THURSDAY, 8 JUNE 2017
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan for renewable energy; BlueScope Steel’s support of a LES; Adani; national security; Labor’s support for Australia’s bid to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup
NICK CHAMPION MP: Well It's great to be in the northern suburbs today with Bill Shorten. Great to welcome him here. This is obviously the epicentre of some of the challenges South Australia faces in terms of both jobs and energy and just before we met Gavin who was a former worker at Holdens, who is now working here at Tindo Solar and making Australian made solar panels for a great Australian market. So, this is really I think a showcase for Australian industry and a showcase for the sort of economic transition we need to make and It's great to have Bill here today and I'll ask him to say a few words to you.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much Nick and good morning everybody. First of all I want to thank Glenn Morelli and Tindo Solar. Tindo Solar is manufacturing solar panels in Australia for commercial and residential customers. They are employing Australians, Australian technology. This shows when once we get our policies right on climate change we can create a lot of new jobs and getting our policies right on climate change is why I want to talk to people this morning.
Under Mr Turnbull and the Liberals we've just had climate change wars. We've had indecision and confusion about policies which is discouraging long term investment in our energy markets. Our energy markets across the eastern coast of Australia are in disarray.
Wholesale electricity prices have doubled, we've got a gas crisis in terms of availability of local gas. Labor has policies which will see an increase in jobs rather than a loss of jobs, which is happening now. We want to see a decrease in pollution rather than an increase in pollution and we certainly want to make sure that we provide certainty for investment which helps keep downward pressure on electricity prices. So yesterday I wrote to Mr Turnbull, I extended an olive branch because Australians want more from their political leaders than just the ongoing fighting and division over climate change.
We've said to Mr Turnbull that depending on what's in the Finkel report, the Chief Scientist’s report which is due tomorrow, that we are willing to work with the Government to find the best way forward. Now all of the experts say that an Emission Intensity Scheme focused on power generation is the best way forward to keep a downward pressure on prices, to help increase jobs, to improve our energy market and of course, tackle pollution.
What we are willing to say to Mr Turnbull, and my colleague Mark Butler will expand on this in a moment, is we are willing to say, let's not get hung up on the name. If he's forced to come up with a scheme, or if the Finkel Report comes up with a scheme and it's not called an 'Emission Intensity Scheme', even though that's probably the best option. If it's called a 'Low Emissions Target', depending on what is in the Low Emissions Target, we are not going to let the name stop a deal occurring.
What is really important, is that whatever is proposed tomorrow that it sends a price signal on emissions. Unless it has a price signal on emissions then it's a waste of time but if there is a price signal on emissions, which ensures that we get investment going forward into new sustainable forms of energy, which doesn't guarantee just repeated investment in new coal-fired power stations then we think there's a deal there to be done. We will study the detail very carefully. We, unlike the Government haven't seen the report in advance of it. But we are prepared to work with the Government to make sure we put a price signal on emissions and we're prepared to do it because we've got to take real action on climate change.
I'd just say to Mr Turnbull, I think you have been a sell out on climate change, I think that's what most Australians think but you've got a chance to redeem yourself tomorrow and in coming days, stand up to Tony Abbott.
We are prepared to work with Mr Turnbull to put a price signal on emissions, not to try and keep pretending we can keep reinvesting in new coal-fired power stations. We are prepared to work with you in the long term national interest. Got to stand up to Tony Abbott that's all it takes.
Now I'd like to ask my Shadow Minister to talk further about why we need to have a proper policy on climate change rather than the current, inadequate, sell out policies which have seen wholesale electricity prices double.
MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY: Well thanks Bill, thanks Nick and thanks to Glenn and the other staff at Tindo Solar for hosting us here today. Tindo is the only Australian manufacturer of solar panels that we have.
Manufacturing a very high quality product that is particularly suited to the Australian climate with very high temperatures. Just up the road, we have a company, IXL, that has set up a factory to build solar panel frames to support the solar panels, whether they are on the roofs of large commercial premises or the largest PV solar farm in the southern hemisphere that was built in northern New South Wales. These are creating great jobs for Australian manufacturing here in South Australia, and as Nick said, some of them are creating work opportunities for workers who are being displaced in this same part of Adelaide through the shutdown of the car industry that was caused by the Abbott-Turnbull Government.
What we've seen over the last several years is a collapse in renewable energy jobs under Malcolm Turnbull's leadership. The ABS only reported a few weeks ago that we have lost one out of every three renewable energy jobs since this Government came to power. That's almost 6000 jobs that have gone because of the backwards policies and the backward approach to renewable energy under this Government. Around the world at the same time jobs in renewable energy have grown by 45 per cent, so we need some stability back in this area, we need a policy that supports the transition to clean, renewable energy that we are seeing all around the world, and that's why Bill Shorten has extended the hand of bipartisanship to the Prime Minister to sit down and constructively talk through the recommendations that will be released from Doctor Finkel tomorrow.
