Press Conference – Sydney – Tuesday 26 April 2022


SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison’s leadership; Coalition divisions on climate policy; Labor’s Powering Australia policy; Aged Care; Labor’s Pacific policy; Coal; Scott Morrison’s failure on vaccines and quarantine.
Thanks again for coming along. It’s great to be here with my friend and colleague, Chris Bowen. When Scott Morrison called this election, he said it wasn’t about him. It was about you. It is about you and how he’s failed you. How he failed you during the bushfires. How he failed you during the floods. How he failed you when you were locked down and failed to buy enough vaccines. How, even this year, he failed to buy enough RATs, and now he’s failed us on national security. It’s ironic that Scott Morrison is the bloke behind the ‘where the bloody hell are you’ TV ads, because that’s what Australians have been saying about him for the last three years on bushfires, floods, vaccines, RATs, and now the Solomon Islands. When we needed a leader, where the bloody hell were you? Scott Morrison is supposed to work for you. If you didn’t do your job, you’d be sacked by your boss. He’s not doing his job. And if he’s not doing his job, then it’s time to change to a leader who will.  Who will turn up, take responsibility and do the job. And that person is Anthony Albanese.

CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY: Well, thanks, Jason. And also on the weekend we’ve seen the Coalition of chaos on display on climate. On the weekend, we saw the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia support the Clean Energy Finance Corporation investing in coal. Is that government policy? Scott Morrison should clear that up today. The Deputy Prime Minister says it is. That will come as a considerable surprise for those people who care about the Clean Energy Finance Corporation investing in clean energy. And then yesterday we saw the candidate for Flynn say that the net zero commitment is no commitment at all. He called it ‘flexible’ said there was wiggle room said that it was simply in effect a vibe. Again, Scott Morrison has a job to do today. Is net zero a firm commitment of the government or is it simply a flexible guideline as the candidate for Flynn has said? The LNP on climate says one thing in Hinkler and another thing in Higgins. They say one thing in Queensland and another thing in Queen’s Park. They want to be on both sides of the street. Well, they can’t be on both sides of the street. The Labor Party, on the other hand, has one plan: announced on December the third, outlined in detail – a very comprehensive plan accompanied by the most comprehensive economic modeling that any opposition has ever released on any policy ever, not only economic modeling, but emissions modeling as well. All out there released by Anthony and I on December the third in full detail. And that policy is the policy we are taking to the Australian people. 

This policy, for example, in the safeguards mechanism makes it clear that we will take the government’s existing mechanism, which they designed, which applies to the 215 biggest emitters across the country and, as the Business Council of Australia suggested and supported by other business groups – the Australian Industry Group and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry – as the business community themselves asked for, to put the safeguards mechanism on a trajectory to net zero by 2050. That’s what Labour’s policy will do. We are very clear, no different number of facilities covered: 215 facilities covered by the government, 215 covered by us. Two thirds of the safeguards facilities are already committed to net zero by 2050. We’ll give them the policy certainty and framework to achieve that. We will provide, as this document says, tailored treatment for emissions intensive trade-exposed industries, this means that Australian industries won’t be impacted by a greater constraint than their competitors face. And as a result, while the government’s own modelling shows that coal will come under pressure from global markets, the independent modellers Reputex did not find any additional impacts from Labor’s policy on the operation of coal mines or indeed coal-fired power stations. All very clear in the documents. This is Labor’s policy. Meanwhile, we have this coalition of chaos. And also we have the LNP selling coal miners out. There’s only one party that can look coal miners in the eye and say we care about your working conditions and that’s our party. Barnaby Joyce and Scott Morrison have spent $300,000 of taxpayers money to undermine the wages and conditions of the mining sector. They wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars of money to ensure that casuals can be ripped off. Barnaby Joyce and the pretend coal miner, the cosplay coal miner Matt Canavan, has shown his side they are on and it is not the side of Australian workers, whether they be coal miners or anyone else. The only party with the same job, same pay policy is the alternative government. That’s what we’ll take to the election as we are taking our comprehensive climate change and energy policy – Powering Australia – to the election. And this is a policy which ensures that Australia will seize the jobs opportunity – the world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity. 604,000 jobs created, five out of six of them in Australia’s regions, which will power Australia into the future as we move to renewable economy. 

CLARE: Thanks, Chris.

JOURNALIST: On healthcare, have you modelled how many nurses you’re going to need to recruit from overseas to staff aged care homes 24/7?

