SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION
TUESDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Labor’s emissions target; superannuation; gas; HomeBuilder, 20th anniversary of the Sydney Olympics.
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will go to the next election without specific climate change targets for 2030, as I was talking to the Senator about. An ALP document obtained by The Australian newspaper outlines opposition plans to turn Australia into a renewable energy powerhouse. The 99-page document backed by Shadow Cabinet this month makes no mention of 2030 or 2035 emissions reduction or renewable energy targets. But it does reveal Labor is committed to a 15 per cent super guarantee and implementing major industrial relations reforms. Joining me now is the Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Jason Clare. Jason, good to see you. Thanks very much for joining us.
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: G’day mate.
STEFANOVIC: So, is Labor ditching its 2030 emissions targets?
CLARE: Pete, we’ll make a decision about that closer to the next election. We’ll release detailed policies when we get to the next election. But we’ve said we’re committed to net zero emissions by 2050. It’s not a scary thing, BHP said that we need to do this. Last week the National Farmers Federation said we need to commit to this. It seems like it’s only the Libs and the Nats who think that this is impossible. You saw Matt Canavan raving on a minute ago there about shutting down industries, that’s just rubbish. Everybody that’s looked at this said that we can get to that target by 2050, and we just need a government that’s prepared to work with the Opposition, work across the aisle, to put in place the policies that will get us there.
STEFANOVIC: So, you are ditching it, you’re ditching those 2030 plans? Is that report wrong or is it right?
CLARE: We’ve said everything’s under review. All of the policies are under review. This is a draft platform that sets in place broad principles. We’ll announce a final platform before the election and detailed policies. We haven’t made that decision yet. We’ll make that down the track.
STEFANOVIC: It makes sense doesn’t it though, because perhaps 2030 is a bit too close. It makes sense to maybe target something that’s a little bit a little bit more achievable.
CLARE: I think Mark Butler has said that. The next election is not due till 2021 or 2022. That leaves only eight years. So, if you’re going to have an interim target, you’d have to think about all of that, but we’ll make that decision down the track. What we’ve said is 2050 is the target for net zero emissions and other countries have said that as well. And Australia is being called on by other countries around the world to commit to that. Scott Morrison should be able to do that. All the evidence shows that’s where we need to go.
STEFANOVIC: All right. One of the points that was made in this manifesto is that Labor seems keen on getting to a 15 per cent super guarantee. Is that wise in the current climate given that there is so much turbulence around this debate at the moment? It’s even on ropey ground whether the super guarantee you can get to 10 per cent at the moment. Is 15 too far?
CLARE: Well Pete, after this interview I’ll go out the street and I’ll ask the people whether they think that they should be getting 15 per cent super because guess what: I get it, Scott Morrison gets it, Josh Frydenberg gets it, and they want to deny all other Australians the right to get the same thing that pollies get. I think most Australians when they’re told that the pollies get 15 per cent super but everyone else is told nine and a half percent is good enough for you, would be pretty bloody furious. Superannuation helps prepare you for retirement, helps to make sure you don’t retire in poverty. And the Libs think nah nah, it’s all right, Aussies can deal with nine and a half percent super. That’s what they’re arguing for, this group of backbench MPs that are saying we want to keep superannuation at nine and a half percent. Labor says no, that’s not good enough. We want to make sure that Aussies can retire with enough money and make sure they don’t retire in poverty.
STEFANOVIC: So, you want it to get to 15 per cent?
CLARE: Eventually, it needs to get there. That’s what Keating has called for. We’ve got legislation that takes to 12, the long-term ambition needs to be 15.
STEFANOVIC: Just onto this gas, the new gas fired power station. This announcement is going to be made by the Prime Minister today, Jason, and also the Government wants to under underwrite perhaps the construction of gas pipelines to feed a new hub. What’s your thoughts on this? And and do you take any issues with it?
