Transcripts → 2021


Doorstop - Leabrook SA

Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for South Australia


Date: Saturday, 13 November 2021

Emissions reductions technologies; EVs; Taiwan; Christian Porter; Low income tax offset

Simon Birmingham:  Thanks very much for coming today. Over recent weeks, the Morrison Government has released our updated targets in relation to climate change. Further new policies in relation to addressing climate change and the detailed modelling that underpins those policies and targets. Crucially, we are one of the few countries in the world to have released detailed plans, underpinned by detailed modelling to achieve net zero by 2050. We know it's not easy and we're clear in the principles that will guide us there. Our principles being that we will invest in technology, create incentives and drive change through establishing more choice for Australian businesses and consumers and creating more opportunities for other countries in the world to adopt more cost effective technologies as a result of our international partnerships and our investments. We won't get there through new taxes, through additional mandates or through putting in place requirements that simply push Australians out of jobs, out of business, out of work, without having created the alternative industries and the additional opportunities for the future. We're clear in terms of the stretch targets that we're investing in, in seeking to achieve ultra-low cost solar. In achieving hydrogen power for the future. In achieving green steel and aluminium. In helping our farmers to achieve soil carbon. In pursuing the potential of carbon capture, use and storage. All of these are crucial technologies underpinned by further policies announced even just in the last few days in terms of our commitment to support the infrastructure necessary for Australia to make a transition to low emissions vehicles, electric vehicles, hybrids and hydrogen powered cars, as well as ensuring that we get the business uptake and investment in terms of new businesses, start-ups and those pursuing clean energy, low emissions technology business opportunities through a new $1 billion fund to be managed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. 
All of it coming on top of the many billions of dollars we've already outlined some $20 billion plus in public funding and support between now and 2030, leveraging more than $80 billion of total investment. Seeing the private sector step up and help to provide the transformation that we want Australia to play a leading role in, but want to make sure we do that in ways that protect Australian jobs and interests as well.


Journalist: So the modelling only shows a path towards 85 per cent. What's going to make up the 15 per cent difference to net zero?


Simon Birmingham: So we are one of the few countries in the world to have released this type of detailed modelling. Nobody can say for certainty what will occur between now and 2050, but we have outlined what we think provides the most credible path to protect Australian jobs and achieve emissions reductions. But there will be technological changes between now and 2050 over the next 28 years that none of us can foresee today, and it will be the embrace and adoption of those new additional technological changes that will see many governments between now and 2050 update that modelling, update those projections and be able to include new technologies as part of the pathway to achieving net zero.


Journalist: You’re saying you're not sure exactly what the new technologies will be?


Simon Birmingham: Can you tell me what will happen between now and 2050?


Journalist: I'm not in Government.


Simon Birmingham: Sure, but I don't think you could reasonably expect anybody to predict every technological advance that will happen between now and 2050 over the next 28 years. If we think back over what has been achieved over the last 28 years in technological change. It is quite an amazing feat of human accomplishment. We know that over the next 28 years, there will be many more advances of human knowledge and accomplishment, and it will be those advances in technologies that will see many governments between now and 2050. Update modelling update projections based on the advance of those new technologies.


Journalist: So you're banking on a breakthrough, but you can't say in which field or, you know, which technology? You don't know-


Simon Birmingham: We are one of the few countries in the world to actually have even attempted to map out the pathway to 2050.


Journalist: We're not saying you're banking on something you don't know, you're banking on a mystery breakthrough to get to net zero?


Simon Birmingham: There will be many changes in technology that happen between now and 2050 over the next to 28 years. Anybody who thinks they can predict everything that happens over the next 28 years is kidding themselves. What we are seeking to do is invest in all of the different areas of knowledge and protection that we can see for Australia to play a leading role today, knowing that there will be updates over that 28 year horizon to help us get there, help the rest of the world get there and crucially, hopefully to help countries such as the three out of four biggest emitters China, Russia and India, all of whom have not yet made net zero by 2050 commitments, to come on board and to make those commitments to as a result of achieving those sorts of technological breakthroughs.


Journalist: So the modelling forecasts of 90 per cent of vehicles will be electric by that by that time. Why, then, did the government run a scare campaign at the last election against electric vehicles?


Simon Birmingham: What the government opposed to the last election was the Labor Party's policy in relation to electric vehicles. We've got some $1.2 billion worth of support around electric vehicle infrastructure and low emissions vehicle technology development, and many of those were in place at the last election. We've supplemented it with more than $200 million of additional policy announcements in the last week, and we've always wanted to see Australian consumers get the choice and the opportunity to embrace electric vehicles, low emissions vehicles technologies. That's what we're investing in. What we haven't wanted to see our mandates that forced the hand of Australian consumers into more expensive options or options that can impact upon them in ways before we get the best of those technologies available.


Journalist: The Prime Minister said they would end the weekend?


Simon Birmingham: The Prime Minister was talking about Labor Party's policy at the last election.


Journalist: Should the emissions reduction minister be out talking about the modelling, how come we haven't seen him? How come we're talking to you? Not that we don't enjoy talking to you.


Simon Birmingham: The emissions reductions minister has done a lot of interviews over the last few weeks in the lead up to his departure to Glasgow while in Glasgow and on his return to Glasgow.


Journalist: The modelling is out now and we'd like to ask him about it.


Simon Birmingham: And I'm sure he will be doing further interviews over coming days and weeks.


Journalist: What about the Prime Minister?


Simon Birmingham: Prime Minister equally has done countless interviews over the last few weeks and most recently as of yesterday.


Journalist: Taiwan. Do you agree with Peter Dutton that Australia should support any future [indistinct] military action to defend Taiwan?


Simon Birmingham: Our primary desire is to see peace and prosperity across the Indo-Pacific, including in the Taiwan Strait. That is crucial that we all continue to work towards that. Achieving that wise balance across our region requires the engagement of Australia and many of our partners across our region. And of course, we wish to see, we wish to see that peace and prosperity continue, and we urge all parties in relation to Taiwan to show restraint and to show respect for the arrangements [indistinct].


Journalist: And do you think Christian Porter should recontest his seat at the next election?


Simon Birmingham:  Christian has been endorsed as the as the Liberal candidate for Pearce. He continues to work hard on behalf of his electorate and if he chooses to run again, I've got no doubt he'll keep working hard for the people of Pearce.


Journalist: Would you encourage him to leave politics or stay?


Simon Birmingham:  Christian is a brilliant mind who has much to offer and also works very hard for his local community. But the decision is his.


Journalist: Is there room in the budget to extend the low income tax offset?


Simon Birmingham: We'll release next year's budget next year and in between now and then continue working on our economic recovery plan. It's a plan that is centred on a range of different areas of lower taxes. Australians can always bank on the fact that taxes will be lower under a Liberal National government than under a Labor government. That was clear at the last election, when Labor had hundreds of billions of dollars of additional taxes they were proposing for their policies. We know in recent times they've been talking behind closed doors about new taxes on family trusts to hit families and Australian households. We know that they remain doubtful about the future income tax cuts that the Coalition has committed to, which will see around 95 per cent of Australians paying no more than 30 cents in the dollar. And we will continue to explore every opportunity to keep taxes as low as possible, including when we come to looking at the next budget. Thanks, guys.