Doorstop – Launching ‘Making Headlines’ By Chris Mitchell

Transcript
30 Sep 2016
Sydney
Prime Minister
E&OE

PRIME MINISTER:

What a great book by an editor in love with journalism - not everyone is of course but Chris Mitchell is and he evokes a passion and a romance for his profession and I think it’s good to see that, it’s good to see that enthusiasm and passion. Now do you have any questions today?

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister you made some comments yesterday about states needing to dump aggressive renewable energy targets and focus instead on energy security. What has forced this change in position?

PRIME MINISTER:

I’ve been very consistent on these energy issues throughout my career in politics. You've got to take ideology out of it. You've got to work out what you want to achieve and then make sure that your measures will deliver that for you. You heard Dan Andrews, the Victorian Premier on the radio this morning - his state has about 14 per cent or a bit less renewable power. He has a near-term target of 40 per cent, renewables. He was asked twice how he was going to reach it. Fran Kelly asked him that, he couldn't answer the question, because it is just a political target that was designed to send a political message. We cannot play politics or ideology with energy security. The Government's job is to keep the lights on. The Government's job is to secure our energy supplies. We need that for every element of our lives. So, do we want to cut emissions? Yes, we do. Do we want to encourage renewable energy? Yes, we do. Do we want to have energy security? Of course. Do we want to have affordable energy? Of course. You've got to make sure that your plan achieves all that. What Labor states have done is they’ve ignored the need to keep the lights on, they’ve ignored the need to keep energy affordable and they've come up with these very political targets. The time has come, it is a wake-up call for all of the jurisdictions in Australia to settle on a single renewable target. We have a federal target. They should get behind that. There are enough challenges in meeting that, let's get behind that and we know we can deliver energy security, affordability and of course in accordance with our commitments reduce our emissions.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister what are your thoughts on Wyatt Roy's trip to Iraq?

JOURNALIST:

You’ve previously said it was very stupid.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you, for reminding me. It wasn't so long ago that I said that. You're right, it was stupid, it was foolish of him to ignore the Government's advice not to travel to that part of the world and I want to encourage every Australian, any Australian, to always scrupulously follow the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

JOURNALIST:

On a unified national renewable energy target - would that mean raising the target overall?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we have a target that goes to 2020 which equates to about 23.5 per cent and we've got a way to go to get there, so as I said it is achievable, but it is not an insignificant challenge to get there. So we should focus on that. Some of these state schemes which are so ambitious and so ill-thought out are actually distorting the clean energy investment market and being quite counterproductive. They serve a political purpose, but they don't have an effective role in cutting emissions and they certainly undermine or have the potential to undermine network security.

PRIME MINISTER:

Prime Minister - as a member of the New South Wales Liberal Party, what do you make of Mike Baird's insistence of banning greyhound racing from July next year?

PRIME MINISTER:

That is a state matter and it is a matter for Mr Baird. I'm not going to give him - Mike and I often talk about state issues and indeed federal issues, but when he gives me advice on federal issues, he generally does so privately and I return the courtesy on state issues.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister you talked in the launch about post-truth politics. Is there any truth to the claim that renewables had any part in the power outage in South Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

Now the power- now I've been quite consistent in recognising that the power outage in South Australia, the blackout was caused by a massive storm disrupting, knocking over important transmission assets and that's quite clear. Having said that, this does bring to the forefront energy security issues and it is particularly pertinent in South Australia where they have got a very large dependence on an intermittent renewable, that is to say wind. They have the highest wholesale power prices in Australia and you've heard from the head of the Chamber of Commerce in South Australia, their concerns in a state with relatively low unemployment, where they desperately need more investment to drive jobs - how do you do that when you have got the most expensive electricity around the country? So it is important to focus on your priorities. Energy security -absolutely key, keep the lights on. Affordability - energy has to be affordable so people can manage their cost of living, businesses can invest knowing that that critical input is going to be affordable. And of course we've got to achieve our emission reduction targets. Now we have a whole set of measures federally which will do that and what we're saying is that all jurisdictions - state and territories and the Commonwealth - should be sitting down agreeing on one approach which will ensure that we maintain energy security and affordability.

I will just leave you with this thought that the Premier of Victoria, when he was asked, twice, how will you reach your 40 per cent target? He just waffled, he had nothing to say. He could not set out any particular road map. He talked airily about innovation and about technology, but he had no road map that he could lay out. Now he has got a long way to go. Queensland has got an even further way to go, and you see, this is the point - the reality check that we've had with South Australia, we've got to make sure you keep the lights on. Keep the lights on - that's the duty of governments. Also cut emissions, maintain affordable levels of energy supply, all of that has to be done together. OK.

JOURNALIST:

The Fair Work Commissioner has suggested -

PRIME MINISTER:

I thought you were going to ask me about the football. Just if you doubt it, I'm backing the Swans, naturally - it's my team - tomorrow, and in the NRL, I just have to - I've reflected on it because the Roosters are not playing, of course - I've reflected on it and given the importance of managing the economy and budget repair, I've decided in solidarity with the Treasurer I will be backing the Sharks.

Thanks very much.