Doorstop with the Minister for the Environment and Energy, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP

Transcript
25 Oct 2017
The Baker at Sutton, NSW
Prime Minister, Minister for the Environment and Energy
National Energy Guarantee and AFP raids
E&OE
Environment and Energy, Economy and Finance

PRIME MINISTER:

Nick and his wife run a great Australian family business. A small business which has grown from Fyshwick to Sutton and he’s having great success because he’s investing in his business.

Nick you were saying that you have built this business up through your own retained earnings over the years?

NICK SMITH – THE BAKER AT SUTTON:

Yes that’s correct. Been working at it for about six, seven, eight years now.

PRIME MINISTER:

So what you make you’re putting back into the business.

NICK SMITH:

Yep, my word.

PRIME MINISTER:

And how many people do you employ now?

NICK SMITH:

Between the two shops, about 60.

PRIME MINISTER:

60 jobs. So this is a small family business that’s got 60 employees. That’s why we are so focused on backing business, backing Australian family businesses. That’s why we’ve brought down company tax for businesses like Nick’s, so he’s got more money after tax to invest back into his business and provide more jobs.

But a vital part too, of managing this business, is the cost of energy. 

Now Nick what are you spending on energy here, electricity?

NICK SMITH:

It’s about, on this site alone, it’s about $15,000 a quarter.

PRIME MINISTER:

Right, $15,000 a quarter - $60,000 a year. That’s a lot of money. It’s a big part of Nick’s overhead.

That’s why we have put out there a National Energy Guarantee plan. It’s been recommended to us by the Energy Security Board and they, the experts in this field, have said that this will reduce wholesale generation costs over the period to 2030 by 20-25 per cent, putting downward pressure on Nick’s bill, reducing the generation component.

And of course, we’re also taking the steps to ensure that people get on the right deal. So Nick will be able to go onto the Energy Made Easy website and see if he can get a better deal. He’s very alert to that, to constantly seeing, to making sure that he’s got the right deal.

You know, a big part of the cost for electricity is not just generation, the cost of actually making the electricity, we’ve got to get it to Nick. That requires all the poles and wires and the cost of those has been going up over the years, in particular, because the energy companies have been able to go to the courts to appeal the decisions of the energy regulator. That sort of gaming and using the legal system to jack up prices by over $6 billion in recent years, that’s been brought to an end because Josh has succeeded in persuading the Parliament to abolish those Limited Merits Reviews.

So right across the board – the National Energy Guarantee, what we’re doing on the cost of poles and wires, what we’re doing making sure people are getting on the right plans, what we’ve done to bring down the wholesale price of gas – everything is focused on supporting business, supporting families, supporting jobs.

That’s the big difference between our approach and that of Labor.

Labor does not have one policy that supports investment and supports employment. They do not have one policy that will bring down energy prices. In fact, every one of their policies as we know – and we know this from bitter experience – is calculated and designed to make energy more expensive and less reliable.

Australians can’t afford Labor’s continued undermining of business and enterprise.

Everything we’re doing is focused on supporting enterprise, investment and jobs. And as you’ve heard me say before, jobs and growth is not just a slogan, it’s an outcome. 371,000 created in the last year, 85 per cent of them full time. But that depends on economic policies that support business and it depends on affordable and reliable energy. That’s the plan we’ve set out. That’s what we’re delivering.

Now I’ll ask Josh, who is doing a great jobs as the Energy Minister, to say a bit more about the importance of affordable and reliable energy. Josh.

THE HON. JOSH FRYDENBERG MP – MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY:

Thanks Prime Minister and thanks Nick and thanks to your wife Louise for warmly welcoming us here to this wonderful bakery. Thank you for employing so many Australians. Skilled people doing wonderful things.

As the Prime Minister said, the National Energy Guarantee is a credible, workable, pro-market policy that is designed to get more reliable and affordable power.

Just in recent days, the Business Council of Australia representing over one million workers through the companies that make up its members, has written to the state premiers asking them to support the National Energy Guarantee, saying it provides the most workable and practicable solution forward for an effective energy policy in the country.

We also found out yesterday that the Labor Party’s policy of an emissions intensity scheme will lead to higher electricity prices, by around $200 whereas the National Energy Guarantee will lead to a saving of up to $115. That’s more than a $300 difference between the Coalition’s policy and the Labor Party’s policy.

As the Prime Minister said, that is just one component of the energy bill, on top of all the work we are doing to drive down gas prices, to rein in the power of the networks and to get millions of Australians a better deal from their retailer.

So lower power bills means more jobs. More jobs for the bakeries here. More jobs for the butchers. More jobs for the manufacturers, for the plastics and glass companies that we’ve visited in recent days.

Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER:

Great, thanks very much Josh and Nick. Any questions?

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, the AWU says that it has got records of the $100,000 donation to GetUp! that was made by the national executive in full accordance within the rules. Do you accept that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that’s really a matter for the Registered Organisations Commission. They’re investigating it and the AWU has got questions to answer.

Bill Shorten has questions to answer - why his union was making $100,000 donation to GetUp!, an organization I might say is opposed to more of the industries that employ members of the AWU. But those are questions for Mr Shorten to answer.

I just want to say the hysterical attack by Brendan O'Connor on the integrity of the Australian Federal Police is a disgrace. Bill Shorten should disown that and apologise for that immediately. 

The police keep us safe, they keep us safe from crime, they keep us safe from terrorism and they uphold the rule of law.

The AWU should comply with the law and when they have spokesman like Mr O’Conner that would prefer to defend the thugs and the criminals in the CFMEU than stand up for the police that keep us safe, that shows you a lot about the values of the Labor Party of Bill Shorten. 

JOURNALIST:

I did have an energy question but since we’re on the topic I’ll ask this one first.

PRIME MINISTER:

Right, okay.

JOURNALIST:

Labor has suggested these raids are the result of a witch-hunt by the Turnbull Government against Bill Shorten. What is your reaction to that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well again that is, that shows the lack of respect the Labor Party has for the Australian Federal Police and the rule of law.

The AFP are completely independent as Labor know, and as indeed Mr Shorten has said on previous occasions. He knows that as well as all of us do.

This is just the desperation of a Labor Party that is a wholly owned subsidiary of the CFMEU - a trade union that treats the law as nothing to be concerned about.

Look at Sally McManus, the head of the ACTU, she goes on television and says unions should be entitled to break the law.

Well you know what? They’re not. Everyone’s got to comply with the law. That’s what the rule of law means. The rule of law means that everyone is bound by the law, and that includes unions and it’s about time Labor and Mr Shorten recognize that Australians will not accept their continued defence and complicit support of the CFMEU, a union whose rap sheet is as long as your arm, have got dozens of union officials before the courts. And of course you’ve seen the appalling language and threats in Queensland that they’ve made against workers at North Oaky.

JOURNALIST:

The AWU and Bill Shorten of course where investigated by the Royal Commission. Did it make mistakes? Was it not thorough enough?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I’ve got no comment other than to say that the Royal Commission had a very long inquiry, made some very valuable recommendations, many of which we have now been able to legislate through the Parliament.

JOURNALIST:

But it cleared both of those entities and certainly Mr Shorten. Why does the ROC now need to go back over those coals?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look, these are again, we set up, institutions like this are set up to uphold the law and they are conducting an investigation and they should be allowed to do that. And the political abuse that we’ve seen heaped on police by the Labor Party is a disgrace.

JOURNALIST:

The media were actually tipped off yesterday, were there before AFP officers. Does that not imply government involvement in this and is this a smear campaign like the Opposition is saying?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, the only smear, is the smear Labor is trying to conduct against the Australian Federal Police. They are accusing the Australian Federal Police of being politically motivated, that is a disgrace. Bill Shorten knows that’s a lie and he should apologise for it.

JOURNALIST:

Federal Police say that guarding your Point Piper residence is diversion away from drug operations and other operations. Will you move to Kirribilli House and if not, why not?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well let me say this, the police arrangements in respect of our home are the same as has been the case for previous prime ministers, including Kevin Rudd of course whose home was in Brisbane. And that is the fact.

And our track record on keeping Australians safe, whether it is providing the police, our intelligence agencies or the ADF with the financial, legal, technological tools they need to keep us safe speak for themselves. 13 terrorist plots disrupted since 2014. That is a record of the persistence, the professionalism, the commitment of our agencies. They’re the best in the world and I call on the Labor Party to support them, to stop this continued denigration.

The rule of law applies to everybody. What happens is, when there is an investigation that affects a union, immediately the Labor Party attacks the police.

Just consider what John Setka said about the Australian Federal Police, in that speech at the rally in Melbourne, to which Bill Shorten sent a greeting message.

Setka’s attack on the Australian Federal Police was abusive, vile, disgusting.

Has Bill Shorten disassociated himself from that?

When is Bill Shorten going to stand up for the rule of law?

When is he going to say to Australians the Labor Party will dissociate itself from the CFMEU and its thugs and criminals?

When is he going to have the courage to do what Bob Hawke did with the Builders Labourers Federation?

The reason he won’t is money. The CFMEU is the biggest donor to the Labor Party. Labor is a wholly owned subsidiary of a trade union that regards the law as something of no account. 

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, how was this matter brought to the attention or referred to the ROC? How does that process work?

