SUBJECTS: Budget 2019; Electric cars; Renewable energy; Labor’s positive plans for TAFE; Teaching degrees; Climate change.

ALAN JONES, PRESENTER: Well Mr Shorten brought down the Budget Reply Speech last night. It's a ritual every year that the Budget is brought down, the Opposition Leader, whomever he might be, gets a chance to respond to the government's statement . A little bit different this year because it's expected that the Prime Minister this weekend will call an election. So in some ways this was an election manifesto. I have no doubt that, shrewd politician that he is, Mr Shorten didn't play all his cards last night. If you were to believe the polls, Mr Shorten is one of the most unpopular Opposition Leaders in recent times, which has led to the Liberal Party completely underestimating his ability to cut through in the electorate. It was Tony Abbott who said to me, and I've mentioned this many times, only months into Tony Abbott's Prime Ministership, that one of the biggest problems he had with the Liberal Party was convincing them that Mr Shorten was a hard bloke to beat. Well so it's proven. He's been there five years and now he's, according to the polls, on the cusp of becoming Prime Minister. Now I have invited Mr Shorten on so many times onto this program I've given up although my staff did invite him again last night. He hasn't ever refused to be fair, it's just that he hasn't answered any invitations, but the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, joins me this morning from Canberra. Tanya, good morning.
TANYA PLIBERSEK MP, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: You've got the monkey, not the organ grinder Alan.
JONES: That's very unfair to you and very uncharitable. We have had a bit of a yarn in recent times about a minor matter which is very important to the battling little cafe in your electorate in Maloney Street, Eastlakes. And just to explain about this, the owners there, this is happening to people everywhere, they've been there for years, open at 5am through to 4pm, a coffee shop but the Bayside Council decided to impose new compliance orders. They restricted trade from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 12 noon, and Tanya and I attacked this issue because he was going to go into liquidation, he couldn't make a quid. So at the end of the day we prevailed but it shouldn't have even been an issue, should it?
PLIBERSEK: Well Alan, the family that run this business would have lost their business and their home. They've mortgaged their home to buy the business. It just was beyond belief that this lovely little cafe, that I have to confess a personal interest, I stop there on my morning walk and get my coffee, was facing closure and I was so grateful to you for your intervention because it was just a little bit of common sense, these people struggling to make a living, deserve to be left alone to make a living.
JONES: Absolutely. Now look, I've got to ask you this in the most respectful way. I'm just wondering whether or not we don't have a Michael Daley leading the Labor Party. Now you will recall, in Canberra, you will recall at the state election recently, and I'm sure it was an embarrassment to people down there, Michael Daley was asked how much TAFE commitments would cost or his education commitments, he was asked about what the stadium would cost, he said 'I don't know because I don't know what the stadium will look like' but he said he was going to rebuild it but didn't know what it would look like but he couldn't cost it. Then he was asked this question about how much TAFE funding would be and he said $3 billion when in fact it's about $45 million and then he was asked about his overall education spending and he said I'll check the figure and get back to you. Now, in recent times I have been talking and I wanted to talk to you about education primarily before we got on any of this, but I actually have been talking about this electric car thing. Mr Shorten has, in my view, established now a GST candles moment, a John Hewson moment, because he wants 50 per cent of all new cars to be electric by 2030, I know this is not your portfolio. The current level is 0.2 per cent. It's totally uncosted. Now he was on Kyle and Jackie O's program this week and was asked a simple question about how these electric cars work. Just listen to this.
JONES: Tanya, I think his battery is completely flat. You can't charge a mobile phone. But look, I've been speaking to an expert on all of this from, the managing editor you're welcome to talk to him yourself but Trent Nikolic and then I let him hear that and I asked him this morning what he thought and this is what he said.
JONES: Tanya, this is serious stuff going into an election, in the light of the fact that you've got to know your stuff and know your figures. Do you have a comment on it?