CLARE: Well Pete, this Friday its seven years since this government was sworn in – seven years. And over that time, the price of gas has just gone up, hasn’t gone down. It’s cheaper to get Australian gas in Tokyo than it is in Sydney. So, if they’re going to do something to turn that around, good. But everything they’ve done, they’ve had 19 policies over seven years, has failed. You just had Matt Canavan on, they put in place these gas trigger which they’re saying now they want to beef up and extend. Over the last few years, they’ve never even pulled the trigger. There’s another thing in the paper today saying that the Prime Minister’s going to announce he wants to beef up the “use it or lose it” provisions to make sure companies that have access to gas actually take it out of the ground. That was their policy in 2013. And they still haven’t done anything about it. This is a government which is great at announcements, hopeless at delivery. As the late great Elvis Presley would say, a little less conversation, a little more action please. Let’s do something serious here to get gas prices down.
STEFANOVIC: Do you believe that there is an appetite to invest in non-renewables?
CLARE: I think there is, obviously. AGL is building a gas plant at Tomago. Gas is part of the solution here. It’s going to be part of the energy mix for a long, long time to come. But as you rightly pointed out to Matt Canavan a minute ago, I don’t think there’s a massive appetite there to invest in coal fired power. There is in gas, and there is certainly bucket loads in renewables. The key problem here has been politics. This issue has been poisoned by politics for the last decade. As long as I’ve been in Parliament, we’ve had both parties fighting about this. There needs to be a bit of common sense and a bit of working across the aisle to put together a policy which is going to provide a little bit more certainty for companies to invest.
STEFANOVIC: Is gas a replacement for coal?
CLARE: It’s a transition fuel. It’s part of it. But none of this is going to be done on its own. For a long time to come, it’s going to involve coal fired power stations, which in many parts of the country still have decades to run, its gas, particularly peaking, and its boosting renewables. It’s all three.
STEFANOVIC: And just a couple of quick ones before we go. Jason, some reports today about the HomeBuilder stimulus package. We see about nine and a half thousand jobs, maybe slightly more than that. A little short of expectations at this stage, I guess there’s a sense that more will come down the track, but what’s your thoughts on that?
CLARE: It just goes to show this government makes stuff up. They’ve been saying for months, including here on Sky that this package was going to keep hundreds of thousands of tradies in jobs. Now we find out that the Treasury, their own department, said that it’ll support less than 10,000 jobs. This is a government that just lies. They know that the scheme is not going to provide enough help to support all the tradies in this industry, and yet they go into Parliament, they go on to Sky News, and they say it’s going to save hundreds of thousands of jobs. The scheme is not doing enough, more is needed. They’re going to have to extend it in the Budget – not because it’s been a success, but because it’s too small and more is needed. But they’re going to need to do more than that, they’re going to need to invest in social housing and repairing social housing to keep tradies in jobs because at the moment they’re failing.
STEFANOVIC: Jason, just a quick one before you go. What were you doing this day 20 years ago?
CLARE: I was like most Aussies at home watching the opening ceremony on the telly, but I heard you mentioned Eric the Eel a minute ago.
STEFANOVIC: Eric Moussambani – great story.
CLARE: I think he was from Equatorial Guinea?
STEFANOVIC: Correct, yeah.
CLARE: He got a wildcard in. He’d never swum in an Olympic sized pool before, and I think in his heat, the other two blokes that were in his heat, got disqualified.
STEFANOVIC: That’s right. They did.
CLARE: For jumping the gun, and he swam all the way down to the other end of the pool and then desperately struggled to make it back to the hundred metre finish line,
STEFANOVIC: And the crowd was roaring!
CLARE: That’s right! All the Aussies in the crowd were on their feet. And that sums up for me what those Olympics were all about. Sydney was better, we were all a bit kinder and nicer.
STEFANOVIC: Goosebumps thinking about that, actually.
CLARE: Eric the Eel. That’s my story. I reckon that’s right up there.
STEFANOVIC: Jason Clare, good to get your thoughts. Thanks for joining us today. Cheers, mate.
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