Subjects: Safeguard Mechanism


Thank you, Member for Sturt, much appreciated. Bit of bipartisanship in the House, hopefully that that might extend to your support for the safeguard mechanism. Possibly – we’ll see – maybe my oratory might change your mind.

Deputy Speaker, in May last year Australians voted for real action on climate change, and they voted for a government that takes real action on climate change and makes it something that is significant, real, that will make a difference to the next generation; not just empty words. Climate change is an existential issue for Australia and for people across the globe, particularly in the Pacific. And the Albanese Labor Government is taking leadership and making a real commitment on this issue, because this government is acutely aware of the urgency, the need to act.

The IPCC report that we’ve just seen released reaffirms what we’ve all been concerned about all along. It reminds us of our agency, and it also reminds us of the urgency to act; that we should have taken this action decades ago, but this country was dealing with a decade of denial and delay. A decade of dysfunction- and of course, Australians are right to be concerned. People in my electorate of Wills are contacting my office because they are worried.

They’re worried about their kid’s future; they’re worried about the world that their kids and their grandkids will inherit. As am I, Deputy Speaker, as a father of two young children. We’re worried about the prediction that temperatures would likely rise 1.5 degrees in the early part of next decade; that the impacts from climate change are more severe than estimated in previous IPCC assessments; that the climate crisis is quickly altering the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land, and frozen poles, which will mean that Australians will experience extreme weather, including heat waves and catastrophic flooding; that our children and our future generations will continue to suffer if we don’t seize the opportunity.

This week, in this place, to make a real start on climate action, this is what the Australian people voted for last May. Now, Deputy Speaker, the safeguard mechanism provides this country with key building blocks as we work towards net 0 by 2050 at the latest. We’ve always said we can get there faster if we’re permitted to make those investments in renewable energy. It’s a floor, not a ceiling, and the safeguard mechanism helps ensure our largest industrial facilities reduce emissions in line with our national targets. It provides us with a system that encourages it and encourages emissions reduction. That’s about reducing emissions from our top emitters, and that is crucial. It’s crucial to reaching Australia’s updated emissions reduction targets of 43% by 2030 and net 0 by 2050. More than 70% of safeguard facilities and 80% of safeguard emissions are already covered by 2050 net 0 targets which these reforms will help them achieve.

As part of the Powering Australian Plan and funded in the last budget, the Albanese Labor Government is investing in the decarbonization of existing industries and creation of new clean energy industries through the 1.9 billion Powering the Regions fund. At least 600 million of this will assist safeguard facilities in reducing their emissions through energy efficiency upgrades, shift to lower carbon processes, or fuel switching to electrification, hydrogen, and biofuels. Why you would oppose that, I’m not sure. I’ve not heard a cogent or rational argument from those opposite, because these reforms help Australian businesses remain competitive as the world decarbonizes; why would you oppose that? Because they enable industries to be supported during this transition; why would you oppose that? The crediting element enables businesses to be provided with tradable safeguard mechanism credits that will incentivize more efficiency and other businesses with limited abatement options are able to purchase credits to help meet their emissions reductions. Why would you oppose that? Crediting and trading will actually help Australia and our industrial businesses meet our climate targets. Why would you oppose that? It’s a cost-effective way of enabling us to continue to work toward our larger goals, and we’ve got to start.

This Parliament debated targets last year, and we agreed to a 43% target; that’s our starting point. It passed through this Parliament, that’s democracy in action. Unless the Safeguard Mechanism and the safeguard reforms are passed, our projections will be lower than 43%. Why would you oppose that? Is that why? Because you want us to underachieve? You want to block business and industry from reducing their emissions, is that what this is about? Is that what your opposition is about? Because this is real action and real reform, maybe you oppose it because of that, because you did nothing for 9 years; because you went backwards for 9 years. Maybe you want to oppose this bill because of that; maybe you just want to oppose reducing emissions that will alleviate pressure on households and energy bills, that will create renewable energy jobs. That’s a really good start, Deputy Speaker. Make sure that we’re headed in a path and a direction that will help us transition into a renewable energy future. Why would you oppose that? Is it because there’s still elements within the opposition party room that don’t believe in any of the signs, that don’t think we should take any action? That were responsible for torpedoing, for blowing up, for destroying – I’ve forgotten now how many-22, thank you, the Member for Cowan has pointed out correctly – 22 different energy plans completely blown up by the Liberal Party room over a period of a number of years. Maybe you want to oppose us getting on with it because you couldn’t get on with it. For the first time in a decade, this Parliament has an opportunity to put measures in place to reduce emissions from our biggest emitters. Some honorable members may call for higher targets. We’ve heard that from many here or feel that this isn’t enough. To those members and those parties, I say this government will work together with you in good faith towards emission reductions.

We would all agree that it would be great to have 100% renewable energy by tomorrow; but our massive continent demands a network that covers thousands of kilometers and all types of terrain and climates. Our electricity system, our grid, is hopelessly and desperately outdated and cannot yet properly integrate the full capacity of the growing renewable sector. So, let’s unlock the potential. That’s why we have a planned $20 billion dollar investment into our electricity system, our grid, to make it up to date for renewable energy. That’s what that’s about – that’s what it is. We know that the opposition and others might want to make this a political issue. Maybe they’re opposing because they want to play politics again, they want to move out of their party room and the destruction of their 22 energy plans over however many years to blowing up any chance of us moving forward as a nation. But let’s be sensible and rational here, Deputy Speaker. We’ll never make a start if we don’t have people on the other side make the commitment, understand the need for the national interest for their kid’s future, as well. That’s why we need real action on climate change, Deputy Speaker and this government is the only party that is delivering that action on climate change. We need people to get behind this; we need the opposition to understand the importance of the future for Australian business, for industry, and that the transition is going to happen whether they like it or not. We need others who feel that this is not enough to get behind this and not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Always found that if you as a political party or in politics, if you are being attacked from each end of the spectrum, people on one side of you and the other side of you saying it’s either not good enough or we’re never going to support that – if you’re somewhere in the sensible center, Deputy Speaker, you’re doing the right thing most of the time, pretty much all the time. And that’s where we are right now, Deputy Speaker, we are in the sensible center looking towards reducing emissions, transitioning to a renewable energy future, making sure that the transition is feasible for Australian industry and Australian business and yet we have people – members on either side of us who wish to not support this sensible step forward.

We need crossbench support on this; we need everyone’s support, even the opposition support, if they can, few of them might see the light here and put their national interests ahead of their party and political interests. Stranger things have happened, Deputy Speaker. But if the Parliament votes against this policy they will be voting against – those opposite – will be voting against emissions reductions. They’ll be voting against a plan for transition for Australian business and industry. They’ll be voting against a future where we transition to renewable energy and all the benefits that pertain from that for our nation and for our climate. They’ll be against any action on climate change. They’ll be against a safe future for Australians. So, Deputy Speaker, I call on the members in this place to consider the Safeguard Mechanism; to consider this bill on its merits and everything that it does for the future of Australian business and our reduction in emissions going forward and maybe, just maybe, some of them might see the light and understand the importance of this bill for the national interest. I hope they do, Deputy Speaker, and I hope the crossbench do as well. That we get the support necessary to move forward so we can actually start investing in the transmission grid. Getting it ready for the renewable energy future that is inevitable despite those who think it will never come. So, Deputy Speaker, I call on the members opposite to consider this bill in good faith, consider the important elements of this bill for business and for the future of renewable energy in this country, and hopefully some of them might actually vote for it. Thank you.




