Topics: 2019 Federal election result, resources sector, emissions targets
Kieran Gilbert: Joining me now is Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews. Minister, thanks so much for your time. First of all, congratulations on the win and being sworn in again yesterday.
Karen Andrews: Thank you. Yes, yes, look I was delighted with the win. And it’s interesting because so many people have come up to me post-election and said we are so pleased the Coalition was re-elected. I mean it’s just been an astounding feedback that we’ve received from just so many people.
Kieran Gilbert: Well, your part of the world, Gold Coast, is you know Liberal heartland but we saw in Queensland the vote for the Coalition hold up and in fact swings to the Coalition. The LNP in a number of marginal seats where we thought it would be a toss of the coin, it ended up being double digit margins. What do you – was it all about Adani?
Karen Andrews: Look, it was about real people being concerned about having real jobs into the future. The resources sector is so important to Queensland, it’s so important to all Australians. The mining sector, the resources sector, played out really well and positively for us in Central and Northern Queensland because there you have people that are concerned about jobs for themselves, jobs for their kids, jobs for their grandkids. So we were able to demonstrate support for the resources sector nationally, but particularly in Queensland and we supported the quiet Australians that Scott Morrison speaks about all the time. So –
Kieran Gilbert: – When you talk about that, you know, before we move on from the resources sector and Queensland more generally- because there is- what’s your view in the sense of climate change as a matter that- is it still a matter of importance to Queenslanders generally? Is it- I mean obviously we’re generalising here, but in a political sense is it still a potent issue?
Karen Andrews:Look, a couple of things. Firstly, climate change is real. I absolutely accept that. Broadly I think people are very concerned about the environment and doing the right thing for the environment. In Queensland we have the Great Barrier Reef, which is just so important to Queensland. About 64,000 jobs are dependent on the Great Barrier Reef. So there is support for us doing the right things environmentally as well. But people also need jobs. So 64,000 jobs dependent on the reef alone, but the mining and the resources sector also provides significant work opportunities as well. And I think it’s getting the balance right.
Kieran Gilbert: Okay, so it’s something that you’ve still got to deal with obviously credibly in this term of government. The Prime Minister says- has interestingly used his authority to put emissions reduction back with energy and that, so I guess a sign of commitment to it. But we’ve seen this release of an update on our national emissions and they’ve continued to rise. Are you- what do you say to that, because I know Matt Canavan says it’s because the LNG industry’s cranking up. That’s why we’ve seen this spike. But that’s not the trend we want if we’re going to meet those targets.
Karen Andrews: So we use the UN methodology to calculate what our emissions are, so that’s widely recognised as the methodology that needs to be used. We have increased in a couple of areas which are very significant for us. One is with the LNG, which under the UN methodology we have to account for that even though it’s being exported. So when it’s exported it actually contributes to a decline in the emissions because you emit less when you’re burning gas for fuel than what you do burning coal for fuel. So we have to account for it here in Australia. So that’s why there’s been an increase in that. The other one that’s made quite a big difference and has pushed emission up is transport, and that’s why our policy has got a couple of parts to it. And one of those is an electric vehicle strategy. But our policy and our intention is very different to what Labor announced during the election campaign. So we won’t be mandating. What we will be doing is developing an electric vehicle strategy but we’ll do that through proper consultation with stakeholders –
Kieran Gilbert: – Okay, but if you want to meet those targets you would want the trajectory to come down soon, wouldn’t you?
Karen Andrews: And the Department of Environment has been very clear and has published documents that make it very clear that we are on track to meet the targets that we have set. So that is very positive news for us. But there is still more work to be done. So we need to look at transport, we need to look at what we’re doing with the burning of fossil fuels here. But importantly we also need to look at adaptation and mitigation strategies. Now we talked about the reef. We do know that there are bleaching events happening on the reef. What’s happening that is causing problems is that the bleaching events are closer together than what they need to be for there to be regeneration on the Great Barrier Reef. So our science agencies such as the Australian Institute of Marine Science are looking at mitigation strategies: so how are they able to lengthen the amount of time between bleaching events which gives the coral the opportunity to regenerate? So we also need to look very, very closely at mitigating the effects of climate change. It’s not just a single issue with a single response.
Kieran Gilbert: Sure, no.
Karen Andrews: It’s got multiple parts to it.
Kieran Gilbert: And finally, Matt Canavan, your colleague the Resources Minister, has criticised the oil and gas companies over their demand for a carbon price. What’s your message to them but also the energy sector as well, because there are a number of these large companies that want some certainty in terms of how they operate within framework of having to reduce their emissions?
Karen Andrews: Well instead of talking about businesses and big businesses and what they might actually want, let’s talk about the people of Australia and what they need and what they want. And where energy is concerned, they want lower prices. They want reliability. They want some stability as well too. They want to know what the big energy companies are going to be doing. But first and foremost, the people of Australia deserve the lowest possible electricity prices that we can provide to them. So let’s focus on that, rather than going off on a tangent.
Kieran Gilbert: But it’s also about having certainty in policy as well, isn’t it …because that’s- part of – that’s contributed to the uncertainty out of Canberra in the last decade or so.
Karen Andrews: Well our policy, particularly in regard to carbon pricing, has been abundantly clear for a very long period of time. It’s all well and good for these large businesses, energy providers, resources sector to come out with what their view is but let’s actually look at how we start getting prices down because that impacts day-to-day Australians.
Kieran Gilbert: Minister, I appreciate your time. Congrats again on the win.
Karen Andrews: Pleasure.
Kieran Gilbert: See you soon.