Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Melbourne - Tony Abbott’s war on the wind industry; Barnaby Joyce and Government division



SUNDAY, 12 JULY 2015



SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s war on the wind industry; Barnaby Joyce and Government division; Tony Abbott’s royal commission.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Today, Labor is very concerned about reports of Tony Abbott's war on wind farms. It beggars belief that when all Australians know the importance of renewable energy - wind farms, solar power - that somehow Tony Abbott is so stuck in the past that he wants to starve funding for new projects. I do not understand why Mr Abbott wants to jeopardise thousands of jobs, billions of dollars of investment.  Why is Mr Abbott so stuck in the past that he's fighting so hard against the jobs and the industries of the future?


It's also further sign of the mounting division within the ranks of Mr Abbott's Government. If it's not this frolic about whether or not Mr Turnbull should appear on the ABC or Mr Joyce even appear with Mr Abbott anywhere, are we going to have a new mine in the agricultural lands of the Liverpool Plains or not? And now we don't know what Mr Hunt's doing, is he coming or going, is he the minister for the environment, or the minister against the environment? Enough is enough. Mr Abbott needs to stop wrecking the jobs of the future. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: The directive to the corporation was [inaudible] crossbench so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise should it?


SHORTEN: What surprises me and I think millions of Australians is what does Mr Abbott have against windmills and windfarms? What surprises me is that you've got the so-called Liberal Party of business basically starving a growth industry of investment. It's no secret in investment circles that banks are tightening up some of their investments in the renewable energy market. It's no secret now more than ever that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which for every dollar that’s invested has returned well north of  $2 back to the bottom line for Australia and also in jobs and investment, that we need the Clean Energy Finance Corporation now more than ever to help invest in renewable energy in particular, but not limited to solar power and wind farms and you've got this Government sabotaging the future of renewable energy in Australia because of some sort of political, extreme ideology against wind farms.

JOURNALIST: The original intention as I understand was that the Corporation was to focus on solar and emerging technologies so what’s wrong with that [inaudible].


SHORTEN: We all know that Mr Abbott doesn't like windfarms, so it is more than just mere coincidence that Mr Abbott complains about windfarms I think on Rottnest Island, that for nearly two years he's dragged out setting a renewable energy target mandate thus jeopardising investment.  And now surprise, surprise Mr Abbott is at it again sabotaging renewable energy investment.


When we talk about mandates and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is to invest in emerging technologies and industries, the guidelines now being proposed by Mr Abbott mean that basically the only thing that Clean Energy Finance Corporation could invest in is flying saucers, because anything which is any closer to development than that Mr Abbott is conveniently saying is established technology. Mr Abbott is jeopardising renewable energy and the jobs and he's jeopardising Australia's place in the world to be one of the leaders as opposed to one of the followers for renewable energy jobs.


JOURNALIST: So [inaudible] to go the polls next will Labor’s policy be to continue the CEFC and also as part of that continue investing in [inaudible]?


SHORTEN: We haven’t finalised our policy but to help flesh out some of what the detail you’re seeking for. First of all it is Labor who helped saved the Renewable Energy Target with our pragmatic willingness to compromise. We will develop in coming weeks and months our propositions for beyond 2020 with renewable energy, but make no mistake Labor’s policy at the next election has a big part of our energy mix of the future will be solar and wind power and we’ll make sure that we create market certainty.  I think this CEFC, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, has returned in spades, it has delivered for the investments of Australians.


JOURNALIST: So just on that then so whether or not the CEFC continues, will that – is that still a discussion to be had within the Labor Party on whether or not you want to see it continue beyond 2020?


SHORTEN: Personally I am supportive of the CEFC continuing, I’m only one person, we’ll work through our policies but I think it has done a very good job. What jeopardises the future of business investment, you know people investing money in the future is when you’ve got extreme governments flip flopping about ideology and you know what governments should do is get out of the way and make sure that we actually have a renewable energy future and not be sending all these mixed messages about the future of renewable energy.


JOURNALIST:  In the interim is there anything that the Labor Party can do to the change this situation?


SHORTEN: Of the guidelines to the CEFC? Well we can indicate publicly that we are very concerned that the Government seems to have a war against windfarms. I think that when governments give mandates to investment organisations it needs to focus on prioritising return and understanding that the more that you create risk, the more that you can undermine the potential certainty of returns. I think the Government, I think that Mr Abbott needs to stop substituting his ideologies – his personal view of looking at the past and instead focus on how Australians will generate sustainable energy in 10, 20 years. For me this a perfect illustration why Mr Abbott is stuck in the past, and why Labor is focused on the future. Renewable energy will increase as part of our total energy that households rely upon, that consumers use, that businesses use. The idea that we would make it harder for us to have a renewable energy future when the rest of the world from China to India to Germany is moving to a great focus on renewable energy, I don’t know why Mr Abbott would put us at a disadvantage to the energy policies that the rest of the world are pursuing as we speak.


JOURNALIST: Back to the issue of Barnaby Joyce – has it got to the stage where you think that Barnaby Joyce needs to give up (inaudible)?


SHORTEN: I think that Mr Joyce is emerging as a man of straw. He says one thing to his electorate and then another thing to Mr Abbott. I think he needs to be consistent. Either as a minister in the Cabinet of Mr Abbott he supports the decisions made by that Cabinet or he doesn’t, but he’s got to stop playing in the traffic. He needs to decide whose side he’s on and then he needs to nail his colours to the mast and if doesn’t agree with his Prime Minister I think it is unsustainable when you have a Minister for Agriculture criticising his Prime Minister’s decision for jeopardising agriculture and still pretending to be the Minister for Agriculture. It’s time for Barnaby Joyce to make a decision.


JOURNALIST: Does Labor have a position on the actual mine in New England and whether it should have been approved?


SHORTEN: Well what we think is that you’ve got to get the balance right in terms of not just short term mining but also the long term agricultural value of the Liverpool Plains. This is really a question for the scientific experts and Labor’s willing to back science, but we are concerned and we understand the concerns of people in the whole Liverpool Plains area about this mine potentially jeopardising its future  as a food bowl.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten on the royal commission into trade unions, are you concerned that you’ll be recalled in the lead up to the next election [inaudible]?


SHORTEN: I am always happy to talk about how we promote the best interest of workers. I’m proud of my record, I answered over 900 questions in Tony Abbott’s royal commission, I’m happy to talk about work place relations. I do say this though, it is $80 million spent to smear his political opponents and I say that if Mr Abbott has the courage of his convictions he shouldn’t be hiding behind a Royal Commission to do his political dirty work. Have a debate with me Mr Abbott, in the Parliament or any Town Hall in Australia about workplace relations.


I’ll back up 25 years of improving people’s job security, of real wage increases – I don’t recall Mr Abbott ever negotiating a wage rise for anyone other than the barristers he’s paying at the royal commission. Let’s have a debate in Parliament Mr Abbott about the future of Australia’s workplaces and the future of Australia’s jobs, let’s not hide behind any other low rent approaches to politics.


JOURNALIST: On that though you have a right of reply to your return to the Commission with you and your lawyers if you so choose, have you made a decision about whether you’ll do that?


SHORTEN: Well I have to  say I did get to answer over 900 questions, I went through a whole range of real wage increases that I negotiated, jobs that were saved, better health and safety. Let’s see if Mr Abbott wants to use the Parliament of Australia to debate the future of workplace relations. Last question thanks.


JOURNALIST: Do you think  Michael Lawler should keep his position at the Fair Work Commission?


SHORTEN: I haven’t formed a final view on that matter. Thanks everyone.