THE TODAY SHOW
THURSDAY, 22 NOVEMBER 2018
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan for more renewable energy and cheaper power; migration; Muslim leaders meeting with Scott Morrison
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Well there’s no doubt that power prices will be a key issue for voters at the next election and Labor has just upped the ante by pledging a $2,000 rebate for Aussies who install solar storage batteries. We're joined now by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Bill, good morning to you.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning Karl.
STEFANOVIC: Can you tell us and more importantly Australians how this is going to work?
SHORTEN: It's about time we had the renewables revolution. We're proposing to make it easier for households to buy solar powered batteries. What that means is if you've got solar panels on the roof, and nearly 2 million households already do, we want to make it easier for you to get the batteries so that you can store that energy and be able to use it at night time. The experts say that if you have batteries and the solar panels you can see savings of between 60 and even up to 90 per cent. These numbers sound unreal, but that's where the future is. So we want to help people be able to get batteries and we want to start the renewables revolution for lower prices.
STEFANOVIC: Okay renewables revolution, so it will start with what, 100,000 homes?
SHORTEN: Yes. There's already 50,000 batteries installed around Australia. We want to see by 2025 a million households have batteries. We're not going to buy the batteries for people. They're going to have to still find the money and borrow the money, but we just want to put a little bit of incentive into the system so we can have a battery manufacturing industry in Australia, so we can give people control over their power prices. We've got to start getting on with climate change action. Power prices are out-of-control, climate change, nothing is getting fixed. This is a sensible way where we help families and help the kids in the future.
STEFANOVIC: How much are the batteries?
SHORTEN: At the moment they can be north of $10,000, so they're certainly not cheap. Over the life of the battery installation people get the value back. So that's why we're giving a modest amount. I think if we just paid for the whole battery it wouldn't be appreciated. This is just a small incentive, but something, it all helps in the final analysis.
STEFANOVIC: This is going to take a while. It's not exactly a renewable revolution if only 100,000 people can do it?
SHORTEN: Well, there's no doubt that it's going to take a while, but we've got to start. I think renewable energy and climate change is something where the Australian people are so far ahead of the politicians it's not funny. What I'm going to do, is I'm going to catch up. If we form a government, because that's got to be the first step of the change, we want to work with families and businesses to get their power prices down, and just talking about climate change and is it real, that doesn't help anyone. Let's get on with it and do it. The people are already voting with their feet.
STEFANOVIC: I just don't know how many people are going to be able to afford the $10,000. How long will it be before the batteries have paid back the initial investment?
SHORTEN: Well, between five to six years, we've seen the recoup in the solar panels. They'll get cheaper, and also what we'll see is people - do you know, in the next two or three weeks, Karl, we're going to pass the 2 million household mark who have got solar on the roofs? So, I've got no doubt this is the future and we're going to start steering the nation to the future and work with Aussie families. I mean, the power prices are out-of-control mate and this government hasn't done a thing really.
STEFANOVIC: What difference will it make in terms of power supply on the grid?
SHORTEN: Well, this is the other good news - what it's going to mean is if you can store the energy during the day - say the family watching the show this morning, the kids go off to school, mum and dad might go to work - what happens is at the moment, if you have just got solar panels, you don't get the energy when you need it which is in the evenings, when the kids turn computers on and you need the energy. The beauty of the batteries is that the energy is going to be there when you need it not just when the sun is shining. I think it's actually a very conservative solution. Renewable energy plus storage equals reliable cheap energy.
STEFANOVIC: Ok, this is 7 years. Have you thought about cheaper ways to reach your energy targets? Will there be a carbon tax under a government you lead?
SHORTEN: No. What we will do though is we're going to pick up what Malcolm Turnbull proposed. He and the Government looked at what is called a National Energy Guarantee. Industry likes it, everyone likes it. Of course, they got rid of poor old Malcolm. But we've decided rather than reinvent the wheel, we'll go with a National Energy Guarantee. I'm giving a talk at lunch time today where I’m going to outline how we do that. The Government's own modelling shows that will decrease energy bills by about $550 so that all makes a difference.
STEFANOVIC: South Australia made a big shift towards renewables and we all know how that ended and how reliable their power was - can you guarantee this power will be just as reliable as to what we have now.
SHORTEN: First of all, just on the South Australian business, that was cyclonic winds blew over power towers. The fact of the matter is that what we're going to do - and then they put in this Tesla battery which did give them reliability. What we want to do is three things: lower the prices, take real action on climate change and ensure reliability. Batteries for households is the missing link. It's reliable because you can store energy built during the day and then you can use it at night-time. It's a good solution.
STEFANOVIC: So power bills will be cheaper, will be less under Labor?
SHORTEN: There's no doubt that if we back renewable energy, renewable energy is cheaper than existing forms of power in the future.
STEFANOVIC: Ok, let's move on. Scott Morrison is on electoral winner it seems regarding shrinking migration levels. What does that number look like to you, do you think?
SHORTEN: Well, there's two ingredients, aren't there? First of all, there's permanent migration. The current Prime Minister says that he will lower the cap from 190,000 to 160,000. Miraculously, that is what permanent migration is - it's 160,000. So, we're not going to have a big argument with them about that.
But the real missing part of the story is there's 1.6 million people temporarily in Australia with visas that give them work rights. You can't just look at permanent migration without discussion about the fact that we're importing a whole lot of temporary labour to do jobs when Australians can do that work.
The other thing is that this whole population debate is borne out of frustration of congestion in our big cities. If you want to fix congestion, don't cut funding to schools so you don't have overcrowded schools, don't cut funding to hospitals so you don't have overcrowded hospitals and invest in public transport.
If you like, the debate Mr Morrison is having is part of picture but it's one of the piece of jigsaw and we've offered to work on the Government on a bipartisan basis and it's all about congestion. Let's get our cities unblocked again.
STEFANOVIC: Finally and really quickly, the Prime Minister is trying to get together with Muslim leaders to try and sort through some of the angst and the division that is out there. Surely, it is upon Muslim leaders to get to the table with the Prime Minister otherwise those divisions will surely get worse?
SHORTEN: Well, I've got a general rule in life that you’re always better talking than having a standoff. It would be better if the leaders turned up. I don't think you solve anything by sitting in different rooms. I also have to say though that most of the Muslim community are very very law-abiding. What we're talking about is Islamist ideology. Let's not tar the whole subpopulation with the actions of the crazy few. But it would be better if people turned up and spoke. I always think that's the best way to do it, that's how you solve the problem - sit around the table.
STEFANOVIC: Bill Shorten, thanks for your time.
SHORTEN: Good on you, Karl. Have a lovely day.