Subjects: Defence Strategic Review 

DAVID MCCARTHY, PRESENTER: You are on Saturday magazine, Joy 94.1. Listeners may still be appalled, but probably not because of our next guest Peter Khalil, the Member for Wills. Welcome, Peter it’s been a little while since we spoke to you. How are you going?  

PETER KHALIL, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WILLS: G’day, I’m well. Is it too late to say Happy New Year?  

MCCARTHY: No, you just said it, so. Now my co-host Dave Allen, he is champing at the bit. He wants to ask you a question about men and women in uniform.  

DAVE ALLEN, PRESENTER: The Defence Review, Peter. 

KHALIL: The Defence Review, yes.  

ALLEN: Yes. So, obviously this is a large question and for those listeners who didn’t read the brief, there was a landmark defence review handed down this week into what is needed to up Australia’s defence capacity for the long term. Now we’re talking billions of dollars, massive pieces of infrastructure and not just the AUKUS Pact – we’re talking frigates, we’re talking missiles, we’re talking hypersonic capability. Can you speak to that? And can you also talk about the risk of perhaps potentially lapsing into what’s previously been described as irresistible defence technology as opposed to just on the ground defence technology? How do we get through this review without betting the farm?  

KHALIL: Wow, that’s a big question though, but I’ll do my best in 45 seconds. First of all, the Defence Strategic Review, the DSR, which was authored by Angus Houston, former Chief of Defence Force, and Stephen Smith, former Defence Minister and Foreign Minister, was handed to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister just this past week. It is a full review, as you alluded to, of all of Australia’s force structure, its defence capability. And what we need to do to protect our national interests in the coming decades – and there’s been there’s some significant recommendations in it, which go to reshaping our defence forces; you touched on a couple of them – what do we need to protect our interests, the maritime approaches, the sea lanes, all the things that are important to Australia’s national interest and prosperity as far as trade goes and all the rest of it. To answer your question very quickly, defence capability equals deterrence. So, the whole purpose of this is having the kind of capability that will deter adversaries, whether they be state actors or non-state actors, from using force or attacking our interests and pushing them to other channels like diplomacy, for instance. And the more deterrent capability you have, the less likely you’re gonna have conflicts. So, the billions of dollars that you speak to are actually an investment to avoid spending a lot more if we ever get into a conflict situation which would damage our economy and damage the global economy and so on, so that’s the principal thinking behind the Defence Strategic Review and what it means. And lastly, I should just say that technology that you’re talking about, the advanced capability, is really important, because a lot of what happens now is in the so-called grey zones. Cyber security, cyber-attacks, interference in our critical infrastructure and our systems, so having those counter-capabilities, cyber defence and cyber security capabilities are very important in protecting our interests.  

ALLEN: Now talking of cyber security, our former Prime Minister yesterday said that a war with China in the future would be fought with bytes and bits. And obviously there is a lot happening in the Department of Communications at the moment around privacy and so forth. What percentage do you think of our defensive capability in the future is going to need to be against cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure? 

KHALIL: A lot of the spending already, our investment, has shifted to cybersecurity and there’s been, there was a big investment in the Australian Signals Directorate that does a lot of this cyber protection across critical infrastructure, across our systems, systems of importance, and I talk about our energy systems our academia, our boardrooms – all of the different systems that make everything work every day. So, a lot has already shifted in that direction and ASD is already within Defence, so that’s kind of part of the Defence budget. Those big toys, those big hardware pieces, there’s a big rethink about what it is that we need. Do you need a much more asymmetric-type capability, smaller drones and other types of capability, that can actually do what is necessary rather than the big hardware? 

ALLEN: We do keep hearing in Ukraine drones being used, and I gather China attacked a Philippine vessel with a laser this week. So, we’re hearing a lot about high technology.  

KHALIL: It’s advanced capability. You touched on hypersonic missiles and counter hypersonic research, there’s drones, there’s undersea water capability drones. Even those drones that you refer to, there’s an Australian company here in Melbourne that is manufacturing drones, they cost about $10,000. They’re very small, but they’re used very effectively by the Ukrainian Defence forces for what’s called intelligence and surveillance and reconnaissance gathering. So they’re very effective, and because they’re manufactured here in Melbourne, people don’t really realise the capability that we have, the technology and the kind of potential that Australia has to work in this space. But that’s happening. It’s gonna be happening because there’s gonna be a real shift in the paradigm, out of this Defence Strategic Review when the government makes big decisions this year.  

MCCARTHY: You serve on a number of committees, and I think for listeners to understand that: parliamentary committees, whether it’s House of Reps. or Senate, they discuss and investigate issues and make reports, which ultimately does feed into policy. Can you tell us what are the committees you actually serve on? And I think you might chair some of them, Peter.  

KHALIL: Yes, Macca, the PM asked me to chair the Intelligence and Security Committee, which is the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security for the Parliament. That is a pretty intense committee. Its responsibility is to review any national security laws, all national security bills; we have oversight over all the intelligence and security agencies, their administration, their expenditure, their effectiveness and we do reviews and inquiries based on referrals from the PM or other cabinet ministers. For example, we’re doing an inquiry on radical right-wing extremism and other forms of radical extremism, so it’s an important committee. It also has a bipartisan tradition, and I hope that can continue, although that you know sometimes is not possible. There’s a tradition to try and really reach consensus for the national interest and put aside the partisan games that go on in politics. And I should say, and I’m also on the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Defence Committee. Committee work is interesting because it’s not sexy enough to get on the nightly news, but it allows members of Parliament from across the aisles to work together on policy issues and make recommendations for the government of the day on those policy areas. But because it’s not the same shouting and carry on that you see in Question Time it’s probably not newsworthy. I think people like to see a bit of conflict and a bit of biffo, maybe, but it would be pretty boring doing a one-minute piece on some members of Parliament agreeing with each other on the importance of this policy or that policy.  

ALLEN: Talking about security laws, I’m a journalist, outside of Joy, I’m a news journalist. We, Australia passed more national security laws in the wake of the 9/11 attacks than the UK and the US combined. Now I know as a journalist, that thicket of laws obviously has had a great impact on us, it has improved national security, but at the same time it has lengthened the time taken to do effective national security reporting and made it a legal nightmare and extremely expensive. Now obviously these are necessary laws, but is something being done to streamline that thicket so journalism can proceed effectively as part of democracy? 

KHALIL: No, you’re right, Dave. And I, and this is my view. I also know our new government is looking at this where the Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus is looking at a review of all the Privacy Act and the privacy laws. 

ALLEN: Big fan of Mark Dreyfus here.  

KHALIL: Yeah, no, I’ve got to call him KC now. Mark’s great. But you’ve really hit the nail on the head: the responsibility of government is always to get the balance right between individual liberties versus the collective or public security. And if it goes tilts too much in one direction, you remove those individual liberties. I think with respect to journalists, we are looking at the laws around what’s in the public interest. You mentioned the kind of bureaucratic nightmare that you’ve got to go through as a journalist. All these laws are being reviewed. There’s a review of the Privacy Act, there’s a review of our counterterrorism framework, elements of that of course go to what’s in the public interest, and journalism, and protection of journalists. And I was very critical of the previous Government going too far in actually diminishing what is a very important part of our democracy, and that is the right of journalists to report on these issues in the public interest. Of course, there are sometimes, as you would know, areas where you can’t go because it’s about protecting people’s lives, but I think the government tilted way too much towards diminishing the right of journalists to report on what is in the public interest, and we’re trying to redress that through these reviews.  

