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Greg Hunt discusses shadow climate policy -

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LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Joining us now in our Melbourne studio is the shadow environment minister,
Greg Hunt.

Good to have you with us.

GREG HUNT, SHADOW ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: Good evening, Leigh.

LEIGH SALES: We'll turn to federal politics in a moment. But if I could just start with the news
out of New South Wales, that there's a new Premier there. Have you spoken to any of your New South
Wales Liberal colleagues tonight, and if so, what's the reaction?

GREG HUNT: I've actually spoke with a Senate colleague and the response was very simple. It is
corrupt, addled, a mountain of debt, and that's what they said is the endemic problem with the NSW
Labor Party.

And they also made the point that it's the same Labor Party which put Kevin Rudd in power, and if
you want to see the future of federal Labor, it's the same mountain of debt. That's mortgaging the
future and I think there is a very clear lesson for Australia. Project forward: a mountain of debt,
mortgaging the future and that's what you draw from New South Wales.

LEIGH SALES: OK, let's go back to the national scene. Are you hoping that you'll stay on as shadow
environment minister on Tony Abbott's frontbench?

GREG HUNT: I love my portfolio. I'd be happy to serve in any role - parliamentary secretary for
interstate rail gauge harmonisation. But I do enjoy the environment - I'm passionate about it; I
believe in the challenges of climate change - but these are matters for Tony.

LEIGH SALES: Given that you've advocated action on climate change for about 20 years, are you going
to be comfortable selling a climate change policy that doesn't include carbon trading or a carbon
tax?

GREG HUNT: The heart of what I have argued for for many years, including in a speech to the Centre
for Independent Studies, I think it was three years and three days ago, is direct action on climate
change. And that means whether it is looking at cleaning up the power stations, green carbon, which
is the work that we have looked at as a Coalition. And I pay tribute to Malcolm Turnbull, with
regards to fixing up our farms and sequestering carbon in our soil and trees. And thirdly energy
efficiency, they are all forms of direct action on climate change, which you can achieve without a
carbon tax; without an emissions trading scheme.

LEIGH SALES: OK, you mentioned your CIS speech, which I had a look at and I also looked at a speech
that you gave in Western Australia as recently as March this year. And I quote, "We proposed a
balanced and careful national carbon emissions trading scheme that supports direct action rather
than replaces it." So in March you wanted both those thinks.

GREG HUNT: Look, I've always believed in direct action.

LEIGH SALES: But you've apparently also believed in an emissions trading scheme at some point.

GREG HUNT: I'll go to the heart of that matter. What we have always said and what I have said is
that to do this in a way which is in discord with the rest of the world won't be effective, because
you will simply export emissions overseas. That's the fundamental problem here - that you have a
great big tax. $120 billion.

And I think Mr Rudd needs to be upfront about this - $1,100 per family per annum in Western Sydney,
in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, in the outer areas of Adelaide or Brisbane. And that system
will simply export jobs and emissions if it's unilateral.

That's the problem here; that's why we're looking at direct action now, to do real things.

LEIGH SALES: But is that direct action going to be enough on its own to meet the carbon reduction
goals that Tony Abbott has said he's committed to?

GREG HUNT: We are committed to climate change action and earlier this year we set out a case that
we could save 150 million tonnes per annum of emissions, or CO2 or equivalent gases, in Australia
through green carbon. The New South Wales and Victorian governments put out a paper, which talked
about up to 1,000 million, or a billion, tonnes. The Queensland Government a similar figure. We
know Professor Garnaut was talking about 800 million tonnes of potential green carbon or fixing
carbon in our soils.

So of course this is possible. We want to pursue an incentives-based program rather than a punitive
program. That's what we can do now. We'll take real action immediately. That's quite exciting.

LEIGH SALES: But Malcolm Turnbull, as we heard in that story, has said today that it's not possible
to cut emissions without having a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme. I'll read you his quote:
"Whether carbon abatement measures are driven by an ETS, a tax, regulation or massive government
subsidies, they all have a cost and we will have to pay for it."

GREG HUNT: Well there's a distinction there, with great respect, as to what you've said. It is
quite possible to do this without a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme - renewable energy
target. The Prime Minister made much of the fact that we led and they joined us in a renewable
energy target this year. That wasn't a carbon tax - that wasn't an emissions trading scheme.

There's nothing that's cost free. That's absolutely true - there's nothing that's cost free.
There's a better way than $120 billion, which to your listeners translates to $1,100 a year and
will simply push jobs and emissions to China.

The other thing, the critical thing here, is that if you take direct action with incentives in the
three big areas - green carbon, energy efficiency, clean energy - whether in the form of greater
use of gas in Australia or renewable - solar, geothermal, wave, tidal - these are real, not just a
great big cycle of money.

And it's important to note, out of $120 billion, Mr Rudd must say how much of that goes to
renewable or clean energy. Not one dollar goes to abatement. Most of it goes to big polluters.

LEIGH SALES: You won an award for your university thesis 20 years ago on precisely this topic: on
the merits of regulation versus emissions trading, versus carbon taxes to deal with climate change.
What did you conclude was the best approach?

GREG HUNT: The best approach is this: that for each particular problem you can use any of the above
tools. My view in many cases is that direct action is the case. If you have a global market, if you
have a genuine global market, then you could use some form of trading scheme. But unless you have
that genuine global market, then you have a real issue here with carbon leakage overseas, job
destruction in Australia, and the impact on grocery prices on electricity prices, on basic goods
for mums and dads and pensioners and farmers.

LEIGH SALES: To come up with the policy that you took to the last election, the Coalition had a
very high-powered taskforce which came up with a considered report. How is the Coalition going to
formulate its new policy?

