Transcript

Joint Press Conference - Snowy Hydro

Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance and the Public Service
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia

The Hon. Scott Morrison MP
Prime Minister
Federal Member for Cook

The Hon. Angus Taylor MP
Minister for Energy
Federal Member for Hume

The Hon. Melissa Price MP
Minister for the Environment
Federal Member for Durack

Transcription: 

PROOF COPY E & OE

Date: 

26/2/2019

Topic(s): 

Snowy Hydro 2.0

DR FIONA KOTVOJS: Good morning everybody. My name is Fiona Kotvojs, I’m the Liberal Candidate for Eden-Monaro and I’m really excited to be here today. This is a fantastic announcement and I’m really pleased to have such a high calibre team here to make our announcement. The original Snowy was critical for our area and our region. It really transformed us, both in terms of who we are as a community and in terms of power for Australia. And I am… excited is an understatement, to be here and to be part of today and the history making that is happening today. So on that note I would really like to introduce the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Well thank you Dr Kotvojs.  It’s wonderful to be here of course with your colleagues who are well known to you and Paul Broad, the CEO of Snowy Hydro and to be meeting with those who are working here and particularly the Clontarf Boys from Kempsey and Dubbo, it’s great to see you guys. Snowy is a big supporter of the Clontarf Program which you know is something I’ve had involvement with over a long period of time. So it’s good to see how it’s making an impact here as well.

But the impact we’re here to talk about today is a huge investment in Australia’s future. Not just our energy future, not just our climate future - but our economic future. This is a project, when it was first undertaken, it changed our nation. It changed our nation. And this project which began two years ago when Malcolm Turnbull uncovered the old designs and drawings that… I know that the Energy Minister’s grandfather, Angus Taylor’s grandfather, had a key hand in. And we set about the task of turning that into a reality once again because what we’re talking about here is reliable, renewable energy. We’re talking about a 2000 megawatt capacity which can be provided into the energy market, which not only reduces electricity prices and takes the pressure off electricity prices, but it creates the reliability of electricity supply.

As we transition our energy composition into the future, this project is central to that. And not just this project, as I said yesterday. The hydro, pumped hydro projects in Tasmania, the MarinusLink – which is critical in unlocking that – combined this is an enormous part of the climate solutions package that I outlined yesterday. It isn’t just about emissions reduction. That’s an incredibly important part of the program through the Climate Solutions Fund. But this is about impacting on the future of electricity supply in this country. This will be one of the largest pumped hydro projects in the world. There’s only one in Iceland that’s bigger. There are other projects in other parts of the world. But they’re not as big as this one. This is ground-breaking in every sense. And it’s something that I think all Australians can have a great sense of excitement and pride about.

This is what vision looks like and we’ve been working on this project to get it to this point. We’re investing the $1.4 billion in equity into making this project a reality. That really sets it apart. And I think says very clearly what our Government, since we’re elected first time just over five years ago, has been setting out to achieve. That is to secure our future and this project is critical to Australia securing our future.

I want to commend all of those, Paul, who’ve been working so hard on this. Your vision in this, your participation, the outstanding science and engineering capabilities that are a part of the Snowy Hydro family have enabled us to get to where we are today and to ensure we can now move forward with great confidence about the future of this project. Which would not only transform, as Dr Kotvojs said, this area but will indeed once again transform our nation in the same way that the original project did.

So I’m very excited to be here to make that announcement. I acknowledge the work that was done by Prime Minister Turnbull in kicking this project off. As his Treasurer, I worked closely together with him on this project as the now Treasurer, John Frydenberg, as we bought this project together, the Commonwealth took full ownership of Snowy Hydro. That was in Budget…two Budgets ago. And that ensured that we can now do what we are doing here and now. So very excited to be here. I’m going to ask Mathias to talk about the process we’ve been through to make the commercial decision. Because this is a commercial decision. This is a commercial business. This is something that stands on its feet. And will into the future as Snowy Hydro always has. Mathias is going to speak to that. Angus will speak to its impact on the broader energy policy of the government. And Melissa will speak to how this plugs in to our broader Climate Solutions Package which I announced yesterday. And then I’ll ask Paul to make some closing remarks.               