MCCARTHY: Unfortunately, Peter, we’re out of time. But thank you for that, and we’ve got a whole lot of different segments rostered for you in the future and we look forward – some of them are a bit longer, so I do appreciate you giving the time and explaining the role of those committees. I think a lot of listeners are not sure. Because it’s not that sexy, some of it, and people like me sometimes like watching it, but you know. I think there’s three other people in Australia who watch it as well.  

KHALIL: There’s so much on Netflix, Macca and you’re watching committees. I don’t know what’s going on there.  

MCCARTHY: Look, I really briefly did watch Phillip Lowe in the committee hearings that he was in. And you know, he clearly was under pressure, but his most recent appearance, it was clear to me he had the shits with you all.  

KHALIL: You like a good interrogation, that’s what you like.  

MCCARTHY: Well, he’s the Chair of the Board but the Board is 9, three of which are ex officio, so there’s another six, and decisions have to be a majority. So, you know if we’re going to have a crack at him – believe me, I’m not about defending Phillip Lowe – but how about people should actually have a look at who else is on the board and the decisions that are made rather than just targeting him, I think it’s a bit unfair. But his body language is interesting. He doesn’t like you lot.  

KHALIL: I’m not on that committee, but I’ll pass it on to my colleagues.  

MCCARTHY: Anyway, that’s my 13 cents worth. There you go. Thank you.  

MCCARTHY, ALLEN: Thanks Peter, appreciate it.  






SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, MILTON DICKS: Order. I give the call to the Member for Wills. 

PETER KHALIL, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WILLS: Thank you, Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy: how will the National Reconstruction Fund help Australia’s status as a renewable energy superpower? And how has it been received? How does this build on existing programs to support investment in renewable and clean energy? 

DICKS: I give the call to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. 

CHRIS BOWEN, MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY: Thanks, Mr. Speaker. I thank my honourable friend for his question. He knows that there is no bigger, important city to Australia’s manufacturing future than Melbourne and the suburbs of Melbourne, and he also knows that the National Reconstruction Fund will be key to ensuring that the world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity. And that’s perhaps why the creation of the National Reconstruction Fund has been supported by the Energy Efficiency Council, the Smart Energy Council, the Electric Vehicle Council and Origin Energy, who’ve all explicitly supported the policy. The honourable Member also asked me how the National Reconstruction Fund will build on other agencies and policies, and there is no more important example than the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Mr. Speaker, which has been so important in Australia’s development of renewable energy industries and is now the world’s largest green bank. The world’s most successful, the largest green bank, and that’s very important. It’s also important because as the Minister for Industry has pointed out, he has based the design of the National Reconstruction Fund on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which is very important. And it’s also relevant because the same arguments that are being used by the only group to oppose the National Reconstruction Fund, which is the Liberal and National Party, were the arguments they used to oppose The Clean Energy Finance Corporation 10 years ago. Exactly the same records, I repeat, Mr. Speaker, if you look, if you look at what they said at the time, the member for Bradfield said ten years ago, Mr. Speaker, he said in his house- 

DICKS: Order the minister to resume his seat. You know what the manager’s going to say and I’ll hear from him right now. 

PAUL FLETCHER, MEMBER FOR BRADFIELD: Mr. Speaker, it is on relevance. I will concede it was a tightly drafted question. How is this program helping Australia’s status as a renewable energy superpower? How has it been received? How has it built on existing achievement? Absolutely nothing about: would the Minister please give his usual incoherent spray against the track record of the previous government? 

DICKS: Resume your seats. Resume your seat. The question also says how does this build on existing programs so the Minister can be relevant to report refer to the former government, but ask him not to make that the central part of his answer and I give him the call. 

BOWEN: Just trying to quote a bloke, Mr. Speaker. The Member for Bradfield said about the CSC. “It is extraordinarily difficult to understand how anyone could imagine that this is going to be anything other than a spectacular financial disaster”. That’s what he said ten years ago; he’s nodding. He’s nodding. And they say the same thing today. So devoid of imagination, are they? They say the same thing today about the National Reconstruction Fund. Now the CFC has invested $11.7 billion in projects worth $42 billion. Every dollar the CFC has invested has leveraged 2.6 dollars of private sector investment. It’s created thousands of jobs, 5.2 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity, and reduced emissions by 240 million tons. But apart from that, it’s been an utter disaster, Mr. Speaker, a complete disaster. The member for Bradfield had a point. This is what you get when you have an opposition so devoid of their own ideas, so devoid of a constructive approach, so devoid of acting in the national interest, that they just opposed, Mr. Speaker. They opposed it 10 years ago, they tried for years to abolish it. They tried for years and years to abolish it and they failed, and now they’re trying to stop the next phase of the National Reconstruction Fund. This is what you get, Mr. Speaker, when you have a leader of the opposition who’s all opposition and no leader. 

DICKS: Order, give the call to the leader of the Nationals. 

Federation Chamber 7/09/2022

Mr KHALIL (Wills) (18:04): Real action on climate change—that’s what the Albanese Labor government’s all about. It is committed to delivering this by reducing taxes on electric vehicles. The Treasury Laws Amendment (Electric Car Discount) Bill 2022 is the first step in achieving this, by providing a fringe benefits tax exemption for eligible employer provided electric vehicles. Put simply, what this means is that, when an employer allows an electric vehicle to be used privately by an employee, it will no longer attract a fringe benefits tax. This will incentivise greater uptake of electric vehicles, which are rapidly becoming a more efficient and cheaper form of transport; it will reduce transport emissions, contributing to the government’s plan to reach net zero by 2050; and it will make electric cars more affordable for families and businesses across Australia who are currently locked out of the market due to very high costs.

This is really important as a reform for people and businesses across my electorate of Wills in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. My community, like many across Australia, are acutely aware of the existential threat posed by climate change. Every day, in many ways, they make decisions to reduce their own carbon footprint, whether that be through where they shop or source materials, how they power their homes or shops, or just how they travel from A to B. This tax exemption for electric vehicles will provide more sustainable options for so many more Australians, because as a government we know that Australians not only deserve choice but want it. They need it.

We’ve heard a whole lot of nonsense from the opposition, who seem to be living in the past—years in the past. Let me just run through a few examples. Scott Morrison, when he was Prime Minister, said electric vehicles would end the weekend. Remember that? They would end the weekend; it would be gone. He then pretended at the last election that he had said nothing like that, so suddenly he forgot that he had actually said that. He must have forgotten that video clips existed even in 2019 and that you will be recorded when you say something. He said:

It’s not going to tow your trailer. It’s not going to tow your boat. It’s not going to get you out to your favourite camping spot …

Just two weeks ago, the new Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in a sign that things really haven’t changed that much with the Liberal Party, said that no-one in the world is making an electric ute—no company. Well, it took fact checkers all of five seconds to determine that was wrong. She must have forgotten that Google exists in 2022. For the benefit of the deputy opposition leader, there are not just one, two or three but at least five electric utes being manufactured and sold overseas. That’s a fact. Then, when she was faced with this unavoidable fact, she said:

… even if they were it would be unaffordable.

Well, let’s be glad that the other side are no longer in power with that kind of misinformation and positioning.

Rather than just spreading misinformation and complaining, we are really taking action on climate change. This is what this government is about. With this bill, we will make it more affordable for Australian employers and workers to drive an electric vehicle if they choose to. In fact, a number of experts have said that people using electric utes for work gain added benefits. For example, the electric utes can be used as generators on worksites, charging up electrical tools. So, if you’re on the job, your electric ute actually helps you do your job. You can also use an electric vehicle to charge a laptop, so it’s not just the tools. If you want to put in an invoice, you can do that as well. There you go—just another example of why businesses might utilise them in high numbers if they were made affordable.

