Doorstop - Colongra, NSW

21 Dec 2022
Colongra, NSW
Prime Minister
Memorial Service of Constable Rachel McCrow and Constable Matthew Arnold; Renewable Energy; Rewiring the Nation Deal; Snowy 2.0; Cap on Coal Prices; Bail Laws; 50th Anniversary of China-Australia Diplomatic Relationship.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Can I just begin by saying that the Memorial Service conducted by the Queensland Police, that I attended this morning, was a solemn occasion. And I once again express, on behalf of all Australians, our sense of grief and loss at the loss of Matthew Arnold and Rachel McCrow, two Queensland Police officers who were doing their job. This tragedy has impacted all members of the police force including, I'm sure, here in New South Wales and throughout the country. The tributes were ones that I will never forget this morning. I also, of course, pay tribute to Alan Dare, a neighbour who did the great Australian thing and went to help on the basis that he heard something was going on and as a result was also murdered in this atrocity. So today is a day which is very difficult for every Australian police officer and for their families. And I once again offer my sincere condolences, as I was able to do this morning, to the Arnold and McCrow families this morning.

Today, this is a very big announcement. And I'm very pleased to be here with the Premier, with the New South Wales Treasurer and with my Energy Minister as well. This shows the effort that we've gone to in the National Cabinet to bring the country together, to make sure that we work hand in hand to overcome the difficulties that have arisen from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And today's announcement is about the medium term. We have addressed short term issues with price caps on gas and on coal. But in the medium and long term we need to make sure we transition to a clean energy economy. And our Rewiring the Nation program, our $20 billion program to fix transmission and bring it into the 21st century, is central to that task. I want to work with state and territory governments right across the country to deliver on that transition. Today's announcement will help this area in the Hunter become a Renewable Energy Zone as a superpower. Today, we announced a landmark deal to connect New South Wales Renewable Energy Zones, as well as plugging Snowy 2.0 into the grid, bringing it into the 21st century, creating thousands of jobs, boosting economic activity, whilst also lowering power prices by having a more efficient energy system. This is one of eight programs that we agreed to fund with $4.7 billion from our Rewiring the Nation program, together with the $3.1 billion contributed from the New South Wales program. This is the Sydney Ring, Hunter Transmission Project, Central West Orana Renewable Energy Zone, New England Renewable Energy Zone, Hume Link, VNI West, Hunter Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone, Sydney Ring - Southern Sydney Ring and the South West Renewable Energy Zone. Together this is about the transformation of not just New South Wales but the entire East Coast energy network. We're working in Queensland to boost through their program, particularly focused on Central Queensland. This is an exciting project here, but it's exciting what we're doing right around the country. And I do want to thank the Premier for the cooperation. I also want to acknowledge the support of people across the political spectrum in the New South Wales Parliament. Chris Minns the Labor Leader, as well. Both sides of politics put through this legislation in an emergency sitting this morning. But what we're about here is the medium-term transition that Australia needs.

DOMINIC PERROTTET, PREMIER OF NEW SOUTH WALES: I'll also begin by extending our condolences to Matthew and Rachel's family and also Alan's family. It was a very moving tribute this morning. And in the New South Wales Parliament we also led a condolence motion for those families. Police officers right around our country, those in New South Wales but everywhere, do an amazing job every single day, putting their life on the line to keep our community safe. What we saw in Queensland was horrendous and tragic. And our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and all our police officers. And can I say to all police officers around New South Wales, around the country, we thank you for your service. We thank you for your service and that generosity of spirit that you have every single day putting your life on the line to keep our community safe. I echo the Prime Minister's comments in relation to Alan, the fact that people leave their own security and safety to look after others is a wonderful thing about our country and it's something that we should all come together and be very proud of today in what is a very difficult circumstance.

