Subjects: Australia National Outlook report 2019
Laura Jayes: Power bills could cost around 60 per cent less by 2060 if the government pursues energy efficiencies and low emissions technologies. That’s one of the findings in the CSIRO’s national outlook, which compares two versions of the nation in 2060. One where economic and social challenges are tackled head-on and another where they are not. Joining me now is the Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews.
Karen Andrews, thanks so much for your time. The CSIRO has set out a road-map here. How much of it will the government adopt?
Karen Andrews: Well, the report that is being released today by the CSIRO and also NAB, does set out two scenarios. And let’s be clear, they’re not predictions, they don’t have a crystal ball. But what they have done is looked at the last couple of years, worked closely with some key organisations including not-for-profits, and have looked at two scenarios. One is pretty much
a steady-as-she-goes with no changes, which would lead to a slow decline. The other is what I would now call the opportunities for Australia, which looks at if we got the economic levers correctly in place – which we are clearly doing as a Coalition government – we would have the opportunity to build a very positive agenda for this nation.
Now, you’ve mentioned energy. That’s a clear part of it. But the report also looks at a range of other factors. It looks at land use, it looks at things such as technology. It looks at education, it looks at what the scenarios are going to be to skill our workforce for the future. There are some
very positive levers there that the government is already starting to use and will continue to use. So for example, Alan Tudge is doing some great work with our cities. The report from CSIRO and NAB and others clearly looks at growth of our cities, the need to look at what they refer to as satellite cities. And we’ve got some examples of that happening already in Sydney where you’ve got Western Sydney clearly as a satellite part of Sydney.
Now the report also does talk about housing and the fact that Australia does have relatively low density housing, which means that it does contribute to the urban sprawl but it feeds into the narrative that we need to look at the satellite cities and we need to look at connectivity between those satellite cities and the major metropolitan areas.
Laura Jayes: Sure, okay. That does back in your big infrastructure agenda that you took to the electorate quite conveniently …
Karen Andrews: Certainly does, certainly does.
Laura Jayes: … but I do want to focus on energy where there’s been, you know, a decade where it’s been lacking seriously in bipartisanship. Now this report suggests Australia could reach net zero emissions by 2050. Is that something you would like to see?
Karen Andrews: Look, I’m clearly focused on the science. I’m going to work with our Energy Minister Angus Taylor to deliver what is in the best interests of Australia. Now I’m happy to talk about the elephant in the room, which is coal. We clearly have coal-fired power stations now. They will be part of our energy mix for some time into the future. But Angus Taylor is also doing
some great work looking at alternatives. So we’ve been out. He’s looking at about I believe 12 projects. We’re looking at things such as, you know, the Snowy 2.0 which is hydro. I have also announced some projects that we will be looking at for future batteries …
Laura Jayes: … Sure …
Karen Andrews: … We’re looking at …
Laura Jayes: … but in order to achieve …
Karen Andrews: … there are a range of opportunities …
Laura Jayes: … this net zero emissions by 2050, is the government doing enough at this stage or will there need to be a lot more projects in order to meet what the CSIRO says is achievable
Karen Andrews: I think that we have made a very, very good start on that. There’s obviously more work that needs to be done. And what that report is doing is looking from now through until 2060 so it’s quite some time into the future. The report looks at a couple of things. It talks about hydrogen energy, hydrogen fuel cells, we’re developing that …
Laura Jayes: … Nuclear? What do you think about nuclear?
Karen Andrews: Well, nuclear’s been quite topical and I know that the Deputy Premier of New South Wales has been out talking recently about opportunities for nuclear power. I don’t have an issue with it being considered but I’m currently more focused on looking at things such as hydrogen energy, hydrogen fuel cells and our Chief Scientist has already been doing a lot of work on that, as has the CSIRO. The CSIRO – and it’s mentioned in this report – is also doing a lot with methane reduction, with livestock, looking at future feed which is based on seaweed which reduces the amount of methane produced from livestock. So there’s a lot of things that are happening that are going to play into emissions into the future and reducing those emissions. So my role is to look at the science and make sure that science is taken into account when we’re looking at policies across a range of areas including energy.
Laura Jayes: Yeah, it sure is. And to look at- in the energy space, I mean, there’s a lot of argument on both side about whether coal is sustainable, about whether renewables are the future. Do you think renewables could stand on their own two feet without subsidy? And if they can’t, when do you think that might be achievable?
Karen Andrews: Well look, renewables is an issue that is worthy of debate. It’s clearly mentioned in the ANO report as it should. And let’s be clear, that report is not intended to be definitive. It is intended to be a discussion-starter. So I’m very happy to have those discussions. We all should
be having those discussions about what Australia’s future looks like.
Laura Jayes: Well, what is it? What does it look like in your view?
Karen Andrews: In my view, Australia has an incredibly positive outlook and that’s reinforced by a lot of things that are in that report. There are some challenges. We are looking at technology, increasing the adoption of technology. And one of the things that we announced during the election campaign was the establishment of the manufacturing modernisation fund, and that will be looking at making sure that our manufacturing industry is looking at technology so that they can improve their efficiencies and their productivity. And that will be what a key driver is of our future.
Laura Jayes: Okay. We’ll speak soon. We’ve run out of time this morning.
Karen Andrews, thanks so much for your time.