My question to the opposition is: why not give businesses and Australians the choice when it comes to choosing the vehicle they drive? For the so-called party of personal choice and responsibility, the Liberal Party are sure committed to making it harder for Australians to make their own choice when it comes to the car they drive.

The Albanese government, however, is committed to giving Australians greater choice by bringing down the costs of electric vehicle ownership. This exemption will apply to electric vehicles below the luxury car threshold—including battery, hydrogen fuel cell and plug-in hybrid electric cars—that are made available for use after 1 July 2022. In addition to this, the Albanese Labor government will remove import duties on electric and low-emission cars. These fees have been a significant—in fact, tremendous—barrier to the uptake of electric vehicles in Australia. This barrier has meant that just 1.5 per cent of cars sold here are electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, compared to 17 per cent in the United Kingdom and—wait for it—85 per cent in Norway.

This not only represents a loss of opportunity in emissions reductions and lowering household costs around fuel; it also represents a lost opportunity in rebuilding Australia’s automotive and manufacturing industries. That is an issue that is so important in my electorate of Wills, in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, where thousands of workers and their families were left out of a job, out of job security, out of a living, with the closure of the Broadmeadows Ford factory and associated factories that fed into the automotive industry, including small and medium-sized engineering firms—innovative firms that made little parts of the cars that were being made in Australia. Some of you over there—some of the new MPs—might not remember this, but there was a Liberal Treasurer who dared the car companies to leave Australia. In fact, they basically shoved them out the door by removing support for the industry, yet the Liberal Party—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr KHALIL: That is a fact. That happened. I will take the interjection. The Treasurer at the time, Joe Hockey, dared them and pushed them out of the country and removed that support. Yet the Liberal Party continue to be the biggest opponents of Australian manufacturing. It is remarkable.

Unlike that lot, the Albanese government is getting to work and is committed to bring manufacturing back home by reducing taxes on electric vehicles. We will make them more affordable, encouraging their uptake and incentivising businesses to build them here in Australia. We will also establish a new Driving the Nation Fund, invest in highways and build a national electrical vehicle network. This will include a $39.9 million investment to delivering 117 fast charging stations on highways across Australia and up to 16 hydrogen refuelling stations on very busy freight routes between the capital cities, matching investments already made in states like Victoria.

All Australians are feeling the pressure at the petrol pump, particularly over the last few months with what we have seen happening overseas with the war in Ukraine and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. We cannot afford, as a government and as a nation, to be short-sighted in our policy responses to the rising costs of living. That short-sightedness by the previous government is how we have ended up in this situation, after nine long, tortuous years of a Liberal government that had no vision, no plan, no foresight and nothing on offer. They kicked everything into the long grass. That was their tactic: ‘I see nothing; I know nothing; I’m just going to kick it off into the long grass and hope somebody else takes care of it later.’ That is how we have ended up in this situation.

The Albanese Labor government will take the ambitious action needed to provide cleaner and more affordable options as our technology options improve. We will not allow Australia to be left behind as the rest of the world realises and takes advantage of the opportunities of investing in renewable energies. The opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, to unleash billions in investment, to reduce those cost-of-living pressures and to reduce household costs is before us now, and we are taking action to make it a reality. We will make electric vehicles more affordable, we will take real action on climate change and we will bring Australian manufacturing back home.

House of Representatives 5/09/2022

Mr KHALIL (Wills) (11:46): I recall that in this place in March I reflected on the then government’s Pacific step-up, and I actually termed it ‘the Pacific stuff-up’. It was really a failure of the former government in positioning Australia as the partner of choice for our Pacific neighbours. The sheer incompetence, at every post, at every milestone, at every turn, when it came to managing our international relationships, was stark.

Well, that period of ineptitude is over. Already, Prime Minister Albanese and Foreign Minister Wong have engaged significantly with our neighbours in the Pacific in the last few months. In doing so, they have re-established the foundation for engaging with our partners on substantive issues of mutual importance—issues like climate change, which represents an existential threat particularly to the Pacific, with the impacts likely to be more immediate and particularly severe in our region. Prime Minister Albanese joined Pacific leaders in July to declare that the Pacific is indeed facing a climate emergency that threatens the livelihood, security and wellbeing of its people and ecosystems.

That is why one of the first pieces of legislation introduced by the Albanese government was to legislate ambitious emission-reduction targets to achieve net zero by 2050 and limit the global temperature increases that are threatening the existence of our Pacific neighbours, including shifting our national energy market to be made up of 82 per cent renewables by 2030, so rejoining our key partners—not just those in the region, but Canada, South Korea and Japan—in our ambition towards 2030.

We have also committed to increasing official development assistance to the Pacific by $525 million over the next four years. This will include assistance for climate change adaptation and resilience programs. These programs will be developed, designed and implemented in consultation and partnership with our Pacific partners, because they don’t need us to tell them how to do it; already they are at the forefront, globally, on adapting to the impacts of climate change and are indeed world-leading in their calls for greater commitments to address the climate crisis. These programs will form part of a Pacific climate infrastructure financing partnership, supporting the building of the infrastructure and clean energy sources that will make Pacific communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change. This is what true commitment to our Pacific partners is all about.

The previous government’s engagement was marked by paternalism, disrespect and, frankly, condescension. For our government, it is about engaging with our Pacific neighbours as co-equals, as sovereign states, treating them with the respect that they deserve and ensuring that Australia remains their partner of choice for the region. The Albanese government continues to demonstrate Australia’s commitment to this, across areas of shared priority with our partners, whether it be through the $5.6 million e-commerce fund that has helped over 850 small businesses across our region to participate in digital trade or our commitment of an extra $12 million a year for aerial surveillance to help combat the illegal fishing that threatens the region’s fishing industry and costs Pacific island governments more than US$150 million in lost revenue. We will also deliver an Indo-Pacific broadcasting strategy that will provide funding for the ABC to boost Australian content to the Indo-Pacific region, expand regional transmission and train media partners. We will make improvements to our Pacific mobility scheme, such as allowing primary visa holders to bring their partners and children. We’ll also boost permanent migration from Pacific countries.

Up to 3,000 Pacific engagement visas would allow people from Pacific Island nations to move to Australia. All of this is real. All of it is substantive. All of it matters to our Pacific neighbours in ways that will make a real difference to their lives, to their nations. That’s why this is real engagement. We understand the value of people-to-people exchange. We understand the value of cultural links not only for our mutual benefit but for the benefit of the entire region and for regional unity. Generations of migrants have shaped the modern Australian story, and our Pacific friends should continue to play an even larger part in that. We will welcome people from the Pacific Islands with open arms and give true meaning to that term ‘Pacific family’, and we will continue to deepen our ties and ensure Australia remains the partner of choice in the region.

House of Representatives 3/08/2022

Mr KHALIL (Wills) (17:12): When I asked the people of Wills to give me the privilege of being re-elected as part of an Albanese Labor government, I made it clear that I was committed to taking real action in government and getting things done. That’s what we would do if we won government: real action on the cost of living, real action on secure local jobs and, of course, real action on tackling climate change. I campaigned on the fact that an Albanese Labor government was committed to taking that real action by implementing our policies and legislation to lower our emissions, create thousands of clean energy jobs and decrease household bills with massive investments in renewable technology to make us a renewable energy superpower.