CLARE: I think Albo made the point the other day that 80% of people who work in aged care at the moment are working part time. So there is a big opportunity here to get people working more hours – working full time. That’s true in nursing as much as it is in other parts of the caring workforce in aged care. We saw some of that during the pandemic, where we were able to bring back doctors and nurses who’d been retired. So a big part of that – a big part of this policy is getting Australian nurses and Australian carers into this. Now part of it will involve bringing people from overseas, that’s what it involves at the moment. But a big part of this is training Aussies, that’s why we’ve said and we said this, I think it was only a day or two, Chris, after you announced your climate change policy, we need to skill Australians up for the jobs of the future. That’s extra places at university and it’s free places at TAFE. Most Aussies watching this would think to themselves, if there are skill shortages here in Australia, that we’re bringing people in from overseas to do the job, why aren’t we training Australians to do that work? We’ve had two years during the pandemic where people haven’t come from overseas, where you would think that people in Canberra and people right across the country should be working on how we train Aussies to do those jobs. We haven’t done a good enough job of that. We haven’t used the last two years wisely to do that. And we will do that if we’re honoured to win the election.

JOURNALIST:  And this is part of your policy is bringing from overseas. I am asking, how many? And have you modelled it? And how long would it go on for?

CLARE: And I’ve given you the answer. 

JOURNALIST: I haven’t heard it? 

CLARE: Well, well go back and check the transcript.

JOURNALIST: Have you modelled it? Have you modelled how many?

CLARE: What I have said is that a big part of it will be training up Australians and this is how we’ll do it through universities and through TAFE. Part of it will also, inevitably, as is always the case, bringing people from overseas as well.

JOURNALIST: How much of what Labor is proposing in terms of enhancing security in the Pacific is really new? For example, on boosting support for Pacific maritime security, it’s already funded at 12 million a year and it doesn’t expire till the end of June 2023 and all Labor is proposing is extending that funding. So isn’t it just a re announcement of an existing program?

CLARE: There is more to this announcement than just that. There’s the extra allocation of six and a half million over four years for the establishment of the Australian Pacific Defence School. There’s also the extra allocation of funds to the ABC that is something in the order, I think, of about $32 million over four years to expand its role in the Pacific as well. And Penny and Brendan and Kristina and Pat will have more to say about what that package involves in about two and a half hours time. So stay tuned on that front. I’d make the general point though, Scott Morrison has dropped the ball in the Pacific. He had the intel and he didn’t act. He had the intel and he didn’t act. And as a result, Australia is less safe today than it was a couple of weeks ago, because the Chinese have slipped in because he failed to act. He should have picked up the phone and spoken to the Solomon Islands. It’s not hard to pick up the phone and talk to them. He made 50 phone calls to get Mathias Cormann the job at the OECD talking to European leaders, but he couldn’t pick up the phone to talk to the Solomon Islands when they were on the verge of signing a security pact with China. And you’ve got the Foreign Minister of Australia hiding under her desk with the phone pulled out. And they send some bloke called Zed. Who is Zed? Is this Pulp Fiction or national security? Seriously, the only thing they could have done worse is send Peter Dutton to the Pacific because we all know what they think of Peter Dutton after the jokes he told a couple of years ago. This government has tried to bodgie up some sort of fake khaki election to camouflage for all of their incompetence. And now it turns out, they’re incompetent at this too.

JOURNALIST: Scott Morrison has described your plan as (inaudible) and in particular the claim to boost funding to the ABC. What’s your response to that?

CLARE: Well, it just goes to show just how out of touch with this bloke is. If you want to build trust in the Pacific, you got to do a lot more than just play the ukulele.

JOURNALIST: Mr. Bowen, I was going to ask you, if you were to become climate minister, and coal exports and use in Australia did not decline, would you consider that to be a failure?

BOWEN: Well, thanks for the question, Nick. But I’ve been very clear from the first day I became climate shadow minister in January last year that those decisions will be determined by and large by the coal market around the world. You refer to coal exports, those decisions are made in the boardrooms of our major trading partners. I’ve been very clear too, that 80% of them are committed to net zero by 2050. That’s going to have an impact on our market. We have to be honest with people about that. That’s what the government’s own modeling finds out as well. Hang on, I haven’t finished. And then secondly, there’s Australian energy production. Under our plan, we get to 82% renewables by 2030. That’s all outlined in the document. That’s what we’ll be implementing. And I’ll be reporting annually to Parliament in terms of progress, as we announced on December the third,

JOURNALIST: Does that not necessarily mean, then, that coal use in Australia must decline?

BOWEN: Well, I’ve also been very clear that coal fired power stations will be closing under governments of either persuasion as they are now. And they won’t and they won’t be replaced by new coal fired power under us. Under the government in Queensland, they say they will be replaced by coal fired power in Collinsville. In Victoria, they say they won’t be. So that’s a matter for the government. Our position is very clear. We’ll get to 82% renewables by 2030 in the National Energy Market, because we need a renewable economy. 

