April 01, 2019



MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY, MEMBER FOR PORT ADELAIDE: This announcement today builds on our energy plan that we released before Christmas to get to 50% renewable energy by 2030 and to tap into new technology like household batteries. Our hydrogen policy, what it seeks to do is build on the government’s existing safeguards mechanism introduced under Malcolm Turnbull, operating under Scott Morrison, to get real cuts in industrial pollution, so pollution under from our 250 biggest companies. But also today we’re announcing a range of policies to get Australia back with the pack, on changes happening across the world in vehicle technology. We’re currently the lowest nation in the OECD on electric vehicle uptake, and we’re the only OECD nation without mandatory fuel efficiency standards, which means that pollution is skyrocketing on our roads, and people are paying more at the bowser than we have to because we have the most inefficient cars in the OECD.

LAURA JAYES:Why are you announcing this climate policy today? You’re being accused of trying to bury this in the budget, and in terms of budget bottom line, do we know how much this policy is going to cost?  

BUTLER: Well, to the extent there are funding or government policy of funding arrangements in this policy, they’ve all been costed by the parliamentary budget office. For example, we have a $300 million commitment to strategic industries, so steel, aluminium and cement, and other industries like that to help them chart a path to a low carbon future, as is happening all around the world. There are some spending arrangements in place in this policy we’re announcing today, but they’ve all been costed by the parliamentary budget office.

KIERAN GILBERT: In relation to the electric cars that you touched on earlier and your goal for 50% electric cars by 2030, how does that fit in with trends internationally? Last year, Josh Frydenberg wrote that he believes there’ll be a million electric vehicles on our roads by 2030. Is this more ambitious than those numbers?

BUTLER: It is more ambitious than those numbers, but it would simply see us start to catch up with the rest of the world. As I said, we have lower electric vehicles sales that any other country in the OECD. So, most other countries to which we compare ourselves are seeing new sales at a multiple of ten or fifteen times the number than we’re seeing here in Australia. And the disturbing thing for Australia is that the global car industry is shifting to electric vehicles. Almost all of their research and development budget is now going onto new electric vehicles, hydrogen vehicles and battery electric vehicles, rather than petrol and diesel. And if we’re going to keep up with the rest of the world and continue to enjoy a very diverse range of job selections of models available to Australian motorists, then we’re going to have to catch up, and under this government we’ve fallen way behind the pack.

JAYES: You had decided not to use those rollover credits from Kyoto, why have you decided not to use those, and is there an added cost involved? And if I could just go back to this question of overall cost, you say some of these individual measures have been costed by the parliamentary budget office. Do you have a bottom line figure as to what this will cost the economy? I mean, is there modelling you can point to as to the budgetary cost and what it might mean for extra jobs in the renewables space?

BUTLER: Well, all of the measures we’re announcing by way of spending will be released today and they’ve all been costed by the parliamentary budget office. In terms of the impact on the economy, the most substantial modelling was conducted by Tony Abbott himself when he was considering what target to take to the Paris Conference for a 2030 emissions reduction target. His modelling of the 45% target we’ve adopted, recommended by the Climate Change Authority, and Tony Abbott’s target of 26%, sees the economy grow by about 23% in real terms over the course of the 2020. So, no material impact on real GDP growth over the course of that decade whatsoever.

JAYES: Are you relying on five year old modelling then, you haven’t updated that?

BUTLER: Well, there’s been a range of other pieces of modelling that shows for example that our 50% renewable energy policy would see wholesale power prices about 25% cheaper than the government’s, because downwards pressure is always placed by expanding renewable energy. We’re seeing that at the moment, we saw that over the course of the next decade. So, there has been substantial modelling undertaken of the different climate change and energy policies in the marketplace, and every single one of them pretty much has shown that renewable energy expansion puts downward pressure on wholesale power prices, and also creates jobs. Independent modelling of our renewable energy target for example sees 70,000 jobs created over the course of the 2020s, and that’s not to mention the jobs we’ll see in the hydrogen industry, in bio energy and other areas, because of the policies we’re announcing today.

GILBERT: What do you say to criticism that your use of international permits, that that basically is offloading our own responsibility? It’s something that the government hasn’t adopted, the use of international permits. It will reduce the cost on business, but how do you defend the criticism that’s been levelled at such an approach?

BUTLER: Well the only criticism comes from the Liberal Party, the supposed party of free markets. What business can’t understand and what I can’t understand is why business in Australia is able to trade in every other international market, but not in the international carbon market. Obviously we need to make sure those markets are robust and are credible. There needs to be limits on the degree of trading, so we’re not simply off-shoring all of our responsibility to decarbonise the Australian economy. But the Liberal Party has never been able to explain why business in Australia can trade in every international market, but not this one.

GILBERT:Well, the Government says with its use of the Kyoto carryover that its approach will be much more manageable in terms of its impact on the bottom line. Do you feel that this use of the international permits helps counter that to an extent, in terms of making yours a more viable approach?

BUTLER: Well, international permits involve real credible cuts in pollution, that’s what we need. We need real, credible cuts in carbon pollution to ensure that global warming is kept way below two degrees. And we discharge the very solemn responsibility we have to our children and our grandchildren when we use this dodgy accounting trick of Kyoto carryover credits, which is only supported by the Ukraine. Countries that we usually compare ourselves to like the UK, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden and others have all rejected this fiddling of the books because they’re also focused on real cuts in carbon pollution.

JAYES:Mark Butler, as you go into what will soon be an official election campaign. Have you got front of mind how cynical the Australian public has become with energy policy over the last 6-10 years. You promised to have all details on the table before the election, when it comes to your policy. Is that day today when we see all of these details, in terms of what you will ask the agriculture sector to do as well, or do we have to wait until the campaign proper to see that?

BUTLER: No, it will all be out today Laura, for example our arrangements in relation to agriculture are very clear as of today. We are going to make sure that we safeguard the legacy of very substantial reforms around broad scale land-clearing that we saw over the last couple of decades, that have been dismantled by different conservative state governments. And we’re going to work with the meat and livestock association on their existing commitment for that part of the agricultural sector, the cattle industry, which is responsible for the majority of agricultural emissions, to be carbon neutral by 2030. We’re allocating $2 million to work with them on a red meat strategy, on a commitment they’ve already made. So, there will be no imposition of a mechanism, if you like, on the agricultural sector. We want to work with them on the commitments they’ve already made.

GILBERT: Labor’s climate and energy spokesman Mark Butler.