Jun 14, 2017











SUBJECTS: Finkel review, Clean Energy Target, Emissions Intensity Scheme, foreign donations

PAT CONROY, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY: What’s clear after the events of last night is that this is a Government in chaos. This is a Government that has lost control of its party room. This is a Government which is squibbing one of the greatest tests it’s facing; which is how to solve the national energy crisis that we’re facing right now. I think it’s important to hear some of the quotes that came out of that party room. First, we had Malcolm Turnbull, earlier saying: ‘I will not lead a party that is not as committed to effective climate action as I am.’

But what did his MPs say in the party room? ‘Malcolm could lose his leadership over this if he doesn’t listen to us,’ and ‘Finkel in its current form is dead.’

10 MPs vehemently opposed the push, 20 expressed serious misgiving and one MP is quoted as saying it’s a ‘slaughter, and a lot of the usual suspects haven’t spoken yet.’  We had another saying ‘the discussion has shades of 2009,’ referencing when Malcolm Turnbull was knocked off last by the Liberal party room. And we even had the Treasurer Scott Morrison saying that this does have leadership implications if it continues.

So what’s very clear is that the Government is too busy fighting itself to solve what is a national crisis. The Finkel report has come down with some very serious recommendations. We’ve offered to engage in it in a very bipartisan manner to get it through to solve this crisis. A crisis that manufacturers are saying is leading to their potential closure. A crisis that has led to a doubling of wholesale energy prices over the last three years, and this is ultimately a test of Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership. Will he decide policy for the Government or will he let Tony Abbott and Craig Kelly dictate to him and therefore prove that he’s just a puppet of the hard right in the Liberal party room.

REPORTER: Do you agree with Anthony Byrne that a full Parliamentary inquiry into foreign donations is needed?

CONROY: Absolutely, and in fact Bill Shorten wrote to Malcolm Turnbull last week calling for a bipartisan inquiry into these matters. We’re ahead of this in terms of action, not only have we written to Turnbull on this, we’ve got private legislation in Parliament proposing the banning of foreign donations. The real question has to be: why hasn’t Malcolm Turnbull taken up our offers?

REPORTER: [indistinct audio] that Labor’s reeling after the resignation of a senior ALP figure here in NSW [sic]?

CONROY: That’s ridiculous. That’s absolutely ridiculous. We’ve proposed real, concrete solutions to what is an area of concern over foreign donations. The real question is why won’t Malcolm Turnbull join with us in banning foreign donations?

REPORTER: I suppose we knew, back on the Finkel review, that Tony Abbott was obviously unhappy with it. Are you surprised that 20 MPs have come out with concerns about it?

CONROY: Well I think the number has shocked quite a number of people within the Government they, I think, were thinking that they’d have a smooth run. Clearly, they haven’t done the ground work and they hadn’t persuaded some of the dinosaurs in their party room that this is the right way forward. Urgent action is needed. Business as usual will lead to higher energy prices and a failure to meet our climate change targets as dictated by the Paris Treaty. So, the Government party room needs to get its act together and Malcolm Turnbull needs to show some leadership.

REPORTER: Jane Prentice has just said that nuclear should be on the table. Should that be an option?

CONROY: No for a couple of reasons. One, it would take 15 years to build up a nuclear industry and secondly, the levelised cost of energy for nuclear is well above the cost of renewables. You can get a new wind farm in this country for about $55 a megawatt hour. Solar PV farms for about $80 a megawatt hour. New coal for $130 a megawatt hour. Nuclear is well north of $150. So it’s a red herring by people who aren’t serious about combating climate change and solving the energy crisis. Leaving aside the environmental implications, if you want to get cheap energy in this country that’s reliable, you need to invest in renewables.

REPORTER: Labor obviously wants action on this, you’ve made it clear before that you’d be willing to work with the Government, if it means you have to slightly change the targets to I suppose, please these more conservative people within the Coalition would Labor be open to that?

CONROY: Well what we’ve signalled is a preparedness to discuss a Clean Energy Target. Our policy, the policy we took to the last election is an Emissions Intensity Scheme that most of industry still considers the best model. A proposal that even Finkel’s economic modelling said is cheaper. But we’re prepared to move, recognising that Mr Turnbull has already lost the debate around an EIS in his party room and we’re prepared to engage on a CET. The beauty of a CET, like an EIS is the target can be ramped up to meet our emissions targets. So our emissions target is minus 45 per cent by 2030 instead of minus 26 per cent. Alan Finkel in his report said you can ramp it up. And that’s why we’re prepared to engage in that we can get the groundwork, the framework agreed and when we win government we ramp it up to reflect what is a true commitment to the Paris Treaty.

Thanks guys.



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