MATHIAS CORMANN: Thank you very much Prime Minister. This is a very exciting project. It’s a major project, which will help deliver more affordable, more reliable energy supplies to consumers and to business. It is a project which will help underpin more environmentally efficient energy supplies for a very, very long time to come. Importantly, it is a project that financially stacks up. We always said that we wanted to ensure, before pressing the button on this project, that it made commercial and financial sense and it does.

The Commonwealth will be investing just under $1.4 billion in equity to make this project happen. The remaining cost will be covered by the company through internally generated cash flows and debt financing. The project is projected to generate an internal rate of return of over eight per cent and, indeed, the company is expected to continue to pay dividends to the Commonwealth all throughout the construction phase. It’s a project which will see 2,400 Australians participate in direct jobs during the construction phase and it’s a project that will generate a further 5,000 jobs directly and indirectly in the broader region.

So it’s an exciting day. It is a project which started under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister. We have gone through a very thorough process, Angus and I, as shareholder Ministers, reviewing the business case that was put forward by the board, making a recommendation to the Expenditure Review Committee and ultimately to the Cabinet. We are very, very confident that not only is this a project which will help deliver more affordable, more reliable energy supplies, it will also do so in a way that will help underpin environmentally more efficient energy supplies into the future and it will do so in a way that is financially and fiscally sustainable. So a great day for Australia.

MINISTER TAYLOR: Thanks Mathias. Well what a great day. Over forty years ago, I stood in this very spot with my grandfather who recently retired as Chief Engineer and Commissioner of the Snowy through the construction phase. It was only a year or two after this power station where we stand had been opened. And he explained to us, to my family, the potential and the impact of pumped hydro. He also explained that there was a great, unrealised opportunity for the Snowy Scheme. And that was to build a tunnel from Tantangara to Talbingo and use it for pump hydro. Well today the Prime Minister has announced we will proceed with that fantastic project, linking the past generation of those who built this fantastic scheme with future generations.

Now, our energy market faces some great challenges and opportunities right now. We need more reliable, dispatchable power in the system and we need more storage. We are seeing absolutely unprecedented investment of variable renewable power into our system. Solar and wind. Unprecedented. And that needs backup and it needs storage. And that’s exactly what Snowy 2.0 will deliver. 2000 megawatts of dispatchable capacity that will be there when we need it. Be there when we need to keep the lights on, to keep industry turning. But it also provides an enormous battery. 175 hours of storage in Tantangara Dam. That means when we go for periods where we don’t have sunshine or wind that’s needed to power our electricity market, Snowy can step in at a scale that it hasn’t been able to in the past. That will put downward pressure on prices and it will keep the lights on. We know modelling that’s been done tells us that we can put downward pressure on prices, up to 10 percent, as a result of this project.

The economics work, Mathias has laid that out. The cost of storage in Snowy is less than a fiftieth of the cost of storage in Lithium batteries. The economics stack up. This is a great day for this region. This is a great day for Snowy Hydro. Most of all, this is a great day for Australia.

MINISTER PRICE: Thanks Angus. It’s lovely to be here today and I particularly just want to acknowledge all the new employees of Snowy and I can see that the excitement is palpable about what Snowy 2.0 will bring for them and their futures and their families and it is lovely to have met you all today. Yesterday with the PM, we announced our $3.5 climate solutions package. There’s been a lot of talk about the fact its $2 billion with respect to the ERF. But there are many other aspects of that particular package. One of them is this project. This $1.4 billion commitment. And why is it important? It’s important that number one we actually support the growth of renewables and we do need to keep the lights on. We need to have low emission, dispatchable power. And what I know is that when it’s needed, Snowy 2.0 is going to provide dispatchable power for over another half a billion homes. This is a great story for this region. As you can see we’re very excited to be here. This is an excellent story for Australia but in particular for Australia’s environment.

PAUL BROAD: Thank you very much. Thank you Prime Minister and thank you Ministers. We very much appreciate the fact that you’ve made time in your busy schedules to come down here with us to celebrate what is a huge milestone from all the Snowy family in that high-vis shirts out amongst you. We are very proud of this day. We stand on the shoulders of Angus’ father who looms large in our family. He was a man who drove change. Who had vision beyond his years. We think the generation that comes after us will share our vision, not just for 2.0 but in the other things we have planned for this wonderful Scheme.

