SUBJECT/S: Energy Intensity Scheme, Economy.


HOST: Joel Fitzgibbon, thanks for joining me this afternoon. Labor still thinks the Energy Intensity Scheme is a good idea don't you?

JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: Well we took a very good proposal to the last election based on a base load and credit scheme confined in the first years to the electricity sector. I think that was universally welcomed by those who understand these things best. It's just extraordinary David, there's an old adage in politics, particularly when you lack leadership, when all else fails, form a committee but Malcolm Turnbull hasn't even been able to do that. His policies don't last 24 hours just like the state income tax debacle and  his proposal he just doesn't have the strength of leadership in his own party to get these issue, these policies- these thought bubbles through 24 hours.

HOST: In fairness the Prime Minister never actually argued the case for an Energy Intensity Scheme. Certainly this week, I know he did once upon a time, but in the current context he didn’t put forward an argument as to why this was the way to go.

FITZGIBBON: It ended in tears for him when he of course was opposition leader but I know how these things work David and so do you. Josh Frydenberg would not have gone out on Monday on such a sensitive issue and said those things if he didn’t believe he had the authority of Malcom Turnbull, if not the whole cabinet. But Malcolm couldn’t take the pressure beyond 24 hours and of course folded. This is just so symbolic and indicative of his lack of leadership, his inability to control his own party and the dysfunctional nature of the Coalition

HOST: Now most Australians probably don’t know what an Energy Intensity Scheme would mean in practice and how it might  be different to a carbon tax labor had in place. Now I know you have issues with the Carbon Tax that was in place. How can you avoid even an Energy Intensity Scheme which is essentially Labor’s policy, pushing up energy prices. It will to some degree won’t it?

FITZGIBBON: In the lead up to the 2013 election we had a scheme which began as, if you like, a flat tax on carbon, but would have transitioned after the first three years to a market based mechanism and if Tony Abbott hadn’t repealed Labor’s legislation then by now we wouldn’t be paying a $23 a tonne carbon tax, we would have a floating mechanism not unlike an Energy Intensity Scheme and people like Ross Garnaut say that the certificates in that scheme would now be trading at about $7 a tonne, so Tony Abbott had just let things be (inaudible).

HOST: They are still higher electricity prices? It may be a lot less than what you had originally but it’s still is higher price?

FITZGIBBON: It doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. That’s the reality. This is Tony Abbott’s mantra and is the way in which he effectively killed our scheme but once the sunk costs in renewables for example become monetized over a number of years and then generators which have no marginal costs start to produce electricity at much a cheaper rate. It’s not that simple David. It’s easy to say Tony Abbott, Cory Bernadi and others are saying-  well it’s actually a matter of if you’re trying to change behavior you have to be putting a higher cost on carbon (inaudible).

HOST: Are you a wholehearted supporter of a 50 per cent renewable energy target?

FITZGIBBON: I’m a whole hearted supported of having an ambition and a target. That’s what we should have. Other nations around the world..

HOST: 50 per cent?

FITZGIBBON: I’m comfortable with 50 per cent absolutely. Other developed nations around the world have higher targets. Like anything in life, including our fitness and the like, you don’t get anywhere unless you have objectives and I think we should have a goal and a realizable goal.

HOST: Finally let me ask you about the economic figures out today, they are disappointing and surprising, but  what do you think should be done to turn it around?

FITZGIBBON: I would love the way Scott Morrison said, oh the Labor Party wouldn’t jump to conclusions. There is only one conclusion to be arrived at here and that is after thee years that their economic management is a failure. They have taken a record today going into a negative quarter for the first time since 2011

HOST: What’s the answer?

FITZGIBBON: Scott Morrison was talking with you about working with the opposition we are always happy to work with them when they bring forward sensible policy proposals. The backpacker tax, they never came to us David despite our constant offers to sit down and negotiate.

HOST: On that your argument about the backpacker tax that it needs to be in line with places like New Zealand, surely company tax rate does as well to attract investment?

FITZGIBBON: Well nice try David, I just don’t prescribe to this trickle down economics which was discarded many years ago. Obviously our taxation arrangements have to be competitive but that is part of the mix. This Government wants to further drive the budget into deficit to give big tax cuts to the big end of town while at the same time hitting those in the budget who can least afford to take the hit. They have to get their priorities right. Come and talk to us and talk to us about a policy mix which takes both the budget back to surplus and at the same time helps stimulate the economy. That would be a really great idea.

HOST: Joel Fitzgibbon, I appreciate your time, thanks for joining us.

FITZGIBBON: Merry Christmas David.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.