PLIBERSEK: Well Alan, I don't think, as Michael Daley said, it's not a memory test, this thing, it's about making sure we've got the right policies and one of the reasons that we're committing $100 million to fast charging stations - and the reason incidentally that the New South Wales government, the Victorian government and the Queensland government are also committing to fast charging stations - is because we know that increasingly around the world electric vehicles are becoming more popular and more common. So a fast charging you'd spend about 20 or 30 minutes charging your car and as the person you interviewed mentioned, these technologies are getting better all the time. Look at the way that solar technology on roof tops has improved. When we came into government last time there were 7,000 homes in Australia with solar on the roof now it's 1.8 million and people know that it's saving them money in their homes. But the big car companies around the world, in all of their research and development they're focusing on electric vehicles. They see it as the way of the future and Australia has to be ready for that trend. If you look at a country like Norway, they're I think about 60 per cent of new cars sales there -
JONES: You can't compare Norway with us, I mean we're a massive country, Tanya. Listen you're talking about battlers and you're talking about the little worker out there, now these cars are $20,000 more expensive than your average petrol car. The Mitsubishi model is $49,000, the Holden is $60,000, the Hyundai is $60,000 the Tesla Model X is $97,000, the tradies, there's not even a utility for the tradies.
PLIBERSEK: That's true. I'll tell you what Alan. The cars that we get in Australia today that are electric vehicles are very expensive. There's only four that you can buy for less than $60,000, but in the UK there are 20 models that cost less that $50,000, there are $35,000 equivalent Australian dollars, electric vehicles in the UK and that's because they've got greater penetration of electric vehicles in the UK so when we have a bigger market here we will get more of those cheaper cars that are available around the world that our consumers aren't allowed to buy. They're not imported into Australia.
JONES: Tanya, on the one hand, on the one hand, you people are denying coal-fired power, which is reliable, affordable and available, and yet you're telling everybody that 50 per cent of our cars are going to be electric and you'll plug them in. Now all sorts of authorities have argued that we'll have blackouts everywhere. We don't have the capacity to be able to charge these vehicles.
PLIBERSEK: Alan, new coal is more expensive than new renewables.
JONES: That's not true. That is not true. We won't go into that debate now. We won't go into that now.
PLIBERSEK: We can have it over dinner one night, Alan because that's a long one, isn't it?
JONES: It is indeed but look, I just want to ask this, I didn't want to go into detail about this this morning, but nonetheless what sort of car do you drive?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I do as I say, not do as I do, Alan. I've got an Australian-made, when we used to make cars in Australia, Ford Territory because as-
JONES: Knew it
PLIBERSEK: Yeah well I've got three kids Alan, as soon as one of them-
JONES: I know! Well that's it. So hang on, hang on-
PLIBERSEK: We're not mandating that everybody has to drive an electric vehicle. We're not saying you have to.
JONES: He says that we will 50 per cent. 
PLIBERSEK: Of new car sales. Yep.
JONES: He says if someone is driving a car with more than 105 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre they are going to be taxed. Now your car is more than 105 grams of carbon dioxide.
PLIBERSEK: No sorry, they're not going to be taxed. What we are aiming for is better vehicle emission standards for the cars that we import into Australia. The same vehicle emission standards, incidentally Alan, that they've got in the United States. We're not going for the tougher ones-
JONES: But the United States is different, Tanya.
PLIBERSEK: We're not going for the tougher ones they have in Europe.
JONES: They have coal fired power over there. They have got electricity coming out of their ears. 
PLIBERSEK: This isn't about-
JONES: We've been warned, we've been warned this week, we've been warned this week, that we won't be able to provide the kind of electricity and the volume of it needed to charge these vehicles. The Australian Energy Market Commission said this week, as I am speaking to you, they are already being forced to intervene daily in the electricity grid to impose safety nets to ensure the lights stay on. Not Alan Jones. They said the grid is holding up but only because the energy market operator is intervening on a daily basis to keep the lights on. We haven't plugged in one electric car to be charged yet.
PLIBERSEK: And that's why we support the National Energy Guarantee to make sure we're got affordable, reliable power in Australia. This is a policy that the Liberals themselves floated and they haven't managed to get it through their Party room or through their Parliament. They've had 13 different energy policies in their six years of government. We still don't have one for the nation.
JONES: But Tanya, Tanya, your policy is South Australian policy. You see, I agree with you, on affordable, reliable, there's only three things you have to have with electricity. One it 's got to be available, then it's got to be reliable, and then it's got to be affordable.
PLIBERSEK: And we can bring down pollution at the same time.
JONES: But solar and wind aren't available or reliable.
PLIBERSEK: No. And we've got additional policies like in making sure that gas is more a larger part of our market, making sure that we're supporting thing like the Snowy Mountains Hydro-
JONES: We've got stacks of gas but we export it all. We export it all. And we're buying that at the international price. Do you agree?
