Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance and the Public Service
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
The Labor party has made some ridiculous and inaccurate statements today about our track record when it comes to our policies to effect emissions reductions. I am responding to those and then I am happy to take questions on other matters.
Australia is on track to exceed our 2020 emissions reduction target by 367 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions. When it comes to our 2030 target, the gap we need to cover in order to reach our 2030 emissions reduction target is down by about ninety per cent. It is down from about 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions, down to just over 320 odd million tonnes. So down around 90 per cent or three billion tonnes.
We are very confident that Australia has the mix of policies and technology improvements to ensure that as we have met and exceeded our past emissions reduction targets we will be able to achieve the same here.
It is important to note that we are on track to meet our emissions reduction targets across the national electricity market by 2022. That is eight years early, eight years before we have to reach that target by 2030.
I should also say that on a per capita basis and on a GDP basis our emissions are at their lowest level in 28 years.
Labor is talking a lot of rubbish when it comes to emissions reduction policies. Their own 45 per cent emissions reduction target has been shown by the independent climate change authority to require a carbon tax about five times size of Julia Gillard’s carbon tax. A carbon tax five times the size of Julia Gillard’s carbon tax would do one thing, it would harm the economy, it would send jobs overseas, because it would drive electricity prices up for families and for business.
We are pursuing sensible policies to do the best we can by the environment, the best we can to reduce emissions and to contribute to global efforts to reduce emissions in a way that is economically responsible and that does not recklessly harm the Australian economy, sending jobs overseas.
Happy to take questions.
QUESTION: Senator Cormann you said that emissions are at their lowest for 28 years is that in total or per capita?
MATHIAS CORMANN: On a per capita basis and on a GDP basis, emissions in Australia are at their lowest in 28 years. As I have indicated we are on track to exceed our 2020 emissions reduction target by 367 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. The gap that we need to cover in order to reach our 2030 emissions reduction target has reduced by about 90 per cent or by about 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions. It has gone down from about 3.3 billion tonnes to about 328 million tonnes.
QUESTION: How much do you think the environment and issues around emissions are on peoples’ minds as we head to new elections. Do you think it is a big deal for the Australian public do you think?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is a big deal for us. Of course people want to see us do the right thing by the environment. We are doing the right thing by the environment. But people also want to see us do the right thing by the environment in a way that is economically responsible. People in Australia will not thank us for imposing sacrifices on them, sending jobs overseas at their expense, if it does not actually help make a difference, because Labor’s agenda of a carbon tax which is five times as high as the carbon tax under Julia Gillard will just shift emissions, economic activity and jobs overseas. So it will force people here in Australia to accept and make a sacrifice that actually does not make any difference to our global environment. We are pursuing policies that are environmentally effective and economically responsible. That is precisely what the Australian people expect us to do.
QUESTION: So those Paris agreements you stand by?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are one hundred per cent committed to our Paris emissions reduction targets. One hundred per cent committed. We are very confident that with our mix of policies and technological improvements that we will meet and exceed the Paris target in the same way that we have met and exceeded the Kyoto targets.
QUESTION: But your own emissions projections report says you won’t meet 2030 in a canter.
MATHIAS CORMANN: As I have just indicated to you, the 2020 emissions reduction target we are on track to exceed by 367 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. In relation to the 2030 emissions reduction target bearing in mind that that is still eleven and a bit years away, we are very confident, given that the gap has already fallen by about ninety per cent from its peak. Given the gap has already fallen by 3 billion tonnes from the peak of 3.3 billion to about 328 million tonnes, we are very, very confident we will be able to cover that final stretch through our policies which are entirely scalable. Our policies are scalable and technological improvements will continue to make a positive difference. Importantly, across the national electricity market we are on track to meet our 2030 emissions reduction target by 2022, or eight years early.
