Australian Prime Minister Radio interview – ABC Radio National Breakfast

Prime Minister

Well, of course, there is a big contest now over energy policy. In fact, some have described it as a referendum on energy policy and on nuclear. The Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, joins me now. Prime Minister, welcome.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Good morning.

KARVELAS: The transition to renewables is taking longer and it’s costing more than many Australians anticipated. Do you acknowledge that some voters are losing faith in that transition?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, there’s been a 25 per cent increase in renewables in the grid since we came to office. There’s been record investment in batteries and storage. We’ve seen 330,000 additional rooftops have solar panels on them. Because households recognise that it makes sense for households to reduce their energy bills by having renewable energy. And just as it makes sense for an individual household, it makes sense for our national economy as well. That’s why we’ve approved 50 major renewable energy projects right around the country. And we know that it’s the cheapest form of new energy. According to the CSIRO, up to eight times. Up to eight times cheaper to have the renewables with firming capacity compared with nuclear. What we just heard from Angus Taylor is an example of how this policy has fallen apart within 24 hours. There’s no costings, there’s no serious timeframe, there’s no proportion of how much nuclear will be as part of their energy system, there’s no details on what type of reactor. And the absurdity of Angus Taylor speaking about hypotheticals. Well, is it hypothetical or is it real? Are these seven sites going to get nuclear reactors imposed on them, must be said, sometime two decades away. But still, that’s what they’re saying. Is the consultation process just going through the motions? They can’t say whether they haven’t provided a real one or not.

KARVELAS: Prime Minister, sorry to interrupt, but I have to. They haven’t provided the modelling. They say they will. There will be costings. We haven’t seen them yet. That is correct. And they don’t dispute that. But you did provide some costings before the last election and they didn’t end up being right. You said there’d be a $275 reduction in our power bills and that didn’t happen, hasn’t happened. Doesn’t it show that modelling is rather unreliable?

PRIME MINISTER: No, we showed modelling. What happened was there was a Russian invasion of Ukraine and there was a global increase in energy costs that affected every single western economy and that saw inflation in some countries like the UK hit double digits. That’s just something that happened. That is a fact. But what you have here is something that I’ve never seen before. I mean, this is just a fantasy. Instead of Snow White and the seven dwarves, this is Peter Dutton and the seven nuclear reactors. This is just absurd to have a big build up for an announcement and then say, ‘Oh well, we’ll give you the details’. I’ll make this prediction. I’ll make this prediction. All the details won’t be out there before the election. It will be, ‘Just trust me’. Just the same as Peter Dutton has said that the 2030 target when it comes to emissions reduction, ‘Oh well, we’ll let you know all of that after the election’. This is a political party that had 22 different energy policies when they were in government. Not one of them mentioned nuclear. They’ve just come out of office two years ago. They didn’t mention it for the previous decade because it doesn’t make sense. They spent a decade saying coal would continue. They’d have new coal fired power stations as well. And none of that happened. And we are cleaning up their mess.

KARVELAS: Prime Minister, isn’t the problem, though, that the Coalition has been setting the terms of the debate and the agenda. You’re on the program. You’re talking about their policy right now, right?

PRIME MINISTER: You’re asking me about it, Patricia, because it was released yesterday.

KARVELAS: My bigger point, Prime Minister, because I still want to make it, if that’s okay. The point is they have set the terms of the debate and in the latest Newspoll it shows that something is working. Isn’t there a fundamental problem with the message on renewables and energy that you’re sending, which is deeper rooted in the community?

PRIME MINISTER: No, Patricia, in a word, what we’ve done is have one policy, one policy and we have landed it. We said we would have an emissions reduction target of 43 per cent by 2030 and net zero by 2050. And we’ve legislated it. We said we’d do it through the safeguard mechanism which was established first by Greg Hunt when he was the Minister many years ago. And we landed that and legislated that. We have had a suite of policies that we are implementing. And that has provided business with the certainty to invest. What this is, is a recipe for an economic catastrophe. This will have, because it’s government-owned as well, it’s an important concession by a Liberal Party that normally rejects government ownership. Why have they done that? Because no investor, no financier will go near this with a barge pole because it doesn’t stack up. Every cost blowout will be on the shoulder of Australian taxpayers of this plan.

KARVELAS: So, Prime Minister, as we go into a debate that’s going to be very focused on these policies and these competing ideas, are you going to raise in the debate issues around safety with nuclear reactors or are you squarely worried about the economics?

PRIME MINISTER: The primary concern I have is that this is a recipe for higher costs, lower reliability. And these major cracks in their nuclear reactor plan will mean that Peter Dutton is taking a radioactive sledgehammer to the Australian economy. And Australian families will pay. That’s the reason why they are saying that these will be government-owned because no financier will touch it.

KARVELAS: And you’re not worried about the safety?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, there’s answers to be given by the Coalition there. Everyone knows.

KARVELAS: Just in terms of the arguments you’ll be making, are you worried about safety?

PRIME MINISTER: Everyone knows, everyone knows that there have been issues with nuclear reactors. Everyone knows those stories. And that’s why I noticed Peter Dutton yesterday was talking about house prices in Lucas Heights not being affected. I’ll give him the tip. He should travel down there. There are no houses with Lucas Heights in their address. None. None. That’s just a fun fact for Peter Dutton to actually compute. Because what we have here is no facts from the Coalition, just a ‘Trust us’, when we know that even the International Energy Agency, which makes it clear that nuclear has a role in Europe and other countries, do not have a role here.

KARVELAS: Prime Minister, we are out of time. Thank you for your time.

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