PLIBERSEK: We agree Alan, we agree that there should be-
JONES: Do you believe there should be a gas reservation policy?
PLIBERSEK: We've said consistently that we need to put Australian interests first when it comes to gas. And we've said we would be prepared to pull the trigger to make sure that more of our gas stays in Australia and is more affordable for Australian domestic use, including for our industries that are crying out for cheaper, reliable power. We are well aware of that. And it was disappointing that this government was not prepared to pull the trigger to keep more of our Australian gas at home and keep it affordable.
JONES: Can I just take to you, we could go forever and unfortunately we are always beaten by time but at least you're here and we can have a yarn about these things. Look your portfolio is education which really does bother me because you're talking now about, I mean the good thing last night, by the way, was TAFE and congratulations on that.
JONES: I think a lot of money has got to be tipped into TAFE so we don't have to discuss that. That is a very valuable initiative. But you're talking about, Bill Shorten talked about education offering a world of opportunity. By international standards, our education system is diabolical. How do you address those standards? I mean, you've got questions, when they are what? Sixteenth in reading, twenty-fifth in maths, fourteenth in science, but the expenditure is $14 billion higher than it was 10 years ago. We're not getting value for our money.
PLIBERSEK: Well it is about extra investment but it's about much more than that. Alan, one of the things that concerns me most, and I'd love to have a longer talk to you about this one day, is we keep dropping the standards to get into teaching degrees at university, and I have spoken to the universities about this. We need to be getting our teachers from the top 30 per cent of academic achievers. That's what high performing countries around the world do. We need to make sure that we're applying the same sort of science to teaching, not ideology, but science to teaching as we do in health care. We don't experiment without knowing what we are doing. We don't adopt new medicines or new surgeries without knowing what we are doing. In education, we adopt every trend that's going and-
JONES: But nonetheless, 28 places were offered to students in teaching courses at the University of Sydney last year, with ATARs of between 0 and 19, 29 places were offered with ATARS between 20 and 29, 73 places ATARs between 30 and 39 - these people finish up as teachers. What hope have our kids got?
PLIBERSEK: I completely agree with you and I told the universities that I'll intervene if I'm Minister to stop this if I have to. And I also, Alan, said we'd offer bursaries to very high achieving students, the dux of the high school, the university medallists, someone achieving well in their profession who wants to change to teaching. You remember what it like when people used to get Commonwealth scholarships, Alan. You got the best and brightest into teaching. We want to return to those times when teaching was a highly valued, highly respected profession that people are competing to become teachers the way they compete to become doctors or dentists or vets. That's what we need in Australia.
JONES: OK we need to talk about that another day because there are things inhibiting people from wanting to become a teacher. But I just want to, we're running out of time.
PLIBERSEK: Including the behaviour of parents sometimes, Alan.
JONES: Yes well that is true, that is absolutely true. Look, just about this climate change, Bill Shorten talked about it in a stern and schoolmasterly way, you know my views, I don't believe in global warming and I don't believe in that sort of nonsense, but what is causing climate change? Is it carbon dioxide?
PLIBERSEK: Yes. Carbon dioxide pollution is a major contributor to -
JONES: OK so can I ask you, this is not a trick question, what percentage of the earth's air is carbon dioxide?
PLIBERSEK: Oh I don't know, I don't know off the top of my head.
JONES: Well you see if you don't, no, no, but Tanya, if you don't know why are we standing the economy on its head to address the issue? And the percentage of the earth's air that is carbon dioxide is 0.04 per cent. Now of the 0.04 per cent, how much is contributed by human beings?
PLIBERSEK: Alan, all I know is that every serious scientist in the world-
JONES: No, not everyone I talk to.
PLIBERSEK: Yeah you're talking to the people who are funded by the coal industry and -
JONES: No I've talked to them all. But Tanya.
PLIBERSEK: Truly. Alan-
JONES: We've got to go, but 0.04 per cent of the earth's air is carbon dioxide and we're going to stand our economy on its head to accommodate that problem.
PLIBERSEK: Alan, I'll tell you what. You're not a smoker are you because you know-
JONES: No I'm not but now look I have to leave -
PLIBERSEK: The vast majority of doctors will tell you it's bad for you. 
JONES: We'll come back, we'll come back, we'll come back and talk in the next couple of weeks, but thank you for your time. We've got to go to a network commitment. Thanks for your time.