During this first sitting of the 47th Parliament, we are making our commitment to real action clear and manifest with the introduction of the first genuine climate action legislation after more than a decade of inaction. The Minister for Climate Change and Energy nailed it in question time when he said, ‘A decade of inaction is over.’ There are a lot of platitudes in politics, and the conversation about climate action is not immune to that—that’s for sure. Those on the other side like to promote a false, rather damaging dichotomy that it’s either the environment or the economy, as if you’ve got to choose. There are also those from the minor parties and those on the fringes who think we can wave a magic wand to deal with climate change, without a genuine plan for workers and the communities that they support around Australia. The country has been crying out for sensible and real action in this space for a decade. We are delivering it.

I’m very proud of the Climate Change Bill 2022 because it’s the first real climate change bill in a decade. We’ve had nine years—almost 10 years—of wasted opportunities and those opposite dithering and in denial, delivering 22 so-called energy policies, all of which were abandoned when they started fighting each other in their own party room and could never agree on one of them. It was a disaster, and the Australian people had enough of it. They had enough of the dithering, enough of the denial. They just had enough of it. They wanted things to get done.

Australians trust that we will get this right because Labor has a strong track record of environmental policy, and we have the commitments to prove it. Let’s not forget that it was the Whitlam government that was able to prevent Joh Bjelke-Petersen from drilling in the Great Barrier Reef. It was the Hawke government that was able to save the Franklin River, Kakadu National Park and the Daintree Rainforest. It was the Keating government that worked to protect our oceans. But we don’t need to look at the past anymore, because it will be this Albanese Labor government that will be remembered for taking real action on climate change and protecting our environment for future generations.

Our commitment is backed up by a fully modelled and costed plan, Powering Australia. It’s a plan to reduce emissions by at least 43 per cent by 2030, joining our international partners like Japan, South Korea and Canada in that ambition. It’s a plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, bringing us into line with countries like France, Denmark and Spain, which have similarly legislated targets. It’s a plan that reflects Australia’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and the efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees on pre-industrial levels. Rejoining our international partners in this effort is not just important in doing our fair share to reduce emissions; it is critical to our long-term bilateral relationships, our engagement with our partners across the globe.

Already, under the leadership of Prime Minister Albanese, this government has made significant strides in repairing relationships that were damaged by Australia’s lack of leadership in the previous government. No longer are we the subject of ire from our international partners, who expect us to do our fair share. This is a principle, the fair share, which is somewhat similar to the fair go. It’s a principle that Australians easily understand. Do your bit. Put your fair share in. Make the effort. We’re no longer speaking to empty rooms at international conferences; we’re actually bidding to host them. We’re no longer leaving our Pacific neighbours, our friends and partners in the Pacific, on their own as they experience the devastating impacts of climate change, the existential threat they face. We’re with them now.

We will not be limited in our ambition. As the Prime Minister has said, our target is a floor, not a ceiling. We will become a renewable energy superpower with the investment that will be unleashed by our policies and our legislation. We will be accountable, unlike the previous government, when it comes to this action. This will take the form of an annual climate change statement to parliament, ensuring accountability on meeting our targets, including progress made in achieving those, international developments relevant to addressing climate change and the effectiveness of the government’s policies in meeting the set targets. This statement will be informed by the independent Climate Change Authority, which will also be tasked with providing ongoing advice on adjusting future targets.

We have a plan to create hundreds of thousands of secure, well-paid jobs. This is important because it’s not just about words or a so-called just transition with nothing really to back it up. Our plan is to lower power bills for ordinary Australians, to help more Australians join the solar revolution by installing 400 solar community batteries around the country, and to connect 100,000 Australian householders who may not be able to install solar, like apartment owners and renters, so they can draw from excess electricity stored in batteries. This will allow more Australians to take full advantage of cheap solar energy.

I know the people of Wills, my electorate—and it’s interesting that most of my colleagues on this side hear the same thing when they talk to their constituents—tell me they feel a real sense of relief that they finally have a government that is actually doing something in the national interest. It’s as if a weight has been lifted off their shoulders. That’s a widespread view. It’s nationwide. We have a federal government that actually cares about this country’s future and future generations and is committed to taking real action here in this place and in our governance. It has brought together all sectors of civil society: the unions, the business sector and environmental groups. All of them joined our minister when he formally signed our new targets in June this year. So I congratulate the Minister for Climate Change and Energy for his efforts to develop legislation that recognises the significance of this challenge while bringing the different elements of Australian society together, including here in this parliament. I thank the members of the crossbench, who have sought to negotiate in good faith, and I call on those yet to declare their support to consider the bigger picture.

I also call on members of the opposition—the handful that are here—who are still opposing this legislation to reconsider, because we have a unique opportunity to end a decade of fighting, denial and delay. We have a unique opportunity to chart a new path forward. We have a unique opportunity to do something inherently good—something significant—for the people we represent and for future generations.

On election day, Australians voted to end the climate wars; they had had enough. Our Prime Minister spoke eloquently of the possibility of a better future and the potential of a better future, and now this parliament can do the same. We can vote to end the decade of delay and denial. We can vote to mark the end of our climate delinquency. We can vote for our children and our grandchildren to have that better future. We can vote for real action.




Subjects: Election campaign, cost of living, RBA interest rate rise by 65 basis points, Labor election commitments, Russian war in Ukraine

STEVE PRICE, HOST: Peter Kahlil is the Labor member for Wills in Victoria. You’re out on the road, you’ve got to get yourself re-elected, you want Labor to be in government, what are you hearing, obviously pre the interest rate rise. What have you been hearing is the biggest issue?

PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: Yeah, I’ve been out at the train stations, like this morning, at 6:30 we go out and have a chat. Look the cost-of-living issues were there before even the interest rate rise and that pressure has been there for people right throughout my electorate and they’re feeling it. They’re feeling that pressure, the lack of wages growth, but also inflationary pressure, and they’re going to have a knock-on effect into your basic purchases, your groceries, rent, all of that, so people are feeling it. And I know the interest rate rise is not insignificant, $65 around if you got a half a million mortgage, more if you’ve got a bigger mortgage. But look people were already feeling the squeeze and feeling the pressure, and I think this is becoming a big election issue. This is what we’re taking about, let’s set aside curries, who knows how much it’s going to cost for the all the ingredients for his chicken korma, but people are really worried about buying basic goods, like basic groceries, vegetables, have gone up by 14%. I mean that’s crazy. So, when you’ve got people trying to make ends meet, this is what they’re concerned about, and they’re just looking at which party, who in government can actually help ease those cost-of-living pressures, and people need to have a look, and compare between what Morrison’s offering and what we’re offering. We’ve got policies around cheaper childcare to ease pressure on families, we’ve got policies around cutting the cost of medication on the PBS cutting medication by $12.50, we’ve got policies around cheaper power builds based on the modelling and the investments in that. And, secure work Steve because that’s where you wage growth starts to flow from. And you know, all these things’ people need to have an assessment of, to see whether they’re better off with a Labor government.

PRICE: I know your vital interest in foreign affairs, you were former National Security Advisor to Kevin Rudd, and I’m pleased to say you’re going to take over as Co-Chair of the Global China group that Kimberly Kitching was involved with. I’m going to relay in a moment and then give you a chance to respond, but Sarah Greenock from 7, she’s in Ukraine, she’s now back in Kiev. She tells a story, Peter, of a local Ukrainian man captured by Russian soldiers, dragged out of his house, taken out to the middle of a paddock, thrown down in the snow, they take his shoes off him, then stick him on a train, a helicopter, and a plane and take him to an internment camp in Russia. He gets frostbite so bad on his feet they cut off all 10 of his toes, and then they use him in a prison exchange for a Russian soldier and then dump him back at his house. I mean, it’s almost impossible for us here in this country to get our head around that, what Russia is doing to that country is just, its incomprehensible. It’s appalling war crimes. I mean, are we doing enough to help?