GREG HUNT: Well, the key themes are already in place: green carbon or using ...

LEIGH SALES: What do you mean by green carbon? What are you talking about - carbon capture and
storage?

GREG HUNT: Green carbon is carbon capture and storage in our soils, in our trees, in our
revegetation ... The second thing is energy efficiency, and the third is the idea of clean energy,
and that also includes smart grids.

Now the other thing we'll be doing - having set down those themes for clear, direct immediate
action - is this: we'll work on the mechanisms over the course of the summer. And I think it's fair
and reasonable to ask for a little time on the mechanisms. But the themes for direct action are
clear and were part of Tony's first speech.

LEIGH SALES: OK. The taskforce I referred to, the Shergold taskforce, it included heads of the
department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Environment, Resources, Foreign Affairs, Treasury, plus
top executives from BHP Billiton, Qantas, Xstrata and the National Australia Bank. Why do you think
that the policy you come up with will be superior to the policy that that group came up with that
you took to the last election?

GREG HUNT: It's very important to understand, with respect, that when you look around the world,
what are the real things which have actually reduced emissions to date, whether it's in China or in
particular in the United States or in Europe. Europe's had a very very thin trading scheme which
has basically been a disaster.

LEIGH SALES: Ok, sorry to cut you off. Mr Hunt, sorry to cut you off there. But I really do want
you to answer that question. Why is what you are going to come up to better than the high level
taskforce - what they came up with after months of investigation?

GREG HUNT: The key thing here is about timing, integration with the rest of the world. The problem
we have got here is we are going to act, not just before Copenhagen, but in a way which is
completely out of synchronisation with the United States. And if you are out of synchronisation
with the big developing markets, then what you see is that you'll have the migration of jobs and
emissions overseas and no change in global emissions, that is a consistent argument.

LEIGH SALES: But we are not talking about the timing of the policy. We're talking about the actual
content of the policy at this point, and why what you can come up with in a matter of a couple of
months or a couple of weeks is going to be superior to what you have come up with in the past after
lengthy consideration involving very high level and experienced people?

GREG HUNT: We have actually done considerable work. And it's not just us - if you look at the work
of McKinsey and Company. If you think of Australia as 600 million tonnes of CO2, McKinsey talks of
50 million tonnes of energy efficiency savings per annum by 2020. There's also 150 million tonnes
of savings through the work of our farmers, protection of our forests, regrowth of our forests, and
then the great task of cleaning up our power stations. And these are real things which the rest of
the world has largely been pursuing, which Australia has been pursuing, and that's why we have been
effective.

And now the question is this: while there is no trading scheme in the United States, and it will
cost $1,100 for mums and dads, Mr Rudd needs to say to Australians, "We'll be doing this alone".
Nothing's going to come out of Copenhagen which will be a sea change in real action, and he needs
to say, "Well, why will be doing this alone," and be upfront to pensioners and farmers about the
$1,100.

LEIGH SALES: Alright. The Shergold report that you based your policy on at the last election said
Australia should take action straightaway regardless of what the rest of the world was doing - to
create certainty for business and also create a positive investment environment. But also, let me
quote to you from that report, page 6: "The taskforce is firmly of the view that the most efficient
and effective way to manage risk of climate change is through market mechanisms. An Australian
emissions trading scheme would allow our nation to respond to future carbon constraints at least
cost. Other forms of the Government intervention would impose a far heavier burden on economic
activity."

So is the Coalition now going to ignore that advice that it commissioned before the last election?

GREG HUNT: Look - that informs how everybody goes forward. But let me be clear. There's a question
for Mr Rudd in this. Why would he support an expanded renewable energy target this year?

LEIGH SALES: Mr Hunt, I'm actually asking about your policy.

GREG HUNT: Sure and I will, but the Prime Minister today attacked the very thing which we jointly
put through the Parliament this year, which we led and they resisted for a while but which we
agreed upon, and he attacked that very approach.

So the answer is simple. There are a series of different options. But to act now at this moment in
history, where there's no comparable scheme around the world. My view, which I have argued in
writing for for many years, has been that you can have real and effective direct action; things
that people can understand. Who understands an emissions trading scheme, or the time it will take
to deal with it, let alone the cost, when you are the only ones going there?

LEIGH SALES: Alright. Based on Mr Abbott's remarks of the past couple of days, it's possible that
the Coalition may go to the next election advocating an open discussion on nuclear power,
individual work agreements and an anti-ETS position on climate change. Do you think those policies
are vote winners?

GREG HUNT: I think Australians want to see that we are not mortgaging the future. There's a big
mountain of debt. You referred to the New South Wales Labor Party: there's that same mountain of
debt which is piling up, and that's going to have an impact on families. So that will be extremely
important.

In terms of nuclear energy, what we want to do is this: we want to deal with clean-energy sources.
we want to raise the question for the Prime Minister: why would you sell uranium overseas, although
not to a democracy in India, so they can reduce their emissions but then say it's immoral to even
raise the question in Australia?

So I think it's fair and reasonable to ask the Prime Minister: why is he willing to sell uranium
overseas, not to India, but say it's immoral to even ask the question?

On WorkChoices: WorkChoices is dead. A dead duck. No question about that. But individual contracts
have been in place in Australia for more than a decade, and so we see that individual contracts
have had a role. And what the Labor Party has done now is they have gone back more than a decade
and said that it's illegal for an employer to have an individual arrangement with an employee in
most circumstances, and that seems a little odd.

LEIGH SALES: Greg Hunt, we are out of time. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.