THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
CHANNEL SEVEN, WEEKEND SUNRISE
SATURDAY, 18 MARCH 2017
SUBJECT: National energy crisis.
ANDREW O’KEEFE, PRESENTER: Now, politics this week has been dominated by the much discussed looming power crisis and the best way to solve it. To discuss it just a little bit further, we are joined by Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor, and Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek. Morning to you both.
ANGUS TAYLOR, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CITIES AND DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION: Morning
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Morning.
O’KEEFE: Now Angus, of course the week’s most awkward political moment, primo awkwardo, was the argy-bargy between Jay Weatherill and Josh Frydenberg. Just a little reminder of that gate-crashing media conference.
JAY WEATHERILL, PREMIER OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA [RECORDING]: It is a disgrace, the way in which your Government has treated our State, is the most anti-South Australian government we have seen from a Commonwealth government in living memory.
JOSH FRYDENBERG, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY [RECORDING]: The Premier trying to come into this, to crash-tackle this announcement where he hasn’t put any money, just shows you, unfortunately, how desperate he is.
O’KEEFE: It does seem to reiterate everything that the punters have come to despise about politics.
TAYLOR: Well, you know Andrew, what I would say is that Josh did extremely well to keep his cool, with such appalling blackouts we’ve seen in South Australia and the failure of the South Australian Premier to take responsibility. But I’d say that’s not the big story of the week, the big story is how we’re going to solve the power crisis.
O’KEEFE: Well that’s exactly right, that’s what I mean about people being disillusioned about that. There’s so much emphasis on who’s to blame, not what the solution is.
TAYLOR: Well, and what the truth was, we announced, on that day, an iconic initiative in the Snowy Scheme, which will have a huge impact on our electricity system. It’ll deal with a problem that was exactly the problem the Snowy Scheme was set up to deal with in the first place, which was reliability and blackouts.
O’KEEFE: Indeed. I mean it’ll take a while to get online but it is a huge scheme. You know, the Prime Minister says this is a real nation builder. Tanya?
PLIBERSEK: Well, lets see if it actually works. The announcement was for a $2 billion scheme, and we find out in the fine print it’s a $500 000 feasibility study. The Prime Minister said a lot of things about the NBN when he had responsibility for that, it would be cheaper, faster and delivered sooner. In fact, it’s slower, more expensive and people are still waiting for it. So, I mean, I hope this project does go ahead, my dad worked on the original Snowy Scheme and I think it is a great Australian nation-building scheme.
O’KEEFE: Hang on, then, your dad worked for Angus’ grandfather. How do you like that?
PLIBERSEK: Maybe. But, you know, we’re talking about years to come and we’ve got an energy crisis now, so we say one of the first things we should be doing is having a national interest test on our gas reserves, so businesses who rely on gas right now, will be able to get the gas they need.
O’KEEFE: Now, on the subject of gas, I mean, you’re talking about our exports of liquefied natural gas, much of which comes from our ocean reserves, the subject of coal seam gas has been incredibly divisive, and I guess in a rural electorate like yours, and I know more so. There does seem to be a body of scientific evidence which suggests that if done well, coal seam gas extraction is efficient, reasonably cheap and can provide great power. Where do you stand on coal seam gas, Angus?
TAYLOR: Well Andrew, there are lots of places where we can increase gas supply without threatening the environment. We can do it in Bass Strait, we can do it in the way we liquefy our gas. So we need to look at those sensible solutions, without threatening agricultural land. I think it can absolutely be done, and we can get the balance right. I’ve believed this for many years, it’s absolutely achievable, the numbers are clear, and it’s incumbent on the gas companies, and state governments, to get on with that job.
O’KEEFE: OK, so no need for fracking is what you’re saying?
TAYLOR: Well what I’m saying is there’s no need to cause environmental damage.
O’KEEFE: Righto. If environmental damage, the avoidance of environmental damage was assured, would Labor support coal seam gas extraction?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I find myself agreeing with Angus. I think there’s a lot of conventional gas that we’re not using, because we’re exporting it overseas. People can buy it cheaper overseas than they can buy it Australia.
O’KEEFE: That is bad.
PLIBERSEK: That is a real problem, isn’t it. So lets have a look at the conventional sources first. And, the agricultural land that the Nationals are worried about, we’re worried about that too, and our beautiful environment, and our water aquifers. We have to be careful of these.
O’KEEFE: Yes, absolutely. Now just very quickly to reiterate, your grandfather was Chief Engineer on the Snowy River Scheme.
TAYLOR: Yeah, what we’d call Chief Executive.
O’KEEFE: Unbelievable. And your dad worked on it.
PLIBERSEK: He was a plumber.
TAYLOR: To respond to Tanya, I stood at Talbingo dam, where the Prime Minister was yesterday, in the seventies, and he talked through the plans for pump storage in the Snowy - and battery, big battery. This plan has been around for a long, long time, so you know, this is why I am very confident it can be done.
O’KEEFE: Thank you very much team.