposition shadow Climate Change and Energy Minister Ted O’Brien, thanks so much for your time Ted, the opposition is really dealing itself out of these negotiations. You’re not even talking to Labor why?

Ted O’Brien

Well, doesn’t say a lot about the priority of the opposition Labor Government. The first bill they want to introduce is not one, to help families and businesses that are struggling with power prices in the midst of an energy crisis, but rather an ideological one done in concert with the Greens. I have to say it is one thing on which the coalition and labor agree in this. And that is that this bill is in fact, not necessary. The prime minister and the minister has made that clear multiple times. They have already declared a 43% target by 2030. The United Nations has been advised that is Australia’s target now. So why legislate? They’ve said it’s not necessary, but they are engaging with the greens in the hope of pushing this through. Look forward to seeing the legislation. We haven’t said it yet. But no doubt we’ll see it today.

Laura Jayes

You’re elected into Parliament, though, Ted to be a legislator, and you’re saying you don’t want to legislate anything to do with an emissions reduction. Why not?

Ted O’Brien

Well, I think we’re all elected to Parliament to get outcomes. And those outcomes should be a reliable, affordable electricity system. One that basically gets emissions down, while keeping prices down. Now, when the coalition was in government, we never had to legislate an emissions target, yet we exceeded those targets, we’re on a trajectory of 35%. By 2030. There’s only been one time in history for where the Australian Parliament has legislated and emissions target. And that was when labour introduced the carbon tax, this will be the second ti me we haven’t needed to do it. when we were in government. Yet. We saw emissions come down over 20%.

Laura Jayes

Isn’t it true, though, that you didn’t need to do it because they weren’t as ambitious and you didn’t want to do it because it would have created a massive division in the coalition you would have had people crossing the floor.

Ted O’Brien

On the contrary, we have never shied away from having tough discussions in the coalition. In fact, it is one of our real strengths. The fact that people do air their view and unlike the last…

Laura Jayes

Have you had these so called tough discussions in your party rooms this week?

Ted O’Brien

We’ll have to wait until the legislation comes up. We have not seen the legislation. But let’s not forget, it was the coalition that took the very big move to sign Australia up for net zero by 2050. And we did that as a united party and we had a plan to deliver on that 2050 target. Labor does not have a plan for 2050. They do not have a plan to reduce power prices. So much as Anthony Albanese talks about delivering on his promise to the Australian people. He had two targets in his climate policy. One was a 43% emission reduction target, and two was a $275 reduction in power bills. Now they’ve been silent on that second target. And this is of a great concern. If you think of all the all the families across Australia who are struggling with power bills, manufacturers, butchers, bakers, hairdressers, you name it, they are struggling with power bills. Now, if I took to the Australian people, a promise as part of their climate policy, to reduce power bills, we expect to see that in the legislation and our job is to hold them to account for just that.

Laura Jayes

Okay. Should there be a debate in party where you say united as one party? That’s just not true. You’ve got some up to four of your members threatening to cross the floor on this.

Ted O’Brien

When we went to the last election, we went certainly as a united party and once this legislation is tabled today that will allow us to have another discussion in the Party room. Our party room discussions are robust and I think Australian people should expect that. That is precisely why we’re here in Parliament. And we should be very proud of that. And you don’t get that from the Labor Party.

Laura Jayes

What’s the point in having a robust discussion? If it’s already a preordained outcome you’re saying that that target 2030 In your coalition’s policies aren’t going to move.

Ted O’Brien

A very good point. Laura thank you for asking me this question. The issue here, therefore, is not the 43 cent per se, because the Australian Government’s already made that decision and told the United Nations the real issue is one does make this legislation deliver on their promise of cheaper power bills? Yes, no. What are the ramifications of that in the legislation two? Should we legislate targets, regardless of what level that target is at? If you look at the countries across the world that have legislated emission reduction targets, it has resulted in adverse unintended consequences… so if you look at the United Kingdom, for example, that hasn’t been decided their targets, you have activism, where radical activists from the left will misuse the law to either stop or to delay projects. We’re talking projects from railways to road upgrades to airports, so basically it’s referred to as warfare where they misuse the law to basically fight and hold back projects. Now there is no…

Laura Jayes

Can you have some of those projects, not gone ahead, because courts have deemed them because the laws have been changed and legislative targets, targets have been legislated, have some of these projects not gone ahead or are you just saying there has been a fight in court?

Ted O’Brien

It’s a mix. But in some ways, it still has the same end result. That is it increases the cost and delays on the delivery. You see, half the time activists will misuse these laws to create a problem to delay projects. Once you do a project projects get more expensive to deliver. Often they’re based of on debt financing. That results in some proponents for your project. It means it’s basically a disincentive to investment. These are the usual problems. You see the UK is an example France and Germany, we’ve had situations where the courts have relied on such laws that we’re likely to see here to tell the government what their targets should be, and how they should act. I mean, this is not, this is not the way the Australian democracy works. By logical extension, you are effectively taking away the franchise of the Australian people who should be the ultimate boss on these things. You can’t shift the power from elected officials to bureaucracy. And then any challenge from that comes through the courts. Where does that leave the power the Australian people to cast its judgment on climate change issues and future elections?

Laura Jayes

Well, you’re to play devil’s advocate, your detractors might say, Well, maybe you would have got more action on climate change in the last decade if that would have been the case, because your detractors say you didn’t do enough.

Ted O’Brien

Well detractors always say such a thing. At the end of the day, or the end, you just have to look at scoreboard and what the scoreboard says is we were world leaders when we left government, at attracting investment for renewables, we had kicked it out of the ballpark with emissions reductions, over 20% reductions on a 2005 level at a time, by the way, that the economy itself grew by 45%. We were able to reduce emissions while reducing power prices around 10% In the last couple of years alone under a Coalition Government, so if you can reduce emissions and reduce power prices, that’s what the scoreboard has to show. Labour’s promised they can do better on both counts, but now they’re only talking about emissions. And it’s radio silence on Power prices.

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