JOURNALIST: And nothing you do will drive down coal use or exports?

BOWEN: Our policy brings on new renewable investment by Rewiring the Nation, upgrading our energy grid to get renewable energy from where it’s produced to where it’s consumed. That gets us to 82% renewables in our National Energy Market by 2030.
JOURNALIST: You said there won’t be any disadvantage to any Australian coal exporters or miners? Well, they won’t be disadvantaged any further than peer nations around the world. But IPCC detail – the IPCC standard suggests that Australia needs to reduce its emissions faster. Does your policy take that into account?

BOWEN: Well, our policy does take it into account because we’re reducing emissions by 43% by 2030, as opposed to 26 to 28%, which is government’s target.

JOURNALIST: Faster than other nations, though. 

BOWEN: 43% is our target because we’re starting in 2022. I read your article the other day, Nick – good article, didn’t agree with all of it. But, you know, very thorough. But I make this point: we’re starting in 2022, that’s 92 months to 2030. We have a lot of catching up to do as a country. We’ve got nine years of denial and delay to catch up on. If we were starting in 2013 or 2016, or 2019, maybe it’d be different. We’re saying 2022 – 43% is ambitious in 92 months, but achievable. And more than that, it’s more than a target, it’s a target with teeth because we explain how we’ll do it. Every single policy outlined in the most comprehensive climate change policy by far of any party in this election, modelled both in terms of economic impact and emissions. You won’t hear Mr. Morrison saying ‘what’s the cost of Labor’s policy’, because he won’t like the answer: 604,000 jobs created, power bills down investment, up all due to Powering Australia.

JOURNALIST: On coal mines, they’re already assessed on the economics and the environment. At the NSW they’re overwhelmingly approved. So isn’t your climate policy on coal just sticking with the status quo?

BOWEN: Well, you’ve just answered your own question on state approvals. And we’ve said very clearly… Well, sorry. You asked the questions. I answered them, you don’t answer them. So our policy will get us to 82% renewables in the system. That’s what changes.

JOURNALIST: Is Labor’s climate policy dictated by the need to defend a handful of seats or capture a handful of seats in and around the Hunter Valley and Gladstone?

BOWEN: Labor’s climate policy is determined by the science and the economics. That’s what determines our climate policy, unlike the government, which is running around saying one thing in Queensland and other thing Queen’s Park. Our policy, which I sell in regional Queensland and I sell in Sydney and I sell in Melbourne, because it’s a good policy which stands up to scrutiny anywhere in Australia, anywhere in Australia, in the Hunter Valley, in inner Melbourne, and inner city, this stands up to scrutiny, because it’s designed to reduce emissions, increase jobs and reduce power bills.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) concession that you don’t have enough workers. Is that true for your policies?

CLARE: Well, Greg Hunt is going out the door. Looking backwards, he should think about the failures of this government on healthcare, not just the strangling of Medicare, making it harder to see a doctor in the bush and more expensive to see a doctor in the cities, but also their abject failure to buy enough vaccines for Australians during the teeth of the pandemic. Now, Chris, and I know this better than probably anybody else, representing places like Bankstown and Auburn and Fairfield.  These are the places that got locked down harder than anywhere else, where it was against the law to step off the driveway after nine o’clock at night, where there were police, where there were army, where there were helicopters, where there weren’t enough vaccines, where we were locked down longer than we needed to be, longer than we should have been, because of this government’s failures – not just in quarantine, where a virus that hit first in Bondi made its way to Bankstown, then Fairfield then out to Ed Husic’s electorate at Blacktown. But because they didn’t buy enough vaccines. Chris is here in his current capacity as the Shadow Minister for Climate Change, but not so long ago, you were the Shadow Minister for Health. And it was Chris Bowen who was saying to Scott Morrison in the parliament, you need to order more vaccines from more companies. If they had done that, just think how much shorter that lockdown would have been. How fewer Australians would have died and got sick in the teeth of that pandemic? 

So I bring you back to where I started: Scott Morrison has failed Australians. He failed us during the bushfires by going off to Hawaii when half the country was on fire. He failed us during the floods when people had to climb on their own roof and hire their own helicopter because he didn’t act fast enough. He failed us during the pandemic by not ordering enough vaccines. He failed us again this year when food was going off the shelf at Woolies and Coles and Aldi by not ordering enough RATs so truck drivers couldn’t go to work. And he’s failed Australians again on the Solomon Islands. We are less safe today than we were a couple of weeks ago because of Scott Morrison’s failure. And Australians, as they start thinking about who they’re going to vote for in just over three weeks time, I think will ask themselves: does this bloke really deserve to be rewarded with their vote? Thanks very much.