Transcript of interview with Brig and Lehmo, Gold FM Melbourne
THU 09 AUGUST 2012
Subject(s): London Olympics; Power prices; National Broadband Network
E & O E – PROOF ONLY
HOST: Well Brig there’s a lot of talk about rising electricity prices so we have decided to go straight to the top and speak to the Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Good morning.
PM: Good morning.
HOST: Now, can I start by saying Prime Minister magnificent work with Will Ferrell the other night on The Project.
PM: Thank you very much, truly terrifying as an interviewer.
HOST: Indeed, did you pass your advice onto Tim and did Tim agree that you gave Will Ferrell the best advice?
PM: I think Tim was very happy with that advice. Many hairdressers around the nation would quite like it too.
HOST: He actually does have bad hair, Will Ferrell, I’ve noticed that too myself. Now Prime Minister, you look quite fresh from your holiday, obviously you had a fabulous time?
PM: We did have a fabulous time. Tropical North Queensland, let me just talk it up for a winter break, we had a great time. So a few day off, a very nice way of refreshing and back into it, raring to go, lots of work to do.
HOST: Indeed, and before we get down to business we need to ask, the Olympic Games, are you loving it?
PM: I am loving it. I’m particularly loving it when we’ve got performances like Nathan and Iain to celebrate, so we’re having a pretty good week of it.
HOST: Yeah absolutely. Now down to business as Lehmo suggested, Prime Minister. Electricity prices – it’s all people are talking about at the moment in the streets.
What do you say to them? People who are finding it hard to make ends meet – how do you explain it to them?
PM: I can understand it’s what people are talking about. When we look round the country people have had 50 per cent increases in electricity prices over the last four years. That’s before you get to carbon pricing.
So people are talking about carbon pricing – I understand that, and that is bringing a 10 per cent increase in electricity prices, and people are getting tax cuts and family payment increases and pension increases to help them with that.
But people have already seen a 50 per cent increase and they’re thinking to themselves, gee, how can this keep going on? If it keeps going on at this rate, the power price rises, how am I going to keep paying my bills?
Now there’s a lot of complex factors at work here, but amongst them include the fact that there’s an incentive now to just keep investing in poles and wires, more investment, more investment, more investment than we need, because that boosts up state government dividends from the electricity assets that they own.
So I want to get some action to fix some of these problems of regulation, to make sure that when prices get determined next year we don’t see the same sort of price escalations for the next four or five years that we’ve seen for the past four or five.
And with all of the Federal Government-state government exchanges here, it’s pleasing to see that today from New South Wales and Queensland there’s a bit of movement, and I want to turn that movement into action.
HOST: I can’t think of anything else that’s risen as much in price as electricity over the last four years, as you mentioned a 50 per cent increase, who is making the money, because someone’s got to be making out with a lot of cash here.
PM: State governments, the ones that own electricity assets, have been making some money out of it.
So take New South Wales, prices have gone up 70 per cent over the last four years and dividends to the state government have gone up 60 per cent over that period, so there is some money being made.
There are complicated issues here. We’ve got to get reliability right – we all want the power to be there when we flick on the light switch.
We are replacing some ageing infrastructure, but the experts in the area tell us that we are investing now in a way that means $11 billion of investment is to deal with the peak demand that we see on a very limited number of days of the year and there are better ways that we can address that so that we don’t have to see some of that over-investment which then flows through to the prices you pay in your power bill.
HOST: Well I absolutely know that everyone listening to this today wants these price rises to electricity to stop, so whatever it takes you would no doubt have the support of everyone listening.
Now the NBN, we should ask about that as well. We’re reading today that there’s been a price blowout and they’ve added a few months to the time it’s going to take to finish.
I was surprised to read that the NBN’s fitting our six houses a day according to a story I read today, which means we’ll roughly finish, I think, in about the year 2371. Which isn’t as quick as I’d hoped. No we thought it might be quicker. What’s the story there?
PM: Well I hope you are that long-lived, just in case you’re not you won’t have to worry about that.
There is a six-month delay, that’s because we took some time, the National Broadband Network Company, to come to an arrangement with Telstra which was a smart thing to do because it means the Telstra infrastructure – all of the places that the wires go through now – can be used by the NBN instead of digging out new trenches and the like.
So it was a smart thing to do, the deal, but it’s caused us the six month delay, but we’ll see the NBN going by 750,000 households by the end of the year, and the construction will just keep going in leaps and bounds from there.
HOST: Oh very nice, we don’t have to wait until 2371. Any spare cash floating round for the Western Bulldogs, Prime Minister? They’re struggling a bit at the moment.
PM: I’m not surprised you got that plug in. There’s some cheering going around, I will be there at the game on the weekend, and doing my best to urge the team on, particularly given Tim barracks for Richmond so I couldn’t bear it.
HOST: He’s a man of taste, Prime Minister. We’ll get on board this weekend. Alright, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, thank you for your time this morning.