SKY NEWS DAY WITH TOM CONNELL
WEDNESDAY, 27 OCTOBER 2021
Subjects: net zero by 2050; COP26; Labor’s climate policies, Coalition’s climate failure
TOM CONNELL, HOST: Joining me live is Labor MP Peter Khalil. Peter thanks for your time. So Labor’s criticism of this – ‘too much reliance on technology’ – how do you mean?
PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: Well, there is that point Tom – thanks for having me, by the way – there is that point and I think with all the fuss and all the infighting between, you know, between the Nats and the Libs and all this pantomime with Barnaby Joyce huffing and puffing, what’s it all been for? Because it’s not really a plan. There’s no new funding, there’s no modeling and there’s certainly no new ambition as far as policies on climate change and, in a sense, the Prime Minister has delivered some talking points and reheated the technology roadmap from a year ago. There’s nothing new there and there’s this big bet as you point out on low emissions technology, where’s the investment in renewables in solar, in wind power? It’s very disappointing on many levels. And I think I’ll just make that last point about the disappointment. It doesn’t allow us or Australia to go to Glasgow with any real diplomatic heft or leverage to actually negotiate, to reduce global emissions from the big emitters. Right?
CONNELL: Right, so the government says there’s an overall $20 billion envelope for those technologies to get us there. What are you saying? That’s not enough money?
KHALIL: Well, firstly, they have not updated their interim targets, where 30% of countries going, you know, have haven’t actually updated what’s called the NDCs which means we’re one of the laggards globally.
CONNELL: So, we’ve got this projection rather than locking it in.
KHALIL: Yes, there’s a projection, but they haven’t updated —
CONNELL: Not as ambitious as well? Would you have, do you think when Labor is looking at this, you’ve already heard today from Tanya Plibersek, she said we’ll be more ambitious on the interim target. Does that mean more ambitious than the projection?
KHALIL: Well, we will certainly be more ambitious on the interim targets. Chris Bowen said it, Tanya Plibersek said it, Anthony Albanese said it.
CONNELL: Does that mean then the government’s 26 to 28 commitment or more ambitious than the projection?
KHALIL: Well, I’m pretty sure you’ll find out when Chris Bowen and Anthony Albanese announce what our position is ahead of the election and after Glasgow. And it will certainly be more ambitious. I think that –
CONNELL: When you say ‘certainly more ambitious’, than what?
KHALIL: Ok, the important thing though is –
CONNELL: Yeah, but hang on, you just said ‘certainly more ambitious’, than what?
KHALIL: It will be more ambitious than the government, and if we’re gonna play around in the semantics, Tom that’s fine.
CONNELL: It’s not semantics. It’s important.
KHALIL: It is important. It is important because –
CONNELL: The Government has a commitment, you’ve got a higher projected figure. You said it will ‘certainly be more ambitious’, than what?
KHALIL: Well, it will be more ambitious than what the Government has put on the table. And, I don’t know, because I’m not in the shadow cabinet, so I can’t announce this for you today,
CONNELL: What part of what the Government put on the table, the commitment or the projection?
KHALIL: What’s important here, Tom, is more ambitious interim targets and policies that actually get us to net zero, which we’ve already announced far more detail than the government and there’ll be more announcements ahead of the election about how we will get to net zero, and create the jobs and cut the emissions, in a way that gets us to those goals, with detailed policies. Now this government’s come out with a reheated so-called technology roadmap with very little detail, no modeling, no actual new policies in many senses. We’ve actually got a series of policies we’ve already announced – $20 billion to rewire the electricity grid for renewable infrastructure. $200 million for solar batteries for the community, cheaper electric cars, 10,000 energy apprenticeships. These are real policies.
CONNELL: Let’s jump into some of those, because the key, on the side of economists, what they talk about is incentives and funding and subsidies and that’s all great, but you’ve also got to, push some areas of the economy to adjust. So, let’s talk about a couple of those. The safeguard mechanism, it’s set so high now it’s essentially irrelevant. Should that be looked at? If big emitters that are on this list, several hundred of the country’s biggest emitters, aren’t reducing, do you need to tighten that safeguard mechanism?