We know they are not going to be a recommendation around an Emissions Intensity Scheme, which is the model preferred by every single business organisation in the country, and by state governments, Liberal and Labor alike, because Tony Abbott, Cory Bernardi and others vetoed that model being considered by the Coalition Party Room in December.
We cannot have these talks guided by Tony Abbott's veto. You saw him out yesterday afternoon again. You can set your clock by Tony Abbott bringing out the tired old scare campaigns around carbon pricing. If these talks are going to have any hope of restoring some certainty to energy policy in the future, Malcolm Turnbull needs to stare Tony Abbott down and say that he is breaking with those scare campaigns and he is going to take a constructive, positive approach, which is what the business community is crying out for.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the olive branch you speak of, in finding middle ground with the Government, what are you prepared to concede on?
SHORTEN: We've made it clear, the experts tell us an emissions intensity scheme is the gold standard in tackling climate change, the least cost way. But if Mr Turnbull can't get an emissions intensity scheme through his own party, if Professor Finkel proposes a low emissions target, depending on what it actually does, we for one are not going to get hung up on the name.
Now, we are not going to make the perfect the enemy of the good, but what we do say is that a low emissions target, amongst other things, has to at least have a price on emissions.
We are not going to make the perfect the enemy of the good. Whilst we believe an emissions intensity scheme is the exact right way to go, we know Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull are at war with each other. We are offering to work with Malcolm Turnbull, provided that we do see a price on emissions.
If it doesn't have a price on emissions, it's not worth the paper it's written, but the problem is, if it doesn't have a price on emissions, the current mess is going get worse. Ask any employer, any industry.
Wholesale electricity prices are going up. We've got a domestic gas shortage for industry. We've got our pollution numbers, which are getting worse, and we are seeing Aussie jobs being sent overseas. I want Australian jobs in renewable energy here. I want other people to follow Tindo's lead and be able to have more blue-collar manufacturing workers dislocated by the car industry come and work in this new industry.
What the nation needs is investment certainty, by having certainty around energy policy. Everyone knows that the lack of certainty around energy policy is the number one cause of increasing our energy prices, so we say to Malcolm Turnbull, we will work with you, we will stare down Tony Abbott with you. Please don't settle short for the nation's future, the nation's power prices, the nation's jobs, and of course take real action on climate change.
JOUNRALIST: Mr Shorten are you concerned that the more left wing of your party would side with the Greens if, for a stronger EIS rather than the current olive branch that is proposed at the moment?
SHORTEN: No, I am absolutely not. If you want to talk about who's got problems in their political party, look at the Liberal Party. Old mate Tony Abbott has been out there yesterday bellowing his threats to Malcolm Turnbull. Malcolm Turnbull sold out his views, we all know that he is a massive disappointment on climate change. We are giving him a chance to at least redeem some of the intelligent, middle-of-the-road climate change policies which business is crying out for, the experts are crying out for, the nation is crying out for.
It's very straightforward, we are not going to get hung up on the name. Yes, we think an Emissions Intensity Scheme is the gold standard. Let's see what Professor Finkel refers tomorrow, but what we are saying and I think Australians want to hear both Labor and Liberals say this, if there is enough common ground, let's work together. What we want to see is an effective price on emissions. A scheme which simply allows the pull through for new, unrealistic pipedreams about new coal power generation, well that doesn't cut it for Labor.
But we are saying to Malcolm Turnbull, if you need a hand staring Tony Abbott down, we will do it with you.
JOURNALIST: Are you heartened by the fact that the boss of BlueScope Steel seems to be in favour of a low emissions target?
SHORTEN: Yes, Paul O'Malley is right, he is the head of BlueScope Steel. But all Paul O'Malley is saying and it's good to see the leadership from BlueScope, is what everyone in industry is saying, what all of the academic experts are saying, what all of the scientists are saying, and what Labor is saying: we do need to have a price on emissions. There is not going to be new investment in energy until we have that certainty. There will not be new investment unless we have certainty around a price on emissions. New investment means new jobs, it means real action on climate change, and it means downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices.
JOURNALIST: Is this a genuine offer?
SHORTEN: Yes, it is. I've put it in writing to them. Let's be clear, our offer for compromise isn't agreement with the lowest common denominator. There has got to be a price on emissions. But what we also have to do is end the uncertainty. The greatest single driver of rising energy prices is a lack of national policy certainty on future.
How can anyone invest in new energy for Australia, which we need, when the policy is so uncertain? And perpetuating a pipedream, feeding the trolls of the right wing of Australian politics, by simply saying that you can have new coal power stations where ever the eye can see. Well that is just rubbish. It's just a fairy tale. It's time to Malcolm Turnbull to put the trolls back in their box, say to Tony Abbott, no more mate, move on. This debate is over, we are up for it and Australia is up for it.
JOURNALIST: Why is it ok for advanced economies like Germany to open new low-emitting coal fired power stations but not Australia?
SHORTEN: Let's be straight. The world is heading towards greater investment in renewable energy and sustainable forms of energy. All of the experts say that until we have a price on emissions, we are not going to get the investment we need full stop. We are going to back the science. We are not going to back the right-wing knuckle-draggers of the Liberal Party.
