Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Greg Hunt joins 7.30 -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Greg Hunt tells 7:30 a Coalition government would provide power stations with subsidies to avoid
prices going up.


CHRIS UHLMANN, PRESENTER: And we're joined by the Opposition's climate change spokesman Greg Hunt.


CHRIS UHLMANN: If we could go to your direct action plan. Now, the biggest carbon-emitting power
stations in Australia are the coal-fired plants in Victoria.

GREG HUNT: Correct.

CHRIS UHLMANN: What would your plan do about this?

GREG HUNT: Well we actually have a plan which could potentially deal with some of those power
stations which only last week said they would continue producing in just the same way under the
Government's carbon tax until way into the 2030s.

Our approach would be - potentially - to provide them with incentives, such as the Lorne Power
Station, to help it from transition from coal to gas to save so million tonnes a year. Under the
Government's carbon tax, electricity prices will skyrocket but they'll be passed through to the

No change there - a classic example of between action under the direct action approach which will
clean up - potentially - a power station, a waste coalmine gas issue, or a landfill gas issue, and
simply higher power costs under the Government.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Sure, but would you agree that brown and coal-fired power stations are much cheaper
than gas stations, aren't they?

GREG HUNT: Well, they are.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And so who pays the price difference?

GREG HUNT: We also have a mechanism built in to ensure there are no price differences, no impact on
electricity prices as a result.

CHRIS UHLMANN: How do you move from $30 a tonne to $45 a tonne, which is the cost of gas?

GREG HUNT: What we would do is help in the transition process from coal to gas by providing an
incentive but it's only if this is the lowest cost way of reducing emissions. There's on approach
under the Government's system...

CHRIS UHLMANN: But, sorry, do you say..

GREG HUNT: ..which would allow that, but electricity prices would skyrocket. No change in
electricity prices under us.

CHRIS UHLMANN: How could there be in change in electricity prices when the source of power is going
up so much? Would you be paying the difference or would that be taxpayers money?

GREG HUNT: We have consciously built into the model that we've got, the fact that we would ensure
that unless costs remain the same, we would find other means of reducing emissions. But we have
spoken with the companies in question, such as the CEO of TRUenergy, which owns the Lorne Power
Station, and we can make that transition. The Government cannot. It is a practical example...

CHRIS UHLMANN: And TRUenergy said this can't be viable unless electricity prices go up 20 per cent.
That's what you're proposing, isn't it? A rise in the cost of electricity - either paid for by the
consumers or paid for by Government, which is taxpayers' money.

So which is it? Where is the cost picked up?

GREG HUNT: Sure. There will be no increase in electricity prices to consumers under us. There will
be under the carbon-


GREG HUNT: There will be under the carbon tax, and we'll provide incentives to reduce emissions and
ensure that electricity prices do not change.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Greg Hunt, who pays?

GREG HUNT: We have said right from 2 February last year that we will include any differential on
the cost of electricity for the station within our approach. We've been very up front on that.

CHRIS UHLMANN: So that's in your billion dollars a year? You could cover that sort of cost - $2.5
billion to build, a 20 per cent increase in electricity prices- you could cover that in the one
billion dollars a year that you're setting aside. Is that what you are saying?

GREG HUNT: We have said that we would include all costs within our budget. Let me give you an
example. In the first year of our system, it would be $300 million to reduce emissions as opposed
to $10 billion under what the Government is proposing because they are going to increase
electricity, petrol, gas, groceries - not to mention the price of Australian-made cars, not to
mention the price of houses.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Sure... Where do you get the money from and for how long will you be paying a
subsidy to power stations?

GREG HUNT: Sure. We will, over, four years, for example, spend $3.2 billion on our approach. That's
offset by $50 billion of savings. So we make the savings and from within our savings, we fund our

That's how the Murray-Darling Basin policy was founded. That's how practical direct action will be

CHRIS UHLMANN: So your expectation is you will make $50 billion worth of savings. Where will those
savings be found?

GREG HUNT: This was set out by Joe Hockey last year prior to the election. Let me give you a
significant example. Within the public service freeze, over the four-year period, $3.8 billion. The
offsetting cost for not having interest for the NBN, $2.4 billion. Those are two of the examples of
the overall cost settings we'd make and they are good examples...

CHRIS UHLMANN: So you are saying- you're saying that you are now spending the savings that Joe
Hockey has put aside. Because of course, the big thing that the Coalition wants to do is to get out
of debt and deficit. But you've got a plan for that money - a plan that's not budgeted - because
somebody has to pay the cost differences that you're talking about.

GREG HUNT: With respect, you're incorrect.

CHRIS UHLMANN: So where does the money come from? Or you're spending the money that Joe Hockey is

GREG HUNT: No, we're making savings of $50 billion. Within that was any new Coalition expenditure
proposals, which includes the $3.2 billion for this, and on top of that there was an $11 billion
addition to the surplus.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And $3.2 billion you are saying now will cover the cost of that increased gas price
- for how long?

GREG HUNT: We were looking at a period out to 2020 and then after...

CHRIS UHLMANN: What happens after that?

GREG HUNT: In 2020, we will make sure we have reviewed the system to have long-term certainty for

I do have to say that the ALP's policy - which was announced in this studio on August the 12th by
Wayne Swan - of "There will be no carbon tax, I rule out a carbon tax" - he also said that in this
studio - barely lasted a couple of weeks.

We're designing a policy for the next decade and that gives certainty and it will have a review

CHRIS UHLMANN: But doesn't it appear from this that your policy is massively underfunded and
Malcolm Turnbull says that it will cost $18 billion a year by the year 2050.

Do you agree with those figures?

GREG HUNT: I, uh... will focus on the next 10 years. That's my job. I'm certainly not going to
speculate on...

CHRIS UHLMANN: But this doesn't end in 10 years, does it?

GREG HUNT: I am designing a policy- We have set out a policy for 10 years.

The ALP went to it with cash for clunkers, citizen's assembly, no carbon tax. Their policies
couldn't last a matter of weeks. We've got a decade with a review mechanism in 2015.

And for the people at home, what's the difference between $412 in the increase in the price of a
car - but only if it's Australian-made - $6,000 for an increase in the cost of a home...

CHRIS UHLMANN: Sure. Finally, just to clarify, you are arguing that you can force a move to highest
cost sources of electricity and it will come at no cost to consumers and you're prepared to pay the
difference forever.

GREG HUNT: We will only deal with the lowest cost emissions reductions. And if we can clean up some
of our oldest and dirtiest power stations as one of the lowest cost means of reducing emissions we
are happy to do that.

But it could be storing carbon, it could be capturing waste coalmine gas, it could be cleaning up
landfills. Whatever is lowest cost, we'll do that.

But the Government, I have to say, can't tell us whether petrol is in or out. Today it appears to
be back in and cars are going up, houses are going up, electricity is going up and above all else,
the cost of living increasing by $863.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Greg Hunt, we have to leave it there. Thank you

GREG HUNT: It's a pleasure.