The Scheme is in wonderful shape. This beautiful plant you’re looking at here now today. You can’t imagine just what a great job our forefathers did. We plan to do the same. We plan to stand proud on 2.0 so generations after generations will come and say those guys or those guys and girls from that time did a great job. Thank you all for coming today. Thank you to you Prime Minister. Thank you to my two shareholding Minister’s here. Let me tell you. Anyone thinks there’s an easy touch on this thing, I can tell you now, meeting these two guys, it was bare knuckle brawling. And it was very tough. So it should be when you invest dollars of this nature. You’ll want to be robust. Anyone that suggests anything else has totally got it wrong. So thank you all for coming. Thank you Prime Minister and we’ll catch you all soon.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you Paul. Can I also acknowledge Senator Molan who’s here, as you know, Jim has been a long time force here right across the Eden Monaro area and I want to thank you for being here today as well. So look, why don’t what we usually do and that let’s take questions on this project and then happy to deal with other matters of the day. Can I also acknowledge, as I did before, all the employees that are here today. You can see how excited they are. We’re excited with you. Tremendous to be here with you.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, this project you say is shovel ready. When will first megawatt of power come from this project?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I’ll ask both Paul and Angus to speak to that but as we were flying in here today - which I’ve got to say is one of the most spectacular vistas I’ve seen – and I’ve seen quite a bit. It really was breathtaking. But Paul said within a week, there’s going to be work being done. Within a week. Now this is a huge project and they can take you through the timetables of when these projects come online. And they take many years to get to where you’re actually generating power. I mean, you’ve got to start somewhere and we start this week. But Paul, would you want to speak to that? Thanks Paul.

PAUL BROAD: Yeah the plan is the project will be online in ‘24, maybe early ‘25. But the first bit of power we hope to be out here in about October, November ‘24. We are shovel ready. Early works will start in the next four days. So the road works down [inaudible] we’re going to build the, where the village is going to be. Early works into the [inaudible] will be starting straight away.  

JOURNALIST: So the metre or the megawatts will tick over in 2024 then?

PAUL: That’s it.

JOURNALIST: If Liddell goes offline in 2022, are we in a bit of a gap there then? With enough generation? 

PRIME MINISTER: Well the New South Wales Government has a range of options available to it particularly with what they’re doing on transmission lines when it comes to accessing [inaudible] for New South Wales. And those are questions that really have to be addressed to the New South Wales Government about how they will be managing that. Our job here is to ensure in the areas where we have the opportunity to effectively firm the nation’s, particularly the east coast, power supply – we do just that. And that’s what this project is all about. If you want to transition over time to renewable future, for energy. Then you need… you cannot do it without stations like this. And stations like in Tasmania. I mean because as we all know, the wind does not blow all the time and the sun does not always shine. And it’s these projects that the battery we’re talking about here is just immense. And that firms, firms the renewable power investments that we make in other types of renewable power because this will be here to back it up when those power sources fail.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, when the business case was released originally, two key chapters were redacted which meant many of your backbench couldn’t actually see how this stacked up. Now trusting you that this actually does stack up, can you say what you’ll roughly buy the power for and what you will sell it for?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I’ll Mathias work through the business case for you and how the decision was taken or Paul can do that.

PAUL BROAD: As you know, we did a deal just before Christmas when we announced 888 megawatts of renewables and the average price for buying that was $40 and the peak price in the market gets somewhere around $100 – so you’re roughly buying for $40, roughly selling at a $100. So a $60 spread which drives the economics. Now they’re very conservative numbers. As you were seeing two weekends ago, there were negative prices in the market so we haven’t even factored that part into it. So taken the numbers we know are solid, the deals are done and signed up. 888 megawatts of renewables today. So we’ll do those deals and that will roughly be what the pumping price will be in our models – and roughly the selling price.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister one of the problems with this is that it originally wasn’t viable because electricity was so cheap. It’s only now that electricity is so expensive that this project is viable. Is it natural to say that we’ll never see electricity prices get back to where they were otherwise this wouldn’t be viable?