PRIME MINISTER:

Matters are referred to the ROC, Registered Organisations Commission, but as to what they investigate and how they investigate it is entirely a matter for them.

JOURNALIST:

Was this matter referred by the government?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well this is a matter that the Registered Organisations Commission is investigating independently and they should be allowed to do their work, full stop. And it’s about time that the labor party stopped interfering and trying to use their threats and the media to intimidate the agencies including the AFP whose job it is to enforce and maintain the rule of law.

JOURNALIST:

I understand it’s an independent investigation but I’m just asking about where the referral came from?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the matter is being referred to the Registered Organisations Commission. They are entitled to investigate.

Look, police, agencies, various regulatory agencies have many matters referred to them. The Labor Party, Mark Dreyfus is always referring things to the Australian Federal Police. He is. He is. He is always doing that. And they look at all of these things. They look at all of this information and it’s their duty to consider them independently and objectively and then take such action as they believe is appropriate.

Now If I can be very clear, I stand for the rule of law. I stand for defending and respecting the agencies that enforce it and uphold it and keep us safe.

And the question for Bill Shorten is where does he stand?

Does he only support the Australian Federal Police and the rule of law when it doesn’t impact on him?

Is he like Sally McManus that thinks the law should apply to everybody except big trade unions?

The rule of law applies to everyone - unions, business, governments - everybody.

It’s about time Bill Shorten told us where he stands. Does he stand for the law, for the rule of law and the agencies that uphold it? Or is he going to just continue to be an apologist for unions that break, defy and hold the law in contempt. 

JOURNALIST:

Just on energy Prime Minister-

PRIME MINISTER:

Alright one more, and so good to get back on energy.

JOURNALIST:

Jay Weatherill has confirmed that he will not be backing your national energy plan?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think you’re drawing a long bow there. I don’t think he’s done that.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think it’s dead on arrival at COAG?

PRIME MINISTER:

Absolutely not.

JOURNALIST:

Have you spoken with state premiers, chief ministers, all of them? Have they guaranteed they’re on board with your process?

PRIME MINISTER:

I spoke to all of the premiers with the exception of Dan Andrews – but we have been in touch. We’ve been messaging as they say. But I’ve spoken to them about the National Energy Guarantee and as I said, a couple of days ago the private conversations are different to the public rhetoric, as if often the case.

Look, this National Energy Guarantee - let’s push away all of the, you know, Jay Weatherill’s frenzied rhetoric, public rhetoric - let’s look at it objectively.

The National Energy Guarantee is a recommendation from the Energy Security Board. The Energy Security Board was appointed by COAG, most of whose governments are Labor governments. It is composed of an independent chair and a deputy chair, Kerry Schott and Clare Savage - universally respected and admired experts in this field. Added to that, you have the Chair of the Energy Market Commission, John Pierce who makes the rules. You have the Chief Executive of the Energy Market Operator, Audrey Zibelman - enormous experience both internationally and of course, now she’s actually managing the National Electricity Market. And of course you have Paula Conboy, who is the energy regulator.

So these five people are the five smartest most experienced people you could find. That’s why COAG put them there.

Now, what did Alan Finkel say? Alan Finkel said, go and set up the Energy Security Board - COAG did that. Ask them for their advice. That’s what we’ve done, we’ve got the advice.

This advice is advice that comes from an expert group appointed by COAG, appointed by those Labor premiers and chief ministers and indeed by Josh, who sits on that board.

So you know, the modelling that the AEMC is undertaking, that will all be completed by November.

I think you’ll find a lot more commonsense emerging from COAG than some of the media statements would suggest.

JOURNALIST:

Are you open to a process of negotiations with states over some elements of the plan?

PRIME MINISTER:

The plan will obviously be discussed but I think that it is a very, very clear recommendation.

Look I’d just ref you to, I think, was it the Bloomberg clean energy group?

MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY:

Yes.

PRIME MINISTER:

They described it as a very elegant solution.

You know, there have been – the endorsement, the unanimous endorsement across the board from people involved in the minerals industry, the people involved in the clean energy and the renewables sector - the support for this plan is near unanimous. And that is because for the first time, it brings together climate and energy policy, levels the playing field, ends the subsidies, enables us to achieve those three goals - the triple bottom line of affordable energy, reliable energy – you’ve got to keep the lights on as South Australians have learnt, and the problems when that doesn’t happen – and of course meeting our Paris emission reduction target. 

So it is a great plan. It wasn’t written by me and Josh, it was written by the Energy Security Board. Nobody knows more about this industry than those people. And they were put there by COAG, by more Labor governments than Coalition ones.

So on that note, thank you all very much.

[ENDS]