But today, here on energy, as the Prime Minister said, in the New South Wales Parliament - I understand it's still being debated in the Legislative Council, but it will pass. This bill passed the Legislative Assembly, and that comes off the back of the National Agreement. And I want to thank the Prime Minister, the Climate Change Minister and Energy Minister in Chris Bowen, and my Treasurer, Matt Kean, for the constructive discussions we have had in getting here today. This is focused, today in the Parliament, on putting downward pressure on household bills right across New South Wales. The coal cap, which we legislated, we know will do that. The Commonwealth modelling has over a $200 reduction to household bills over the next year and that's an incredibly positive thing. And I want to thank all Members of Parliament for the constructive way in which the bill was dealt with in the emergency sitting that we had in the New South Wales Parliament this morning. Ultimately, we need to focus on the short term, the medium and the long term. Today's legislation will ensure that households across New South Wales will be better off next year in difficult circumstances arising out of the illegal war in the Ukraine. In addition to that, we also have our own support packages for low income households across New South Wales, over $300 million in support. And I want to thank the Federal Government for their additional national one and a half billion dollar package, which New South Wales will tap into to provide further relief for household budgets and for small businesses across our state. We know it's a difficult time, and I think the country coming together to deal with this across party political lines shows the maturity that we have to make sure we're putting people first, not playing politics and getting to a point where households and businesses across our state are in a much better position in what will be a difficult time with rising electricity prices. But ultimately, as well as right here today, the $7.8 billion investment from the Commonwealth and state governments working together will drive our energy future here in our state. This support for transmission will make a real difference. This is the future. We're moving to a cleaner energy future. And the Treasurer will speak to you about our Renewable Energy Zones, which we've established, which put downward pressure on prices, but ultimately as well secure our energy for the future, not just in the medium term, but for generations to come. This is the planning, this is the construction, this is the investment that will come when you have governments putting in at a state and Commonwealth level, public investment, unlocking around 30 billion dollars in private investment. But ultimately at the end of it, what will we have? Energy security in the long term and, as well, lower pressure on prices in the short term. That's what today's announcement is all about. That's what we achieved in the New South Wales Parliament today. And this announcement today in investing in that infrastructure will make a difference for generations to come.

CHRIS BOWEN, MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY: Well, thanks, Prime Minister. Thanks Premier. We will only achieve our ambitious plan to reduce our emissions by 43 per cent and get 82 per cent renewables across their energy system by governments working together, governments of good faith and good will working together. And that's exactly what we're doing today. There's no transition without transmission. And Renewable Energy Zones are very important. But as everybody would agree, they only work if we connect them to the cities and the big industrial parks where the energy will be used and that's exactly what we're doing today. This announcement means that transmission across New South Wales will become a reality more cheaply than it otherwise would, and with much more certainty for planners, for the energy companies, that we can provide the certainty that these transmission lines will be built with the support of the Commonwealth and state balance sheets. Important things like the Prime Minister said: HumeLink and VNI West, connecting Snowy 2.0 to the grid, both the New South Wales Grid and the Victorian Grid, HumeLink will connect it to New South Wales, VNI will connect it to Victoria, which comes on top of the announcement that the Prime Minister and I made with Tasmania and Victoria a few weeks ago about the arrangements with them. So this is really important. A project like Snowy 2.0 can make a big difference. We've always said it's a good project. It will make no difference unless it's connected to the grid. It's got to be plugged in and that's exactly what we're doing today. What we are doing today unleashes $12 billion worth of market value, billions of dollars worth of private sector investment, as well as the Commonwealth investment and state government investment today. It will ensure that the regions that have powered Australia for so long, just like the Hunter Valley, will continue to power Australia into the future. It will be renewable energy, it will be jobs rich, but it will be in the same areas that have powered Australia for so long and so well. And of course, this comes after our recent announcements. Two days ago, I declared Australia's first offshore wind zone, supporting the Victorian government's very ambitious offshore wind strategy in Gippsland. A couple of weeks ago, Matt and I and every state and territory Energy Minister agreed to the Capacity Investment Mechanism, which will unleash at least six gigawatts worth of renewable energy capacity and at least $10 billion of investment, almost certainly much, much more than that. This is what a government getting on with the job looks like; day by day implementing the plans we sought the approval of the Australian people for, getting on with the job of 43 per cent emissions reduction. I want to thank Matt in particular for his very strong interaction and negotiations over many weeks to make this deal a possibility. Working through all the details, through many phone calls and many face to face meetings to deliver for the people of New South Wales and Australia. And that's exactly what we're doing today.