JOURNALIST: Is the Adani coalmine a good idea in this context?
SHORTEN: It is a coalmine, not a coal generator. That's up to Queensland. Let me be very clear. If Adani stacks up environmentally, and it stacks up commercially, then the jobs are most welcome in Central Queensland. But what I won't do, and what Labor won't do, if we were in charge right now, is we are not going to use taxpayer money to underwrite this. What other business in Australia gets a billion dollar loan funded by the taxpayer? No, it has to stack up under its own commercial logic.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten if I can change the topic for one second and ask you about Pauline Hanson, she wants those on the terror watch list interned, do you support that?
SHORTEN: She said what?
JOURNALIST: She wants those on a terror watch list interned.
SHORTEN: Interned, like just if they are being watched they all have to go into jail? Listen, I don't know if Pauline is getting that advice from experts. I am going to back the security agencies over Pauline Hanson. Let us be very straightforward. This country and none of its leaders and no-one in it, has any time for violent Islamic extremism, of course not. But I am going to back the security agencies and the police. That's how we fight terrorism. Every headline hunter amongst the Parliament wanting to grab a headline, that's not a security strategy, that's a media strategy.
I want to be very clear here. The Labor Party will take the advice of the security agencies, the police, the Defence Forces. They're experts. I'm not going to just go on some sort of media headline hunt.
JOURNALIST: The Victorian Premier has asked for machine gun armed AFP officers to guard airports? Is it time to roll out that sort of measure across all transport hubs in this country?
SHORTEN: All transport hubs in Australia or do you mean airports?
JOURNALIST: Airports, transport hubs yeah.
SHORTEN: Do you mean bus stations, railway stations?
JOURNALIST: More so airports.
SHORTEN: If Mr Andrews has got the advice that that is an intelligent thing to do, well of course. That's the difference. Dan Andrews is responding to informed security advice. Senator Hanson is responding to a desire to get attention.
What this nation needs is calm heads who are actually keeping Australia safe, not just trying to chase a headline.
JOURNALIST: And you are in Adelaide today, will you be going to the Socceroos match tonight?
SHORTEN: No, I can't attend. I understand the Socceroos are favourites, what is it $1.40, the Saudis are out at $7.50, I think a draw is $4.50. So I hope the Socceroos do well.
But in talking about the Socceroos, I don't think we are going to get a World Cup in terms of men's soccer in the immediate future but there is an opportunity and I want to announce today that Labor supports the Football Federation of Australia's bid to try and win the 2023 women's soccer world finals.
The Matildas are world class. So I'm asking Malcolm Turnbull right now let's get behind the Matildas. Let's support women's sport, women's football, a champion international team, the Matildas. Malcolm and I and the FFA, we should all be of one mind. Let's try and grab the 2023 FIFA World Women's Cup. I reckon that would be a great boost for soccer and women's sport in this country.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, just one more question on the terror question, would you describe the Melbourne and London attacks as Islamic terrorism?
SHORTEN: I’ve described them as Islamic terrorism, yes.
JOURNALIST: And Sydney MP Zed Seselja has used some pretty tough language describing there is that extremist level in Australia it is a minority but it is still a minority we don't want. What's your assessment of his comments?
SHORTEN: Sorry did you say, could you repeat the quote and the MP?
JOURNALIST: It's Zed Seselja in Sydney and he was saying that violent or Islamic terrorism is a minority or Islamic thought in the violent thought in Australia is a minority but it is still a minority we don't want.
SHORTEN: It is a statement of the obvious. I think Zed is a Canberra Senator. But I don't think there is any difference between Members of Parliament and indeed 99 per cent plus of the Australian population. We don't want anyone who is propagating violence extremism, be it using the rationale of Islam or anything else. I want to go back and say this very clearly.
Australians have been shocked by the events in Manchester, we have been shocked by what's happened in London. We deplore the deaths of the young Australian women. And of course, what happened in Brighton in my home town is shocking. But what else is shocking was the death of a 12 year-old Melbourne girl from the northern suburbs of my hometown, in Baghdad. But let's not forget, she was the daughter of refugees, she was a young Muslim girl.
Terrorism doesn't distinguish between faiths. Its victims are people of the Islamic faith, the Christian faith and people, indeed, of no faith at all. We need in this country to stick together. We need to take the advice of our security agencies, we need to back our experts and what we need to do is all Australians need to unite. Now is not the time to divide our communities.
I'm not going to engage in a false debate about who hates violent extremism more. Everyone hates violent extremism. But what the Australian people want from their political leaders is they want us to focus on how we keep people safe and we do that through a whole range of methods. One of the ways is not by vilifying a whole community for the actions of a criminal few. Those criminal few need to feel the full weight of the law but I'm not going to start blaming everyone for the actions of some people and I think everyone, and 99 per cent of Australians, would agree with that.
Thanks, everybody. Lovely to see you today.