9 December 2016
Transcript - #2016077, 2016

Interview with Lisa Wilkinson and Anthony Albanese, The Today Show

SUBJECTS: Carbon pricing; the economy

LISA WILKINSON:

Joining us now to talk the week in politics is Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O'Dwyer, from Melbourne.

KELLY O'DWYER:

Good morning.

LISA WILKINSON:

Here in the studio, Shadow Transport and Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese. Good morning to both of you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

Good morning Lisa and Kelly.

LISA WILKINSON:

Kelly, I'll start with you, Malcolm Turnbull has publicly stated that a carbon pricing scheme would push prices up, but this report by the Australian electricity market commission says that is definitely not the case. Have you got this badly wrong?

KELLY O'DWYER:

Look, I haven't seen the report, but I can say to you that the last time that a big economy-wide carbon tax was imposed on the Australian economy it did actually push up electricity prices. It punished pensioners, it punished businesses, it punished families and we got rid of it. We actually don't want high electricity prices. We don't want to have high energy costs and we need to have secure and affordable energy and that's what we are delivering and we're meeting our emissions reduction targets to boot.

LISA WILKINSON:

Albo is that true?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

Kelly has got the talking points but the facts are different and the facts have been presented to COAG today. This is a report that was commissioned by the national electricity sector. It shows that costs would come down by $15 billion over a decade for households and for businesses. Malcolm Turnbull's been sitting on this report. You had Josh Frydenberg earlier on in the week say they'd consider an emissions intensity scheme and what we had then was it ruled out, after 48 hours, even though Malcolm Turnbull knows full well this would be good for the economy, good for households and good for the environment.

LISA WILKINSON:

Kelly, has the Prime Minister turned into a climate change sceptic? Or is he just keeping Corey Bernardi happy by smacking down Josh Frydenberg?

KELLY O'DWYER:

The Prime Minister has been entirely consistent. He has always said that it's important for us…

LISA WILKINSON:

He used to believe in climate change…

KELLY O'DWYER:

He still does…

LISA WILKINSON:

Before he was leader…

KELLY O'DWYER:

He absolutely still does…

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

And he used to believe in a price on carbon. He said it over and over again.

KELLY O'DWYER:

We have got an emissions reduction fund that is actually making sure that we can reduce our carbon emissions without punishing pensioners, without punishing people. You've got a plan to actually not only introduce a new carbon tax but to actually make it cost even more…

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

That's where these talking points are just nonsense. Absolute nonsense...

KELLY O'DWYER:

They are not talking points, they are the facts…

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

They are. The emissions intensity scheme shows it would drive prices down. It's one thing to be a carbon sceptic but it's another thing for a Liberal Party to be market sceptics and that's what they are saying here. That the markets don't work, that a command-style top down approach…

KELLY O'DWYER:

But we've got a market scheme with the emissions reduction fund…

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

You have a top down Stalinist approach of picking winners...

KELLY O'DWYER:

Well you'd know about Stalinist approaches…

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

What an emissions scheme would do, it's a closed sector so it just applies within the electricity market and it would drive down prices for households and businesses.

KELLY O'DWYER:

So you don't rule out a carbon tax?

LISA WILKINSON:

$15 billion is a huge saving Kelly, how can you deny that?

KELLY O'DWYER:

Well, the point I'm making is that anything that is going to increase electricity prices, such as a carbon tax, which is what the Labor policy is…

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

It's not a carbon tax, it's an emissions intensity scheme, so stop saying nonsense.

KELLY O'DWYER:

It would be nice to be able to finish the question.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

Stop saying rubbish. Using the slogan, you have a serious report here.

KELLY O'DWYER:

You don't need to be rude, just because you don't like what I'm saying.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

Well you don't need to make things up.

KELLY O'DWYER:

It happens to be the fact. The fact is you have got an even higher target which means that in order to implement that, that's what you took to the election, you'll need to impose an even bigger carbon tax. We are saying we are not going to do that.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

No-one is talking about a carbon tax except for your rhetoric.

KELLY O'DWYER:

We are already reducing our emissions. We will beat our Kyoto targets, we will beat our Paris target and we are doing that through an emissions reduction fund. That is a market based mechanism. All of your…

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

Except for your own advice says that you won't meet the Paris targets.

KELLY O'DWYER:

You've got your cranky pills today I think, Albo.

LISA WILKINSON:

Kelly the problem is that this week Australia posted its worst economic performance since the Global Financial Crisis and I think what people will see is there is $15 billion worth of savings which this country desperately needs and the Government is rejecting it.

KELLY O'DWYER:

Look, the national accounts were very clear. It's true that they weren't as good as we would have liked, but what I would say is that the economy is still growing faster than other economies, advanced economies around the world.

LISA WILKINSON:

But we haven't got the jobs and growth that the Prime Minister promised us.

KELLY O'DWYER:

Well let me just finish on that. I mean, we're growing faster than Canada. We're growing faster than the USA. We're not growing as fast as the UK but it underscores exactly what we have been saying as a government all along, which is you cannot be reckless with our economy. We need to ensure that we continue to grow our economy because that is how we will create jobs. That's why we're cutting the company tax rate for small businesses, because small businesses in this country employ more than 4.5 million Australians. Now that's been blocked by Labor. That's why we've also got to plan to invest $50 billion in infrastructure, because again we need to invest in assets that are going to keep the country moving. And that's why we've got a plan to make sure that our economy continues to move forward through investment...

LISA WILKINSON:

Alright...

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

The economy shrunk in the last quarter by 0.5 per cent. There's no global financial crisis. There weren't cyclones. There's no reason other than Government incompetence. And when it comes to infrastructure, they actually have cut spending on infrastructure. They said last year they'd spend $8 billion in the last year...

KELLY O'DWYER:

That's just not true…

ANTHONY ALBANESE:

They spent five and a half billion dollars. A 30 per cent cut in what they said they would do…

KELLY O'DWYER:

This is the biggest infrastructure plan…

LISA WILKINSON:

Alright. I think you've both had equal time this morning. Kelly and Albo, we are going to have to leave it there. We are out of time. Thank you very much. Have a great weekend.

KELLY O'DWYER:

You too.