QUESTION: Senator, you refer to carbon tax, do you think people understand the difference between a carbon price and a carbon tax?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Labor will try and give it all sorts of fancy names. But the truth is, if Labor is genuinely committed to its economically reckless 45 per cent emissions reduction target, then they will have to impose a carbon tax. Don’t take our word for it. The independent climate change authority, set up by the Gillard government incidentally, has indicated that in order to meet a 45 per cent emissions reduction target the carbon price, the carbon tax, name it whatever you like, would have to be five times higher than the carbon tax that was imposed under the Gillard government. People across Australia know that if you have to impose a carbon tax that is five times higher than the carbon tax under the Gillard government that can only mean one thing, higher electricity prices for families, for pensioners and for businesses across Australia. It also means sending economic activity and jobs overseas and into locations overseas where for the same amount of economic output emissions will be higher. So we would actually be asking Australian families, Australian workers to make a sacrifice here in Australia that does not make any difference to the global environment because it will just push economic activity into countries where for the same level of economic activity emissions would actually be higher.
QUESTION: Senator you are confident that emissions can be effectively reduced without some kind of price signal?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We are very confident that we have the right mix of policies with our emissions reduction fund and all of the other related policies to continue to meet our emissions reduction targets in the future as we have in the past. As I have said to you, our policy settings are scalable and can be adapted to what is required.
QUESTION: Sorry, just from Canberra here, is George Christensen a victim of a smear campaign?
MATHIAS CORMANN: George Christensen has made some statements which are self-explanatory. What we have seen in recent times is the Labor dirt unit in full swing. This is the way that Bill Shorten and the Labor party operates. We expect to see more of this in the weeks and months, as we approach the next election. But Mr Christensen has clearly stated what his position is in relation to these matters. I would refer you to that statement.
QUESTION: How did you react when you first heard these allegations emerge?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I was not aware of who it had related to because it was a very strange story I have to say. A story without a name, with a very broad allegation. Mr Christensen has made a decision to come out and explain very clearly what his take is on the matter. I refer you to that statement. Labor has for some time been very active through its dirt unit trying to spread smear. It is just another example of that.
QUESTION: When were you made aware of the investigation?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not aware of any investigation.
QUESTION: You are not aware that the Federal police …
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am only aware of what I have read in the paper. I have seen Mr Christensen’s statement. I am not aware of any other detail to the extent that there is other detail.
QUESTION: He has described it as a vile and gutless smear campaign what is your reaction to that?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I have just already indicated, this is a Labor smear campaign. It is something that we expect to see more of in the next few weeks and months.
QUESTION: What kind of a man is George Christensen? He says he has a Filipino fiancée and his visits were innocent ones.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Again, I refer you to his statement. He is a hard working Member, representing the community of Dawson in North Queensland to the best of his ability. He is presenting himself as the LNP candidate for re-election at the next election. We are hopeful that the people of Dawson will again express their confidence in him to be their voice in Canberra.
QUESTION: You expect to see more of this leading up to the election, this kind of stuff?
MATHIAS CORMANN: As I have indicated, the Labor party dirt unit is in full swing. This is how Bill Shorten does business. We expect to see more of this.
QUESTION: As we head towards the election, what do you think will be the key messages for the Coalition here in WA. Labor seems to be fairly confident it will pick up at least three seats. It is not over yet for the Coalition in WA?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Labor party is incredibly cocky. They think that they have already won the next election. I was around back in 2001 when the Labor party supposedly was going to win very seat other than Curtin and Tangney. That of course did not happen. We held all of the seats we held then and won the seat of Canning off the Labor party. We are not going to take anything for granted. We are the party that stands for a stronger economy, more jobs and better opportunities for Australian families to get ahead. People here in Western Australia understand that Bill Shorten’s high taxing, anti-business, drag down politics of envy type agenda would make our country and our State weaker and would make Australian families poorer. We will fight very hard for our agenda, which demonstrably delivered stronger growth, more jobs and a better opportunity for families around Australia to get ahead and which has got the Budget in a position where we can sustainably fund all of the important services Australians expect. We will run on our track record, on our agenda for the future and we will be pointing out that this is not the time to risk our future economic prosperity on Bill Shorten.
QUESTION: The ousting of Mr Turnbull doesn’t seem to have improved the two party preferred vote. If anything it is a bit worse. Do you reinforce what I think you have said before that perhaps it wasn’t the right way to go in the end?
MATHIAS CORMANN: That is not what I have said. I will leave the commentary and the speculation to you. No doubt you will do that.
Thank you very much.