MATT KEAN, NEW SOUTH WALES TREASURER: Without wanting to turn this into a love-in myself, I just want to thank Minister Bowen for his outstanding leadership in landing this deal that is in the interests of the people of New South Wales and certainly in the interests of all electricity consumers across the nation. So the Prime Minister, Mr Bowen - thank you for your leadership, and the Premier and I have been delighted to work with you on this. Look, it's terrific to be here today at the site of the old Lake Munmorah power station, where we're building the biggest network battery anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere, for this announcement that will set this state up and secure our energy supply for generations to come. I'm so proud that New South Wales is leading the nation when it comes to rolling out renewable energy, ensuring that we get the cheapest electricity, but also the cleanest and most reliable. And that's exactly what this deal today will deliver. This $8 billion investment will unlock not only the opportunity to connect our Renewable Energy Zones into the electricity grid, but it will plug Snowy 2.0 in as well, fast tracking critical transmission infrastructure that will keep the lights on and drive electricity prices down, not only now, but for generations to come. This is a game changer here. It will ensure New South Wales gets the cheapest electricity, the most reliable electricity, and also the cleanest electricity. That's great for households, but it's even better for businesses in the industry, particularly heavy industry, that will be relying on that clean, cheap, reliable electricity to produce the products, the low carbon products, that the rest of the world is demanding right now. This $8 billion will unlock eight critical transmission infrastructure projects right around New South Wales. It will create thousands of jobs. It will support the delivery of 3,900 jobs here in New South Wales, and it will unlock the opportunity to deliver $32 billion worth of private capital that will deliver new generation storage and firming over the next decade. This is an absolute game-changer for New South Wales. It will ensure that we are the renewable energy superpower of the nation. Not only now, but we're creating the running that the rest of the states can only dream of catching up to. So thank you again, Prime Minister. Thank you, Minister Bowen. We're thrilled at this announcement that will ensure that New South Wales continues to lead the way when it comes to delivering cheap, reliable and clean electricity.

JOURNALIST: For people who are getting their bills, how will this make their bills cheaper and when will they see the benefits of what's happening today?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, what we have is a short term plan to deal with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And that consists of two measures: the price cap on gas and the price cap on coal, set at $12 and $125, respectively. But we also have one and a half billion dollars, which will work with New South Wales and other states to provide relief for both households and also for small business. What today is about is looking beyond the next few months of how we transition to a clean energy future, how we bring the grid into the 21st century. Today's announcement is about more secure, more reliable, more affordable energy for New South Wales and for the entire East Coast. It will make an enormous difference. This is one of the biggest announcements that will be made in my Prime Ministership, or Dom's Premiership or Chris or Matt, however long we're around for. This is a very, very big deal of putting transmission into the 21st century. And that's what it's about. You can't solve, immediately, after 10 years of inaction, denial, and delay when it came to the Federal Government not working with state governments. New South Wales, to their credit, have been taking action for some time, so has Victoria, so has South Australia. What we had was that there wasn't a partnership and any national leadership. Now you have a Federal Government that's prepared to work with state and territory governments right around the country, put aside politics and say: how do we get things done in the interests of our population and our people and our businesses, and how do we then use that clean cheap energy to make more things here as well is the next step.

JOURNALIST: Can we expect to see a cash injection of the same amount going to Queensland for pumped hydro?

