Sky News – COP26


Subject/s discussed: COP26

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: You are watching First Edition. Thank you for your company this morning. Let’s head down to Victoria now. Joining us is Labor MP Peter Khalil. Peter, good to see you. Let’s start off with these comments from Jim Chalmers. So Labor’s going to commission the federal Treasury to model the cost of climate change to the national economy. What’s the difference between that option and what’s currently going through industry department Consultancy Group’s?

PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: Well, good morning Pete, My understanding is that Treasury has not been utilised by the government for some seven or eight years, maybe longer.


PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: That’s right. Yeah. In utilising Treasury skills and abilities to do the modelling. It’s part of what they do. Obviously, Treasury officials consider themselves some of the best public servants. And I think it’s a very smart move by Jim to say that we commit utilising the Treasury Department in doing that kind of modelling, which is such an important issue about the cost of acting on climate change. If there is cost, the cost of inaction on climate change, that modelling is critical for us to set a path to create that path for us that ensures our prosperity to the future.

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: But what is the difference between that and what the government is currently using at the moment? Which is through the industry department and goes through consultancy groups as well as them? Is there much of a difference?

PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: You just said it, part of that is outsourced to consultancy groups. That’s not utilising the public service. Certainly not utilising the best of the economic departments in the public service, which is Treasury. I find it a bit odd, frankly, that the government has not used Treasury to do some of this work. It is the pre-eminent economic department if you like in our federal system in the Commonwealth and they have just been left sitting on the bench Pete. You know, would you leave your best player, your best midfielder or whatever rugby term you use, your rower or whatever it is, fullback sitting on the bench.  A midfielder in AFL. Leaving your best midfielder on the bench.

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: OK, fair enough. I take your point now when it comes to Labor’s climate policy, I know you’re going to say it’s all going to be announced in a couple of weeks time. But I just I just want to get your personal inclination. Would it be your preference to go small target, perhaps marginally better, what the government is proposing when it comes to 2030 or would you like or prefer to see something more ambitious?

PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: My personal view, it’s not just personal. I have a view that I would put in caucus, in the Labor caucus. Of course, as you mentioned, it’s a determination, a decision made by our shadow cabinet, then it goes to our caucus and we discuss it. So I’ll have my say. But it’s personal. I actually think we should be setting targets that are in the best interest, national interest of Australia as the starting point. A lot of that, frankly Pete, and this, you will say ‘oh, you’re not giving me an answer’, a lot of that is dependent upon the evidence base and the modelling that we do, some of the work that we might have to do to look into it. And that’s difficult in opposition because we don’t have Treasury as an example to do that very sophisticated work for us as an opposition. But I think we need to be really clear eyed about the target. Obviously, when we had a 45 percent target at the last election, 2019, it was a 11 years to 2030. Now it’s 8 years to 2030. So that needs to be taken to consideration and I think the important thing, whether it’s mid-forties or whatever it might be, whatever the target might be, I don’t know what the final decision will be. The really important thing is the policies that we will be announcing and putting in place to actually get us to that target. And also, more importantly, frankly, than the interim target, is will this see us as a pathway right through to net zero in 2050? And it’s really dependent upon those policies, we’ve already announced 20 billion for renewable energy on the infrastructure, onto the electricity grid. That’s an important part of it, that there’ll be more announcements. So people are going to get wrapped up in the target. Is going to be 40, is it going to be 45. Is it going to be 35. What’s actually important is the policies that will get us that interim target but also get to net zero in 2050.

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Glasgow’s signal, the death knell of coal, in your opinion?

PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: Well, look, it depends your perspective, doesn’t it for Glasgow’s success. It’s very subjective, depends on your perspective. They did do some good things. Obviously, they’ve worked out obviously the come to agreement around a couple of things like committing to that 1.5 degree increase. They’ve also improved the commitments around coal.

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: But Boris Johnson said Glasgow basically signalled the death knell for coal. I mean, is that something that you agree with?

PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: Well, in fact, the big emitters watered down the language of the text at the last moment. So you can make an argument that Boris is probably overreaching by making that statement. In fact, China, the US and I think India will eventually change the text. But the important point to note is, this is the first COP, I think, where they’ve actually even mentioned fossil fuels in the in the text. But then again, the text itself was then watered down by those big emitters. So I don’t think that’s the case. There is certainly a commitment to phasing down fossil fuels over time. But as I said, the language has been watered down. Look, frankly, the reduction in emissions has to come from those big emitters and countries around the world recognise that. And that’s why there was some disappointment around the watering down of the text.

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Okay, Peter Khalil, we are out of time! Good to see you though!