KHALIL: Look, to be fair, and to give credit to the government, we have responded very quickly with assistance, with military assistance, lethal aid, and humanitarian assistance. Look, we could always do a little bit more, but you’re right, the situation in Ukraine is horrific. We’re seeing World War II stuff here, we’re seeing the reason why our diggers fought for freedom, to fight against those types of authoritarians, those types of autocratic states, those types of dictatorships, and Putin is a prime example of that. These kind of threats to our democracies and our freedom haven’t gone away, and you know this, you know, role as Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Alliance on China policy is an important one because it is all about safeguarding the international rules-based order, which we as democracies support. We work within a legal structure, a rules-based order, it’s about upholding human rights, it’s about promoting trade fairness, it’s about strengthening our security, and importantly it’s about protecting our national integrity from interference and Russia has been involved in interfering, not just China, but Russia, in different types of political interference around the world, whether it be UK, US, Australia, through cyber warfare type techniques. These are real threats, we need to face them, we’ve got a very volatile period coming up Steve, and I’m pleased to step into this role, as you said, Kimberly Kitching did amazing work in this space, standing up on human rights, and Magnitsky laws, which we’re now by the way, using to put sanctions on some of Putin’s cronies, Australia’s doing that, so that’s a legacy of hers, which we’re benefitting from now as far as having a tool to fight back against these autocrats.

PRICE: Good on you for steeping into that role and good on you for talking to us. We’ll obviously talk next week as we get down to the final two weeks of the campaign. Thanks mate.

KHALIL: Good on you Steve, thanks mate.





Subjects: Cost of living pressures and Labor policies to ease the cost of living, Australia’s position in the world, Labor’s stance on the Solomon Islands, how Labor would repair Pacific relationships, climate change action and renewable energy investment.

GREG JENNETT, HOST: Now it would usually be time now for our political panel. Liberal MP Dave Sharma was scheduled to join us today, but has had to cancel, so we’re joined by Labor’s Peter Khalil. He holds the Melbourne seat of Wills, all MPs are of course busy in the midst of a campaign, and we know schedules are hard to manage, so appreciate you sticking with us today, Peter Khalil. Why don’t we start with interest rates and cost of living. The Government’s come out with yet another measure today. This is the deeming rate for pensioners, Labor locked on instantly. Is there no cost-of-living measure that Labor won’t just instantly mirror, as the Coalition keeps dropping more and more into this campaign?

PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: G’day Greg, how are you? Good to be here with you, even though I don’t have a political opponent.

JENNETT: I’ll do my best.

KHALIL: I’m sure you will, as a good journalist. But look, the cost-of-living pressures, and I hear this in my electorate throughout the campaign, and before the campaign. Yes, mortgages are going to go up with the cash rate going up and the banks passing it on. But there have been cost-of-living pressures right throughout, in my community, well before the decision by the Reserve Bank. Whether you are a renter for example, people who are struggling with childcare costs, energy bills, these are all things that have been happening, stagnant wages, and it’s not a matter of mirroring Greg. Labor has been very forthcoming in pointing out where we would provide relief on cost-of-living pressures, cheaper childcare is one big one. The reduction in energy bills and power bills that we have announced and talked about, our investment in that and how that would work.

JENNETT: But hypothetically, you could get to a point, Peter Khalil, where the Government let’s say might get into panic mode and start dropping hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of initiatives, all borrowed money, to try and save its skin. Where is Labor’s red line on some of these cost-of-living initiatives? There doesn’t seem to have been one when you consider the Budget measures went through, that’s fuel excise, the pension bonus, low-and middle-income tax offset increase, Commonwealth senior’s health card, I mean, there’s quite a list by now.

KHALIL: Yeah, and we’ve talked about where we have relieved cost-of-living for people whether it is free TAFE, whether it’s cutting power bills, whether it’s cheaper childcare, making medicines cheaper on the PBS, these are things that we’ve announced, but I don’t accept false equivalence there. Yes, they’re a trillion dollars in debt, this government, but people will say ‘oh well, you’re just going to spend in the same way’. No we would have had much more targeted spending. We’ve been very critical of the Government’s waste; the sport rorts, the car parks, the spending that they have made which is very political, very politicised, even with respect to some of the wage subsidies and the packages during the pandemic where it was a cookie-cutter approach, a lot of money went out.

JENNETT: Sure, but you would’ve and did argue for Job Keeper to be extended for longer periods of time.

KHALIL: We argued for Job Keeper at the start and Scott Morrison was adamantly opposed to the wage subsidy and had to be dragged to it. He eventually got there when Boris Johnson did it in the UK, so that’s the fact there, that that happened. But what we said was, it should have been much more targeted so it’s much more focused on where the need is. But there were sectors that were completely left out. Like the arts and entertainment sector.

JENNETT: To which your remedy was cover them and spend more.

KHALIL: No, what I am saying to you Greg, is does anyone really think watching this, that a Labor Government in power wouldn’t have implemented a much better support package targeted properly, not just throwing the money around? We would have been very focused on where the need is and not just splurging it around. And they claim to be better economic managers. They have been wasteful and worse than that, political, primarily in their spending money around car parks that are not even going to get built and where the train station doesn’t even exist, sports rorts. There’s a whole list, an arm long, and I just don’t accept the false equivalence there.

JENNETT: Yeah ok. We heard Jim Chalmers taking up some of those arguments with Josh Frydenberg today. Can I take you to foreign relations, which I know you keep a keen eye on, and I’m not sure we have had a chance to talk in the campaign-proper so far. But the Solomons has really featured since it signed its security pact with China. We have heard lots of statements from Penny Wong and others about what the priorities should be. But what would the very first step be for an incoming Labor Government? For that country in particular. Is it a personal visit? Should it be a personal visit by the Foreign Minister, herself?

KHALIL: Well, Greg, you kind of touched on it and this has been our criticism of the Government. We are not saying that they’re entirely responsible for all of it but they’re denying any responsibility whatsoever. They haven’t done the diplomatic hard yards, the deep engagement that was necessary. They go on about the Pacific family, but they haven’t engaged in a constructive way. And what do we expect when a government cuts foreign aid by $11.8 billion over nine years? They cut aid to the Solomon Islands by 27.8%.

JENNETT: But what would a Labor Foreign Minister do right off the top?

KHALIL: Well, it’s about deeper engagement with our partners in the region, our Pacific neighbours, treating them as equal partners, as sovereign states, not a paternalistic fashion. But, also engaging with them on issues that matter to them. Obviously, climate change is one of those issues that’s an existential crisis for all of us, but certainly for our Pacific neighbours. And the treatment they got from this government was, well, woeful, with respect to those issues. But it’s also about working the multilateral approach right across the region, doing the diplomatic hard yards. I have great confidence in Penny Wong’s ability, her capacity, to be able to engage with our partners in the region and with Anthony Albanese, to work with our partners to resolve some of the issues that they’re facing.

JENNETT: But this one’s flown the coup, you’d accept that. I mean, is it conceivable that the Solomons deal, could they be persuaded to walk away from it, or revoke it? Or is that one done and dusted in your view?

KHALIL: Look, you’re raising a hypothetical. I mean, I would hope that, and again, it’s hypothetical, we don’t know, I mean the Australian people are going to decide in the election in three weeks, but if we were given a chance to govern, I am very confident in our ability to conduct a foreign policy that engages with our partners in a respectful manner, but also works on the solid, tangible issues that matter to our partners and not treat them with disdain, and that is important. We wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in if this government had actually done its job over a number of years, and it’s not a question of, “oh they should have sent the Foreign Minister last week”. No, we’re talking but years of not getting it right. And, by the way, can I just be really clear, that’s a failure of political leadership. You know, our military, our security agencies, our diplomats have done excellent work and continue to do excellent work, it’s a failure at a political level to engage, and I’ve been very partisan about this, Marise (MIA) Payne. Missing in action is basically what they’ve been.