PRIME MINISTER: No, no…

PAUL BROAD: Can I just say something on that? The coal price today, to generate just to cover the black coal price in New South Wales, to generate… just the coal price is $56. In those days when you had very low price and a massive oversupply and coal price were nothing like that. So as coal prices have increased, particularly black coal, so the average marginal cost of generation has gone up. Now most of the generation still comes from coal plans – 74 per cent of the market is still supplied by coal. As renewable is coming in, the prices are coming down. As we said the other day when we did the deal on renewables and firmed it up, so that’s equivalent to baseload, we firming that in sub-seventy. We think that price is going to look like sub-sixties. So in the next five-ten years, we think there is downward pressure on prices. The MJA model, which we’ve done independently of us, they’ve modelled this thing going out to 2050. They’re saying the downward pressure on prices, as the Minister said, is roughly 10 per cent. So what we’re doing here, and what the Prime Minister and Ministers have announced is not only just on renewables but is putting increased competition in the wholesale market to deliver up for consumers a lower price. 

MATHIAS CORMANN: The key is, this project will help make renewable energy supplies more affordable and more reliable. That is at the core, that is the whole point. When you’ve got a reliance on solar and wind energy and the sun does not shine, the wind does not blow, that leads not only to reliability issues, it also leads to spikes in prices. What this enables you to do is to make sure that you have a back-up, which is environmentally efficient, which will help obviously lower those price peaks, so that across the board, the energy supplies are not only more reliable but also more affordable and it adds to the competitive piece, which will improve the market overall. So it is a very substantial and very important investment, both in terms of ensuring that our economy can have access to reliable, affordable energy, but also, in making sure that this is something that stacks up financially.

PRIME MINISTER: In short, without this project, electricity prices will be higher.

JOURNALIST: Will families, though, experience cheaper power bills because of Snowy 2.0?

PRIME MINISTER: Well let’s be clear that already, already under the national energy market prices that we’re seeing now are lower than they have been. So that is already occurring. You need to understand that this project fits into a broader plan for energy across Australia. This is one component of it. I’ve also made mention of the Battery of the Nation which is a similar project, pumped hydro down in Tasmania. Now what we announced yesterday on the Marinus interconnector, there is 400 megawatts just sitting there in Tasmania at the moment that can’t make its way to the mainland. Now that would have been very helpful when Victoria had their crisis a little while ago. And so whether it’s the MarinusLink, whether it’s the battery project, whether it’s this project and everything else which is being done on the LRET and SRE and all of these projects. All of that is working together to ensure that we have downward pressure on electricity prices.

One of the most significant thing that happened late last year was when Angus was over to get the agreements of the states and territories to enter into the reliable energy guarantee. Now, this is a critically important part of energy policy. What that means is you’ll have a higher degree of, a higher proportion, of reliable energy contracted into the energy market whereas currently that type of reliable supply enters the market at inflated prices because of shortfalls that may occur from time to time. So what the reliable energy guarantee, which this Government authored, that was taken through the states and territories late last year. Josh Frydenberg had previously worked on that as the Energy Minister. I’d been involved in that as the Treasurer. Previously Malcolm Turnbull has been involved. You can’t cherry pick just one element of this plan. This is a comprehensive plan. It’s a comprehensive plan to ensure we have a reliable, sustainable energy future. It is also a plan to ensure that Australia continues to meet its environmental commitments both today and into the future.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what is the total cost estimate… what is the total cost estimate of this project and can you guarantee there won’t be blowouts because of the complexity?

PRIME MINISTER: I’ll ask other Ministers to comment. But obviously our equity contribution here is just under $1.4 billion.

MATHIAS CORMANN: So the feasibility study identified a cost range of $3.8 billion to $4.5 billion and the advice we’ve got is that that is still the most reliable estimate. Looking at the contracts that have been led by Snowy Hydro so far, we’re very confident that it will come in within that range. In terms of the financing of it, as the Prime Minister said, we will be contributing an equity contribution of just under $1.4 billion and the company will be responsible independently for the financing of the remainder of the project costs through a combination of internally generated cash flows and debt financing. But with an internal rate of return, a projected internal rate of return in excess of 8 per cent, we are very comfortable that this is completely viable. In fact, our expectation is that the company will continue to pay dividends to the Government, as its shareholder, all the way through the construction phase.

PRIME MINISTER:  [Inaudible] Now, we didn’t get here today because someone just drove around on a ute and had a bit of a look around and say ‘I reckon’. That’s not what happened. What Paul’s team has been doing to work out the proposal... He was showing me on the way in where they were dropping the bores along the route which the tunnel will go so they could understand the geology they are going to have to drill through, so they can understand what that cost will be. We have been on this job for two years to get to this point. That’s a lot of homework that’s been done to go into the estimates upon which we have made our investment decision today and again I want to thank Paul and his entire team who have done the real hard work that enables the government to make a decision like this.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you’re a numbers man. How many coal fired power stations could you build with $1.4 billion?

