Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Melbourne - Tony Abbott’s attack on renewable energy; Dysfunction and division in the Coalition






SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s attack on renewable energy; Dysfunction and division in the Coalition; Cattle exports to Indonesia; Shenhua coal mine.  


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone. Welcome to, on a rather chilly Melbourne morning, to Lyndhurst and to Vestas. A remarkable international company at the forefront of wind farm technology in the world employing over 220 Australians and generating lots of jobs in agricultural Australia in terms of putting up wind farms and wind turbines. Mr Abbott needs to come out here and see the real jobs being created by renewable energy. Mr Abbott needs to stop his war on wind farms and his assault on solar. What we see is that there are thousands of jobs in renewable energy, real jobs, good jobs. We see there is billions of dollars of investment which has been invested in renewable energy, wind farms and solar power. Mr Abbott needs to stop being a climate sceptic - he now needs to stop being an economic vandal. There are literally thousands of jobs in the balance and billions of dollars of investment. The leaders of Vestas tell me wind farms are being constructed in 74 countries around the world; in Europe, China, India, South America and the United States. Why is Mr Abbott so stuck in the past that he is missing the jobs of the future. He needs to get behind the jobs of the future and needs to ensure renewable energy is part of Australia's sustainable future of energy security.


JOURNALIST: Is a climate reduction target of 15-25 per cent by 2030 reasonable?


SHORTEN: Mr Abbott promised Australians that he would have a climate target by July, he is now so frightened of his party room, he has such little control over the hard-right conservatives that the Prime Minister can no longer keep a promise in terms of renewable energy and energy targets. Labor is currently in the process of forming our policies and we will have more to say climate at our upcoming national conference at the end of July. But there is a disturbing pattern emerging from Mr Abbott. It doesn’t matter if it is a free vote on same-sex marriage, it doesn’t matter if it is about a coal mine in the Liverpool Plains or indeed which Liberal politician can go onto Q and A, or indeed, on renewable energy. Mr Abbott is increasingly hostage to the hard-right of his party and his own extreme views and as a result, the jobs of the future in Australia are being jeopardised, decisions about the future of this country are being held up by his extreme ideology.


JOURNALIST:  So can we expect an announcement on what your target will be later this month?


SHORTEN: We certainly will be fleshing out a lot of our policies on climate later this month and we will have more to say after conference but Labor is the party of taking effective action on climate change and where that starts should be renewable energy. It is Labor who saved the Renewable Energy Target, it was Labor who compromised even though Mr Abbott broke his promise before the last election, none the less, Labor compromised in the interest of keeping jobs and investment in Australia.


JOURNALIST: Just on cattle quotas, do you think they are being used as a weapon by Indonesia to retaliate over boat turn backs or over the furore of the execution of two Australian men?


SHORTEN: First of all let me just state, I'm most concerned for what is happening to our cattle growers in terms of their ability to export into Indonesia. We have seen news very recently of a massive reduction in the number of cattle which the Indonesians wish Australia to import into Indonesia. This is a grave concern. Yet at the same time in recent days, we have seen Mr Abbott and his Agricultural Minister not even enable to stand in the same paddock together to do a press conference. I call upon Mr Abbott and his Agriculture Minister to stop fighting over the Liverpool Plains and the coal mine, disturbing as that issue is, and start concentrating on the livelihood of northern Australian cattle growers. This is a serious development and made worse by the fact we can't get the two most senior Australian politicians, who are responsible for this to even stand up in a press conference together because of their fundamental disagreements on other matters.

JOURNALIST: How important is it for any emissions reduction target to be bipartisan?

SHORTEN: There's no doubt that it's important to have emissions reduction targets being bipartisan, but it is also important therefore that Mr Abbott doesn't force Australia into the path of lowest common denominator. Mr Abbott loves to talk about bipartisanship so long as it's agreeing with him; the issue here is that we need to have renewable energy as part of our energy mix in the future. Australians talk to me about politics and they say they're not interested in that day to day argy bargy, or who said what, but they do want Labor and Liberal to articulate a vision for the future. What will Australia look like in the next 10 and 20 years? I can do that, I've made it clear that the Labor Party I lead fundamentally believes in the importance of renewable energy as part of our energy mix, that's why we're committed to a strong Renewable Energy Target, that's why we're committed to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The sheer absurdity, the economic ignorance or indeed economic extremism of Mr Abbott has been shown for all in terms of his new directions to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. It's a government institution investing money where there's market failure, to make sure that we do have a clean energy future. But Mr Abbott has set the Clean Energy Finance Corporation up to fail, by on one hand demanding that they deliver 3 per cent more in profits but on the other hand saying there can be no change in their risk profile - oh and by the way just to make this job equally, the absurd job even harder, he then goes on to say oh and you can't invest in solar and wind power. Mr Abbott does not support clean energy in this country and he's doing everything he can to hurt the renewable energy future of Australia.

JOURNALIST: Just back on cattle, your Agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon says he thinks Australia's unpopularity in the region makes it more difficult for Indonesia's politicians to resist the pressure to cut exports. Do you agree with him on that?

SHORTEN: Well I sincerely hope that our relationship with Indonesia at a political level is not the reason driving this reduction in Indonesia imports of Australian cattle, but now more than ever it is important that Mr Abbott and Mr Joyce stop holding press conferences in separate paddocks and start working together. This is an important issue, this is an important issue, you have got division at the top levels of the Government. On the one hand Mr Abbott won't meet with Mr Joyce; on the other hand Malcolm Turnbull can't go on Q&A. You've got this division about will Liberal MPs be allowed a free vote when it comes to marriage equality, and now we've got this rampage through business and investment certainty in renewable energy. Mr Abbott needs to focus on the jobs of the future, not arguing amongst each other about today's issues. Last question thank you.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that the Shenhua mine should be built?

SHORTEN: Labor will rely upon the best science evidence. Clearly there's a lot of concern, legitimate concern out there by agricultural land users in the Liverpool Plains. I think the Government needs to, you know, they can't keep passing the buck and blaming the New South Wales Government, the Federal Government should stop blaming New South Wales. You've got Mr Hunt and you've for the Prime Minister saying, Mr Abbott saying this is not prime agricultural land; you've got Mr Joyce saying this is prime agricultural land - they both can't be right. It's time for the Government to stop fighting amongst itself and start focusing on the future jobs of Australians including in agriculture and renewable energy and all the other important jobs of the future which this Government just simply isn't focused on. Thanks everyone.

JOURNALIST: Do you support the proposal or not?

SHORTEN: Well we want to - we want to see the scientific evidence is and we want to see the Government provide the information to us, but one thing is for sure, this Government doesn’t know what to do with the Liverpool Plains and they're busy blaming each other and I just want them to get on and focus on the jobs of the future, not just fighting each other. Thanks everyone, see you later.