JENNETT: I would expect nothing less from you on that score. But since you mention it – partisan politics – why don’t I take you to your own seat, very quickly and finally, Peter Khalil. Last time I saw it on the pendulum, should be pretty safe, very safe indeed. What are the Greens doing to you? Trying to cut your lunch?

KHALIL: Yeah well, you never take any vote for granted. It is about working hard for the local community, which is a great privilege to be a representative, and to serve the community, but it’s also about the national policies. You know, when I talk to people at train stations in the morning or street stalls, or door-knocking, climate change keeps coming up. The fact that it’s an existential crisis that has not gone away because of the pandemic we’ve gone through, it is still there.

JENNETT: You’re needing to project that a little louder, are you? Just because of the dynamics of the green on red competition?

KHALIL: No, no I’m telling you that these are issues people raise with me. Climate change, cost of living which we’ve discussed, also Australia’s place the world, funnily enough, you talked about it. But, you know, on climate change, it’s about real action on climate change, and I know you had the Green’s leader on before. You know, I looked at their website, I couldn’t find any detail of their policy, it said something like, you know it’s going to be up in a couple of weeks. Well, we are a couple of weeks away from the election. You know, Labor is a party that can form government, we have to take responsibility, and cost and detail our policies. We are going to be investing $20 billion in rewiring the electricity grid with renewable energy infrastructure, $3 billion in renewable manufacturing, 400 solar community batteries around the country. These are real actions that will get us to 82% renewable energy on the grid by 2030. It will transition us from fossil fuels to the renewables and unlock the potential of renewable energy and you just can’t talk about it, like some minor party, you actually have to deliver it.

JENNETT: No, fair enough. We will let you go and argue that case and your cause with the voters in Wills while also thanking you for joining us, thank you Peter Khalil.

KHALIL: Thanks, Greg.




Subjects: Liberal Party Infighting, IPCC Report, Aged Care

GREG JENNETT, HOST: Well, time now to check in on some of the main issues of the day with our political panel. Liberal MP Jason Falinski is in Sydney joining us this afternoon, and Labor’s Peter Khalil is in Melbourne. Jason, your party and in fact your state of NSW, very much in the spotlight. This election must be getting serious if you’re foregoing, as I hear you are, parent teacher interviews to be talking politics on the ABC this afternoon.

JASON FALINSKI, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR MACKELLAR: It’s about the only thing that gets me out of parent teacher interviews. And when I told my wife that Peter would be here, she said, well, you have to do it then.


JENNETT: There you go, you’ve got a leave pass. So why don’t we cut to it. We’ve had this e-mail going out to Liberal Party members from Matthew Camenzuli earlier in the day, prior to the court decision imploring members to front now and unite against Labor and the formation of an Albanese government. Will that happen in view of all the built-up acrimony in your ranks right now?

FALINSKI: Yes, it will, Greg. And I’m sorry to kind of take over a little bit, but I was just listening to the previous interview about carbon emissions in Australia, and it is not correct what Mark Howden said. Emissions in Australia have fallen on 2005 levels by 21%. If you exclude land management changes, that’s how you get an increase. That is just scientifically not correct to do. And I don’t think it’s right and Australians need to know the truth: that our emissions have come down by over 20% since 2005. But having said that, the one thing that the Liberal Party will do is come together to fight a Labor government, because we know that it will mean higher taxes and it will mean a country that is less well off if Anthony Albanese, Jim Chalmers, [and] Penny Wong are running the country instead of Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg and Peter Dutton.

JENNETT: Well, we might come back and revisit the IPCC report more substantively with Peter as a talking point in a moment. But it’s been made abundantly clear by people like Connie Fierravanti-Wells that some campaign workers just may not front – despite these exhortations from Matthew Camenzuli and others. This still hangs as a dagger over the heart for the Liberal campaign, doesn’t it?

FALINSKI: I think it’s a thorn to the side, not a dagger to the heart. I mean, Concetta lost a hard-fought preselection. I understand she’s disappointed. It’s human nature to want to lash out at those people we hold responsible. She’s done that to two previous Liberal Party leaders. I understand that she’s probably very disappointed at the moment. However, for the thousands of members of the Liberal Party in NSW who didn’t just lose Senate preselection’s, they know what is important about this upcoming election: cost of living, increasing home ownership, ensuring that we have a safe and secure economy and national defence and, of course, getting to net zero before 2050 as cheaply and as quickly as possible. 

JENNETT: Alright, Peter, you’re not going to be throwing stones while in a glass house, I imagine, when it comes to acrimonious federal interventions, because you sit in a state branch of the Labor Party which has gone through just that. So, can we expect some restraint in your commentary on this court case this afternoon?

KHALIL: Well, I’m glad that you’re trying to do a bit of a protection racket for Jason there. But frankly, the –

FALINSKI: I need it, Peter. I need it.

KHALIL: You do need it. The analogy doesn’t quite fit, Greg, because in the context of the Victorian branch, Anthony Albanese took a leadership decision to put the party branch under administration to sort out the issues that were bedeviling the branch. And here I have a real question mark again around the character of the Prime Minister. How does he justify having taxpayers pay for senior legal officers, in this case the most senior Commonwealth lawyer, the Solicitor General, to go to the High Court to take sides in NSW internal factional war? I mean, that’s another cross against his character. And look, don’t take it just from me, because you’ll say, “oh, it’s all partisan” and I’m throwing stones at the Prime Minister in an election campaign. Malcolm Turnbull, his own Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the French President, Emmanuel Macron, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells – even crossbenchers like Pauline Hanson and Jacqui Lambie have all questioned the Prime Minister’s character. They can’t all be wrong.

Now, three years ago, people saw people saw Scott Morrison kicking a couple of footies around or trying to kick the footy around, throwing a couple of rugby balls, hitting a few tennis balls and wearing a baseball cap and thinking, “oh, there’s a daggy dad. He seems nice.” Now they’ve seen what he’s really like over the last three years – and more importantly, his government’s failures over the last three years, and that’s what they’ll be judging him on. 

JENNETT: Alright, well, to that point Jason: “Asset becomes liability” – is that the story of the last three years? 

FALINSKI: Well, that’s Peter’s story. I think Australians are smart enough to work out that Concetta’s smarting and not to take advice from a senator who got thrown out of the chairman’s lounge because she abused people who were trying to help her. On the question of character, they will be more focused on cost of living, home ownership, whether we have a safe and secure country and economy, and how quickly we’re going to get to net zero and how cheaply we’re going to get there. They’re the four issues that Australians will be focused on. They’re the things that matter, and they’re the things that we’ll be talking about because ultimately, it’s about them, not us.

JENNETT: Well, here’s the fifth issue, Peter, from your side: aged care front and centre for Anthony Albanese’s budget speech in reply. What’s unclear, though, and that was four or five days ago, is where all the nurses are going to come from to have one in each facility 24/7. Are you agreeing with Mark Dreyfus that there might need to be some sort of pause on the objective to have them in place by July 2023? 

KHALIL: Thanks, Greg. Look, the focus is on the commitment that we made, obviously that the leader made, around making sure that you get nurses on there 24/7 is important. It’s imperative. We know the aged care sector is in crisis, so that is a very important commitment.