PRIME MINISTER: What we can see already is there will be announcements in Queensland, and we want to partner with Queensland. We have a $20 billion fund. We've already had announcements in Tasmania and in Victoria. We now have announcements in New South Wales. We'll have more to say in Queensland on working with Queensland, particularly with their program that they've already announced for Central Queensland

JOURNALIST: How important is it to get Snowy Hydro connected to the grid as well?

PRIME MINISTER: Dom will want to add to this, I'm sure, but I'll just say this. There is no point building a major source of power and not having it plugged into the grid. And what has happened here is all of this has been identified for some years by the Australian Energy Market Operator. There's an Integrated Systems Plan, it's all been there on the website, I announced Rewiring the Nation in my first budget reply back in 2020, more than two years ago. Why there wasn't any response to it before then is up to others to answer in terms of the former Minister Angus Taylor. Fortunately, I've got Chris Bowen, who actually drives through the change.

PREMIER PERROTTET: It's crucial. And that's what this announcement is all about today. Here in our state, we're looking at gas with Narrabri. This close to $8 billion investment is a game changer. So it states and territories working with the Commonwealth Government, everyone at National Cabinet is on a unity ticket. Every state has different energy needs and different energy sources. But working together through what's been a very complex issue over the last short period of time to be in a position where the nation has come together as one when it comes to energy, not just in the short term but in the medium and long term, it will make a real difference for generations to come. And that's what this is all about. I agree with the Prime Minister, there aren't many announcements that we make that are more important than this one today. This is billions of dollars going into transmission that will set up our energy future here in our state. And what the Prime Minister, Energy Minister is doing and other states as well, will bring them on the journey.

JOURNALIST: The legislation this morning provides for the state to take control of the state's coal supply and the set the price at however you feel and also to sell it to whoever you want. Is this quasi-nationalisation?

MINISTER KEAN: What we're doing is standing on the side of families and businesses, families and businesses who are going to be smashed because there's an illegal war in Ukraine at the moment. We are always going to stand by the people of this state. And that's why we've taken action, working with the Commonwealth Government to implement this solution. I mean, this is not a New South Wales problem. This is a national problem and it requires a national solution. And we've worked constructively with the Commonwealth to ensure we put in place measures that will put downward pressure on the proposed electricity bill increases that the AER has flagged for next year. So, again, the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government will do what it takes to protect consumers from these huge price spikes due to the illegal war in Ukraine.

JOURNALIST: Premier, you're a free markets kind of guy. This is very heavy handed intervention, taking control of a single industry.

PREMIER PERROTTET: I'm a free market guy, and also a practical guy too. And the reality is, we stand with households and families across New South Wales. No one foresaw an illegal invasion of Ukraine, which as put our families in New South Wales, our businesses in New South Wales, under extreme pressure with the rising cost of these bills. This isn't, and is made very clear in their legislation today, this isn't forever. This has to deal with the emergency that is right in front of us today, to deal with the short term issues that are facing families across New South Wales. And I know what families across New South Wales want, they want lower power bills to help them get through. And that's what we've delivered through the National Cabinet, all States and Territories working together. Now this is for 18 months. It's not forever. For eighteen months. We're going to get through this together as a state and as a country. And that's why, on the same day that we passed this legislation through which deals with the short term issue, we're here focused on the medium and long term. Because there's a long journey ahead and you can't do that if you haven't got a vision for the future, you don't put the billions of dollars in that will make a real difference. So the fact that you say I'm a free market guy and I'm supporting it must say something.