PRIME MINISTER: Well you put Battery of the Nation together with this project that’s around three. That’s the same as about three. Both of them are reliable power generation but this one has lower emissions.

JOURNALIST: And that is what you are comfortable with, lower emissions over lower prices?

MATHIAS CORMANN: Lower prices.

PRIME MINISTER: Lower emissions, lower prices and reliability. That’s what I’m looking for. This is the objective. This is what the Australian people also want.

JOURNALIST: But this isn’t real fair dinkum power for you, is it?

PRIME MINISTER: No it is, it’s absolutely fair dinkum power. It doesn’t get more fair dinkum than this. This is fair dinkum. A hundred percent.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what about the cost of updating the transmission network to make the most of this power? Do we have estimates of that and who will pay for that?

PRIME MINISTER: I’ll ask Paul… do you want to talk about that? Because the transmission issue goes through a normal process through the regulator and there are state governments that have particular responsibilities.

MINISTER TAYLOR: Yeah look, we’re going through reviews regularly now of transmission upgrades and there will be transmission upgrades. They need to stand alone. They need to work on their own. Stand on their own two feet as viable investments and that will certainly be the case with the transmission lines that will support Snowy. There is a need for extra transmission just to support Snowy as it is. So that work is being done independently but it’s going to stand on its own two feet.

JOURNALIST: Minister Price, we haven’t had a chance to speak with you since this reset of energy and environment policy. The NEG was a very clear plan that voters understood. How would you articulate quite concisely the Government’s energy and environment policy?

MINISTER PRICE: Well I think they are very complimentary. I mean we already see in the electricity sector, you know the next three years the contribution of renewables to the energy space is going to be about 250 per cent. But we’ve heard today is yes we’ve got our $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Fund, which there are many elements to that and ensuring we turn the lights on, the lights come on. That’s what we’re here talking about today. Lower emissions but reliability, making sure that the system works and we’re very proud of that.

JOURNALIST: Minister, what would you say to criticisms that you’ve been absent when the government has announced the environmental policy they’re taking to the next election?

PRIME MINISTER: The criticism are untrue. It’s the usual sort of froth and bubble that comes out of the bubble.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you acknowledge Malcolm Turnbull’s role in getting this rolling.

PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely.

JOURNALIST: Yesterday you announced an extension of Tony Abbott’s Direct Action Plan. Will we see any more ideas coming directly from you on environment?

PRIME MINISTER: You seem to forget the fact I’ve been in the Government for the last five and a half years and have played a key role in all of these decisions actually as a Minister, as a Treasurer. And particularly on the energy sub-committee of Cabinet that the former Prime Minister actually put in place where these projects emanated from. So I’ve been pleased to be playing a role in all of this and I’m also pleased to acknowledge the significant work done by my predecessors. I was in contact with Malcolm last night and he was very thrilled about the announcement we are making today and I’ve seen him make those comments today. It took his vision to see this and unearth those drawings. I probably won’t trouble the engineers as much here today as he might have normally…

With his technical knowledge of the topic. But what I like is the numbers and how they stack up as a former Treasurer and Malcolm and I had a lot to do with each other on this project and when we first talked about ensuring that the Commonwealth, when I was Treasurer, would be able to take on Snowy 100 per cent. As Paul and I were discussion today, without that I don’t think we would be standing here today. That was a key decision that we took and it required us to enter into arrangements with both the New South Wales and Victorian state governments which the Treasury was directly involved in at the time and I led that process. I’ve always been happy to be part of the team, whether I’m sitting in the team or I’m leading the team as I am today.

JOURNALIST: Paul mentions there was ‘bare knuckle brawling’ to get this underway. What was the Government’s reservations?

PRIME MINISTER: We just want to make sure it was commercially stacking up. I mean, that’s what you would expect, that’s what the Australian people would expect of us. I mean, as I say, we weren’t going to sign it off on the basis of people running around on a ute and saying ‘I reckon’. That’s not how we do things.

JOURNALIST: So what’s the case of break glass, election imminent we need environment policy – something we can…

PRIME MINISTER: No, I think that’s very unfair.

