Television Interview - Sunrise

17 Jun 2022
Prime Minister

NATALIE BARR, HOST: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese joins me now. Good morning, Prime Minister.


BARR: Power companies have really held this country for ransom this week, haven’t they? We are all going to pay the price down the track. What are you going to do to make sure this never happens again?

PRIME MINISTER: Well we’re going to make sure that Australia has an energy policy, that would be a start. What we're paying for here is 10 years of delay and denial. We haven’t had the investment go into the energy sector that is needed because we haven’t had the investment certainty that businesses require. And that’s why yesterday, we announced, or signed, the pledge that we have for our Powering Australia plan that will drive that new investment in energy, and that is why it has been supported by the Business Council of Australia, The Australian Industry Group, the National Farmers’ Federation, as well as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the ACTU. People want an end to the nonsense that has gone on for the last decade, you can’t fix 10 years of inaction in just 10 days. But we are taking immediate action through AEMO to make sure that the lights stay on, but the same time, we are making sure that create that investment environment to make sure we get it right.

BARR: So, I think people are wondering what happens immediately, what happens on Monday? What are you doing immediately to make sure the lights stay on? We know there is a long-term plan and a medium-term plan, but are we in for a winter where we’ve got these huge problems?

PRIME MINISTER: Well the Australian Energy Market Operator have intervened with our support. They’ve suspended the operation of the market to make sure they are directing companies to essentially supply what is needed. But there is an issue out there of supply. It is no good gilding the lily and pretending that that hasn’t happened. And it can’t be just fixed overnight, but what we’re doing is taking the immediate action to assist households and businesses through the Australian Energy Market Operator using the tools which are at its disposal.

BARR: So if the energy market operator has, they’re going to compensate the big energy generators, aren’t they? Won't we have to pay for the down the line as consumers?

PRIME MINISTER: Well we’re paying for 10 years of inaction, that’s what’s happening, Nat.

BARR: We know that, unfortunately, this has landed in your lap.

PRIME MINISTER: That is what is happening.

BARR: And look, we all know. We know you can’t fix it in two weeks, no-one is expecting that, but it’s landed in your lap. So, now the regulators had to step in and compensate all these big companies, everyone just wants to know what is happening now. Will we have to pay higher bills because they are compensated?

PRIME MINISTER: I have told you what's happening now, Nat. We are paying higher bills because of this Government’s failure, the former Government’s failure to act. That is happening now. Our power bills are higher than they should be because there is an issue with supply. We haven’t had any of the investment that is required into new energy. And when we’ve had that new energy, we haven’t fixed the transmission grid. So it won’t plug-in essentially, it is not fit for the 21st century. And that’s is why AEMO have taken this immediate action. It is no good me standing here, Nat, and saying there aren’t issues, because there are. We are facing them, we are dealing with the immediate consequences, as well as making sure we actually fix the problems which are there.

BARR: So, I suppose people are thinking, what do we do now in the future? Are you going to give people rebates?

PRIME MINISTER: Sorry Nat, my audio has gone.

BARR: We will see if the audio director can sort that out. Can you hear me, Prime Minister? I'm so sorry about this. We'll see if we can get someone to flick a switch. Not the power in this case, I think it is just audio.

PRIME MINISTER: I think this is the time if you can hear me, you go to an ad break.

BARR: I'm terribly sorry. Obviously an audio problem. I think we will go to the news.

Let go back to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. We apologise, we understand a battery died on your earpiece so I’m very sorry about that.

PRIME MINISTER: It was a power outage from Channel 7 there, Nat.

BARR: I am very sorry because that is what I wanted to ask you.

PRIME MINISTER: That was also not the new Government's fault.

BARR: I know, you are being blamed for everything right now. So, that is what I want to ask you about. As far as helping us get more power on the grid, in a renewable sense, do you give rebates for batteries attached to solar power, like I think South Australia has been doing? Do you start building windfarms? What exactly do you do right now?

PRIME MINISTER: Well it’s a full suite of measures. The first thing you need to do is fix the grid so that renewables can fit in and be part of transmission. And then you need storage, we have a plan for community batteries, we have a plan for increasing storage in the system. Our plan will see some $52 billion of private sector investment over coming years into new energy. All that business have been saying is that they just want that investment certainty. I was in Gladstone just a couple of days ago. Rio Tinto are Australia's largest energy users and the Alumina Factory there is looking at being powered by solar and wind with gas to ensure that there’s back up there as well. But they are looking at billions of dollars of investment. And what they said to me, the CEO Kelly Parker, and others, is that they’ve just have been waiting for that investment certainty. Because that investment is a 20-year investment that pays a return. Because once you invest that capital money in the upgrade, it is like the same principle of why people put solar panels on their roofs. Once you make that outlay, then energy becomes cheaper in the future, and then you become so competitive. So if we get this right, this could be an opportunity to drive new jobs, new industries. Our plan will see some 604,000 new jobs created, five out of every six in regional Australia. But we need to get on with it. And what we’ve have had over the last 10 years is we haven’t had that energy policy framework to drive that investment.

BARR: So, how long before you cannot be telling people in Australia’s largest cities that we have to not put the dishwasher on until after 8:30pm and turn off the porch lights?

PRIME MINISTER: Well we are ready to go. We’ve got the announcement that we made yesterday, we have signed the pledge, business want that certainty going forward. We will introduce the legislation when Parliament sits in July. It does not actually need legislation in terms of, we are getting on with it regardless through the change they we have made. And business will get on with it once they have that certainty but we need to end the argy-bargy and the arguments over this. We know that there is nothing to have stopped right now investment in, for example, a new coal-fired power plant, except the market. That is why it hasn't happened. So, you have old coal-fired power plants where we have 25 per cent of the east coast market is out because it is old or because it hasn’t been maintained properly. It is reaching the end of life. So we need new investment in the system and the cheapest form of new investment is clean energy.

BARR: Yes, and business is ready to go. Prime Minister, we thank you very much for your time and we apologise for the battery issue.

PRIME MINISTER: No worries, Nat. Good to be with you.