MINISTER KEAN: You're already seeing action right here at the Lake Munmorah Power Station. You're seeing the biggest battery in the Southern Hemisphere being delivered. That battery will free up capacity in our transmission infrastructure, ensuring that we're able to get more energy into the system and lower power bills. So this is just one of a number of projects. But because of today's announcement, we'll be getting cracking on fast-tracking the delivery of Hume Link. We will be fast-tracking the delivery of the Sydney Ring Interconnector. We will be fast tracking the delivery of Snowy 2.0. And, in fact, eight critical transmission infrastructure projects, which will bring online some of the cheapest, cleanest energy you'll find anywhere in the world as soon as possible. We need to get on with the job, because we know existing generation is coming to the end of its technical life. And the way you bring down energy bills is to get new supply into the system as soon as possible. And this transmission investment will do exactly that. Can I just address an issue with regard to Snowy 2.0. Snowy 2.0 will deliver 2,000 megawatts of dispatchable clean electricity. And the sooner we can get that into the system, the better off it will be, the more reliable the grid will be, the cheaper people's bills be. That's what our focus is. That's what the Albanese government's focus is. And I'm proud today that we're standing shoulder to shoulder to ensure get that electricity into the system as soon as possible.

MINISTER BOWEN: This enables us to get on with the job, as Matt said. These are big projects. And we're in a global race for for the wires, for the metals, for the resources. This enables companies to place their orders with certainty and it means that the Renewable Energy Zones can get on with the job and Orana in 2025 and the others rolling out can can be delivered. And, as we've said, deliver actual energy, actual watts, from Snowy 2.0. I mean, I'm not sure how other people thought the energy was going to get from Snowy 2.0 into the grid. Carrier pigeons, maybe, but it's got to be connected. And the beauty of Snowy 2.0 is it is renewable energy which is entirely dispatchable 24/7. Some people say renewables don't work at night. I confess, I don't have an engineering degree. But last time I checked, water can still run down a mountain in the evening. So Snowy 2.0 is very important for system reliability and grid reliability. But it's got to be connected and that's what we'll do.

JOURNALIST: Does this announcement have any impact on the delivery of Snowy 2.0 and when it's expected to be contributing to the grid?

MINISTER BOWEN: Separate but related issues, because Snowy 2.0 is running 18 months late. It continues to run around that amount of time late. Snowy Hydro and the government are working hard to try and get that 18 months back. But the situation when we came to office was that it was running 18 months for a range of reasons. But also, whenever it's finished, it's got to be connected. So we'll make sure whenever it's finished, it's able to be connected as quickly as humanly possible.

JOURNALIST: You've heard of the teacher out west. I know you can't talk about the case, but the accused was on bail. Is any indication that bail laws need to be reviewed?

PREMIER PERROTTET: We will look at that case, as we always do when these situations occur. It's obviously an incredibly tragic situation, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim's family. It's obviously before the courts. And whatever we can do, particularly in that space, we should and we will look at, particularly, some of those sites and ways in which we can work to improve situations like that. Tragic situations like that should never happen. The matter is before the courts, I don't want to comment on it. What I will say, though, is that once we are through that we will review that matter and make sure the appropriate action is taken.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, I know that's not a federal matter, but the person allegedly used a dating app -

PRIME MINISTER: I'm not going to comment on something I'm not aware of the details of. I'm not going to comment on things on the run. I lead a considered government that considers information, talks things through and comes up with decisions on that basis.

Can I just conclude with two points. One goes to whether this is ideological and free markets and all of that stuff. I make this point, in the United Kingdom, you have a far greater interventionist policy into the market than we're seeing here from Rishi Sunak's government. In Europe this week, the European Council across the board have come up with price caps as well. This is extraordinary measures required for extraordinary times, and I thank the New South Wales Premier and the Queensland Premier, and indeed the New South Wales Parliament who all across the board went along with this. That is a positive thing.

And just finally, today is the 50th anniversary of relations between Australia and China. Penny Wong is visiting China today and that is a very good thing. Out of dialogue comes understanding. And we need to have respectful relations. President Xi has written me a very warm letter congratulating Australia on the 50 year anniversary, in response to correspondence that I sent to President Xi. It is important that we deliver better relations with our major trading partner into the future. It's also about jobs and our economy and Australia's national interests being looked after. And I'm sure that Penny Wong has had a very successful visit to Beijing.