MATHIAS CORMANN: Let me give you a little bit of a contrast. When the Rudd Government first, out of Opposition, decided to roll out the NBN, their business plan was written up on the back of a beer coaster. We went through a very thorough process. We make no apologies for that. We went through the feasibility process. We engaged with the board and with the management in relation to that and ultimately, we wanted to see a business case that, yes, stacked up in terms of delivering the affordable, more reliable energy supplies into the future, in a way that would underpin environmentally, more efficient energy supplies into the future, but we also wanted to see that the numbers stacked up and that we had the best, most appropriate financial model on behalf of taxpayers. Inevitably, that involves a level of engagement and discussions and scrutinising of all the facts and figures. You do not just accept as given all of the assumptions that are put to you, these things inevitably get scrutinised. What I can say to Australians is they can have great confidence that this project stacks up. We absolutely scrutinised it thoroughly and with a microscope. So it’s a great day because it is a project that will deliver for Australians, in terms of reliable, affordable energy, but it will also stack up financially.

JOURNALIST: Paul, if I could just ask you. You mentioned negative prices on power for when wind is up and that is when it is a key juncture. Couldn’t that then destroy the market place…

PAUL BROAD: Not at all. Actually, what happened is with 2.0, they obviously want to pick the bottom of the troughs in the off peaks so when the winds blowing a lot you set a floor in the market price. It underpins those investments. It makes them look more sound. So we’ll be using enormous amount of energy when there’s excess. When there’s excess wind or excess sun. Or even excess baseload generation as there is today. So we buy from the market at the most competitive price to underpin the public. We do it here today in T3. The largest pump hydro, you’re looking at it.

JOURNALIST: The International Monetary Fund has predicted we’re going to have flat wage growth for around six years. Are you concerned by that? What can you do to remedy that and how do you respond to it?

PRIME MINISTER: Well the first response is a stronger economy. You’re not going to get stronger wage growth if you don’t have a stronger economy. And you’re not going get a stronger economy if you put $200 billion of higher taxes on the economy, which is what Bill Shorten and Labor are going to do if they’re elected. I mean, that will throw a big, wet blanket on the Australian economy. And that will dampen wages. The other thing you don’t want to do is you don’t go and put a 45 per cent emission reduction target on the Australian economy. Now, our figure’s 26 per cent. We’ve made that very clear. I set out yesterday how I get to 26 per cent. I did it literally, literally by tonne. How we will meet that target in the same way we met the 2020 target. Turning around Labor’s emissions deficit by 1.1 billion tonne of abatement. That what we achieved. We haven’t just turned around their fiscal deficit. We’ve turned around their climate deficit where we’ve been able to improve the situation by 1.1 billion tonnes. Now, what Labor have not done is told the country how they will get to that 45 per cent emissions reduction target. People can disagree with me, whether it should be 26 or 45. But I’ve made it very clear how I get to 26 per cent. How our team gets to 26 per cent. The onus is on Bill Shorten now to explain to the Australian people how does he reach his 45 per cent emissions reduction target. And using the exact same methodology I have, that means he would need three times the amount of abatement – actually more than three times – the amount of abatement by 2030. So what does that mean for jobs? What does it mean for wages? You ask about wages. $9000 a year worse off as a result of Bill Shorten’s…

JOURNALIST: That’s a long time without a pay rise.

PRIME MINISTER: …Emissions reduction target. Well and under Bill Shorten – they won’t get anything.

JOURNALIST: No, it’s not about Bill.

PRIME MINISTER: No, no it is about Bill Shorten.

JOURNALIST: What are you going to do?

PRIME MINISTER: Stronger economy. We’ve had record jobs growth and the corner has been turned on wages growth, that’s not just me saying that. That’s the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia. We’re now back over two per cent in terms of real wage growth in this country… in terms of wage growth in this country. And it wasn’t that long ago that it was sub 2 per cent – on the right side of 2 per cent. We are seeing that firming. But I tell you, you will not get stronger wages growth if you weaken the Australian economy. It is a fairly obvious point. And when you apply $200 billion of higher taxes and a 45 per cent emissions reduction target, you are turning the lights off on the Australian economy. And you will not get higher wages under Bill Shorten. All you’ll get is higher taxes. Thanks very much everyone.

[ENDS]

Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance and the Public Service, Perth