KHALIL: Which big emitters are you talking about, sorry?
CONNELL: The big emitters in Australia, the biggest emitters in Australia, are on the list of the safeguard mechanism. So, they’re given a cap of how much they can emit each year, but it’s quite generous. Basically, none of them hit it. Labor’s previously pledged to tighten that. Are you going to do that?
KHALIL: Yeah look, again, Chris Bowen will probably release some of the details around that policy. I can’t make these announcements on your program, as is important as your program is. All of those details will be announced.
CONNELL: Do you agree with the principle then though, that if you just say, here are some incentives, go for it, here are some industries, you’ll have to push some to change? Not every company will do it because it’s the right thing.
KHALIL: I think you’re touching on what is a really important point, which is that to do this properly, there’s going to be some shift. And what, what we’ve seen from the government, is this is kind of a magic pudding. No one’s going to have to do anything different. It’s all going to be fine. We’ll get to, you know, net zero as an aspiration, but it’s not going to cost anything. There’s not going to be any shift. The reality is we are losing an opportunity to shift to renewables. The market is going there and this government hasn’t, you know, we talk about some of the announcements or sort of “plans” or “TPs” they put out yesterday. They haven’t really seized that opportunity, which is the shift in our economy and the opportunity in our economy to create jobs in that renewable energy sector. So there’s going to have to be an honest conversation with the Australian public about what it means to get there.
CONNELL: Okay, when you talk about honest conversation, we’re talking about an industrial based company that’s on this safeguard mechanism list at the moment, and it can lower emissions by buying offsets, or by using CCS, they both cost money. They won’t do that unless they’re pushed to.
KHALIL: Are you talking about a government – from the government side of things? Or policy?
CONNELL: Well, this company won’t do it unless they have to, this private company is not just going to cut emissions because it’s the right thing to do, are they?
KHALIL: Well, some companies, I’m going to challenge that point, because some companies have actually made a commitment on emissions reductions, and they have been very open about that. Now, testing the reality of that –
CONNELL: If they’re going to make this commitment, it can’t just leave all of that up to the goodwill of companies and shareholders, can they?
KHALIL: I mean, there’s going to be a balance between the regulatory framework that’s set by the Australian government and the companies themselves voluntarily taking certain actions. And some of them, as you pointed out, have already done that as far as the detail on that, I’d love to help you, but again, it’s, I’m not going to preempt announcements by my Leader and the Shadow Minister on this stuff.
CONNELL: We did invite him on today, I know he’s busy, so –
KHALIL: They’re working through that detail.
CONNELL: So when you talk about being realistic and a cost though, is that the realistic conversation you’re having, to pretend there’s no cost for any industry is actually totally unrealistic?
KHALIL: Well, there’s also the issue of the cost of inaction and that’s something that we don’t, I mean, I know everyone focuses on, ‘oh this is going to cost everyone, it’s going to cost, what’s it going to cost?’ There’s also a cost of not acting. And that is the point I was making earlier.
CONNELL: I understand, the trading tariffs and a whole lot of things. But does that also mean being upfront about this is not, this is not a free lunch for every single industry. Change, change can cost.
KHALIL: Well change, there’s one constant in life and that’s change. Isn’t there? Things are not going to stand still, and it’s certainly not going to stay and still over the next 10, 20, 30 years. And we need to seize the opportunity as a nation to actually get out ahead of the curve, frankly, on something that actually is to our benefit. We have an abundance of renewable energy options. Australia is, you know, blessed with that kind of those kind of natural resources and solar and wind and so on. And we’re not grabbing those opportunities.
CONNELL: Just one other area, vehicle emission standards, will that be on the table? That’s what really will drive –
KHALIL: Yeah. That’s a good question. Again, you’re going to get disappointed because I’m not going to give you the announcement from the Shadow Minister but, again, all of these things need to be put on the table and Labor has already been very detailed in the policies we’ve announced. There’ll be more.
CONNELL: Peter Khalil, Thank you.
KHALIL: Thanks Tom.