JENNETT: But by when? 

KHALIL: There will be a challenge in hiring, absolutely. Part of this is around the pandemic and the borders having been closed, but obviously with the borders opening again there are more opportunities both for people to migrate to Australia and there’ll be more of a pool to recruit nurses as well. That’s been stopped, frankly, over the last couple years we have had real shortages over the last couple of years. So that is opening up again. The important thing is the commitment. This sector has been in crisis. The government, the federal government, the Morrison government has been in power for now nine years, and they have run it to the ground. They are responsible. We’re taking action. We’re making commitments: $2.5 billion, extra funding as was announced in the budget reply, meeting all of the recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission and making sure those nurses are there 24/7.

JENNETT: But by when? Just quickly, Peter: on the nurse’s question, what is the back marker? What is the timeline for them to be in place? 

KHALIL: If we win the election, we’ll make sure that we do all the assessments – if we need to accelerate recruitment, put in initiatives to do that. That kind of work has to be done if you win government, but the commitment is there and that’s the most important thing: making sure that we get this done because the aged care sector needs it. The Australians that are in aged care, our grandparents, and our parents, deserve better.

JENNETT: Alright, Jason, because we promised to come back to it: leaving aside your quibbles with Mark Howden and his interview with Fran – when it comes to the baseline within this IPCC report, the latest, it is that there is an expectation that developed countries need to go above and beyond their Glasgow commitments. There is no possibility that a Coalition government will alter course, is there?

FALINSKI: Yeah, there’s a lot of possibility because of what Mark Howden was saying. Frankly, anyone who says that our emissions have gone up, you know they are being political. Anyone that talks about the 28% target without talking about the fact that our projections by 2030 are now at 35% and are only going to get higher. So, we are going to be way ahead of our target and our projections by this time next year. And the fact is, the same people who three years ago were saying you’d never get to 28% are no longer willing to say, “actually we were wrong and we’re now 7% above that target”. I suspect that as we go through this decade – and what Mark Howden was saying, this part was absolutely right – the cost of renewables is going through the floor. We have a program in Australia to get solar energy down to $0.30 per kWh. And to put that in context, your average coal-fired power station at the moment costs about $35-40 per megawatt hour. So, we are talking about massive reductions in the cost of energy. Now, that comes with problems and challenges around dispatchable power. We know that, and that’s why we’ve invested an extra $1.9 billion in ARENA to come up with the technologies that produce that. But Australia is about 1.2% of global emissions. What we can do here is show the rest of the world that not only is net zero possible, but it is profitable. And when we do that, other countries like China and India who are responsible for far more emissions than Australia ever will be, will be forced to follow our lead.

JENNETT: Right. Just quickly, Peter, very last word, will technology get us there? Certainly, the IPCC is holding out some hope optimistically that that it will. 

KHALIL: Well, the IPCC report is very confronting, but it’s fairly predictable. You get this when you have a government that likes, and we’ve seen this on display with Jason ducking and weaving, minimising our contribution to any real meaningful global effort. It’s the Prime Minister who sets some of the lowest, least ambitious reduction targets in the Western world. 

FALINSKI: I just said the opposite. 

KHALIL: The fact is that –

FALINSKI: That’s not true. 

KHALIL: They can become a renewable energy superpower, and the Morrison government is deliberately getting the way of that progress.

FALINSKI: That’s not true.

KHALIL: And I’ll tell you this for your viewers and the last word, if you stop interrupting me, Jason, you had a pretty good run there, it’s a missed opportunity because we know –


KHALIL: It’s a missed opportunity because we know, Labor knows, that we, by addressing climate change, there’s a real jobs opportunity there and we’re going to be making investments into renewable energy infrastructure. $20 billion to rewire the grid for renewables, 10,000 new clean energy apprenticeships, $200,000,000 for solar community batteries, making electric cars cheaper and a whole range of other policies that will make our renewable energy future real. We’ve got a commitment to 82% renewable energy by 2030. We will take real action, not talk about it like some minor parties, and not do nothing like the Coalition if we win the next election. 

JENNETT: Alright, we’re going to leave it there. We probably can get you two back together again in the campaign to kick this one around a little further. Peter Khalil and Jason Falinski, thanks for joining us on Afternoon Briefing.

KHALIL: Thanks Greg. Thanks Jason.

FALINSKI: Thanks, Craig. Thanks Peter. 




Subjects: Kimberley Kitching; renewable energy

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: We’re going to go live now to Labor MP Peter Khalil. Peter, good morning to you. Kimberley Kitching’s husband, Andrew, lashed out at a so-called cantankerous cabal within Labor at the funeral of Kimberley Kitching yesterday. Does that cabal exist in your view?

PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: Well first of all, Peter, Kimberley was not just a colleague of mine but a friend, and we are still grieving Kimba. She was a remarkable woman and Andrew’s eulogy was beautiful. It was touching, it was quite long. I know the media is wanting their headlines and so on but here’s what he said about Kimba; that she was not just charming and someone who loved him regardless of his flaws – it was raw in the way that he talked about her. But she was someone who had principles, she was a political warrior and a champion of freedom and democracy and human rights. She actually delivered through policies like the Magnitsky laws that she shepherded through the parliament and worked so hard to deliver, which are actually, by the way, now being used to sanction the puppets of Vladimir Putin and the oligarchs. So, she has a considerable legacy in this space, and Andrew did touch on the fact that politics was a tough game and that there were people that, inside and outside politics – I think you refer to that phrase – now refers to a much broader view of people that went against that. And he said that, actually, when someone stands up like that on principle you always get people attacking you and resisting you or disagreeing with you. So, I thought Andrew’s eulogy was really beautiful and touching and from the heart, very heartfelt.

STEFANOVIC: Can Labor, though, end the factional fighting before the election?

KHALIL: Look, we are grieving as a party. Many people who worked and were friends with Kimberley are feeling a lot of pain and raw emotion. But the answer to that is yes, we are all focused – you heard all the eulogies yesterday and Andrew himself talk about the importance of us winning because that is what Kimberley would want. She was a true believer, she wanted Labor to win because she knew that we could deliver for the Australian people, and eulogies in a political funeral tend to be a bit political and there was a fair bit of talk about how important a Labor government was for reformation, and for Australia’s future.

STEFANOVIC: Just a final one here, Angus Taylor – and this relates to energy and national security for that matter – he wants to accelerate the development of seven gas infrastructure projects to guarantee supply. Do you support that? Does Labor support that?

KHALIL: Oh, mate, you know what? This is another five-minute-to-midnight spin from the Federal Government. They’ve been in office for nine years, we’ve had two years of spin about a fake, so-called gas-led recovery that hasn’t created a single job. They promised last election a grid reliability fund, Peter – they haven’t delivered it, they haven’t legislated that. They haven’t actually, in their underwriting of the New Generation Investments program, which you’re talking about, invested in one project, not one since the last election. Now gas is necessary for firming and peaking, Peter, as you know, but these guys have not planned. These guys haven’t done the work necessary to actually provide the infrastructure on the grid, and Federal Labor’s got a Powering Australia Plan which will bring down prices, which will cut power prices, which we’ll invest in the electricity grid. And as you know, renewable energy is one of the cheapest forms going around, of energy – get that infrastructure in place, and make sure. So, absolutely there’s support the gas. They haven’t done anything. They have not done anything and they’re doing it just before the election. Where have they been for the last two years? For the last nine years?

STEFANOVIC: Okay, we’re squeezed for time today, Pete, but thank you for your time. We’ll talk to you soon. Peter Khalil, speaking to us.