MONDAY, 1 APRIL 2019
SUBJECT/S: LABOR’S CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION PLAN
JOURNALIST: How are you planning to cut emissions by 45 per cent by 2030?
MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY, MEMBER FOR PORT ADELAIDE: We’re laying out a comprehensive plan over the course of today to build on the Energy Plan we put out at the end of last year as well as the hydrogen policy that we announced in January. We’re going to see industrial pollution cut by our 240 biggest polluters by about 45 per cent. We’re going to see Australia get back in the driver’s seat with the change in vehicle technology that’s spreading right through the rest of the world. That will cut pollution on our roads, but also save motorists hundreds and hundreds of dollars at the bowser.
JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to business to see if they can afford these changes and it won’t affect their business plans in terms of workers and so forth?
BUTLER: Well we’ve been engaged over the last 18 or 24 months very closely with every sector of the economy and business, particularly those sectors that are impacted by these policies. We’ve heard their calls that they would prefer a Labor government to work with the existing Safeguard Mechanism, and we’ve accepted those calls. We’ve also heard their calls, for example, to open up access again to international carbon markets, which this government inexplicably cut off when they came to government. We’ve also heard their calls for arrangements for emissions intensive trade exposed entities, which would be based on a comparative impact basis, and we’ve said that we would agree to that. So I think we’ve engaged very closely with business. We’ve also decided to put in place a $300 million strategic industries fund that will help industries like steel, aluminium, cement and many others to chart a low carbon path for the future, which is happening all over the world.
JOURNALIST: Now why unveil all of this today? Is this an attempt to overshadow the Budget?
BUTLER: Well we think this is a good opportunity – we’re here in Canberra, we’re open to having debates about this matter in Parliament. We’ve said before that it’s absolutely important that the Australian people and Australian business are absolutely clear about our plans on climate change before the election is called.
JOURNALIST: You’re not carrying over Kyoto targets; is that right, is that the commitment now?
BUTLER: We’re focused on real cuts in emissions. That is our duty to our children and our grandchildren, consistent with the minimum position necessary to keep global warming below 2 degrees. We’re not interested in dodgy accounting tricks, and fiddling the books as Scott Morrison would have us do, alongside only one country so far, which is Ukraine. We’re taking a position that is consistent with the UK, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden – other countries to which we usually compare ourselves.
JOURNALIST: How will you reduce emissions this significantly without hurting the economy?
BUTLER: Well we’re very confident that with the policies we’ve put out, based on engagement with business over 18 or 24 months that we can do this in a way that not only protects jobs in traditional industries, but also grows jobs in new industries. We know that our Renewable Energy Target, according to independent modelling, will create 70,000 jobs; thousands of jobs in the hydrogen industry based on the policy we announced earlier this year. But there are also jobs in bioenergy that we’re going to seek to tap with this announcement today; in carbon farming. So, this is a policy very much focussed on jobs and our commitment to our children and our grandchildren in line with keeping global warming below 2 degrees.
JOURNALIST: So how will Labor combat, no doubt, what is likely to be a carbon tax campaign by the government and saying that it’s not going to go towards reducing, let’s say, power prices?
BUTLER: Well we know the best way to bring down power prices is investing in renewable energy. Sending out cheques at Budget time is no substitute for good energy policy. The National Energy Guarantee last year, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg told us, would have cut energy bills by about $550. But instead of putting that in place – cuts for every Australian household and business – they decided to cave in to a veto from Tony Abbott and Angus Taylor and others in the hard right which has seen power bills continue to go up. So we do have energy policies in place that will put downward pressure on power prices. Now, I expect that some of the media and the Liberal party will run the same old tired scare campaigns that they ran 10 years ago as an excuse for doing nothing on climate change. We’re focussed, though, on policy that is in the national interest.
JOURNALIST: Doing this today though is designed to overshadow the gravy train Budget isn’t it?
BUTLER: We’re focussed on doing this because we want the election in substantial part, to be about climate change. To be about the fact that we have seen five or six years of vandalism by this government-
JOURNALIST: It’s not about throwing shade?
BUTLER: This is about making sure that as we lead into the election, climate change is a particular focus of the campaign, and recognising that five or six years of vandalism on climate policy cannot continue. It is simply an abrogation of the responsibility we have to our children, our grandchildren, and those beyond.