DAVID KOCH: Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, thanks for your time. How concerned are you that so many Australians are still stuck overseas?
PRIME MINISTER: We are. We have increased the support to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade quite considerably to help people in those areas but we have made the decision to increase the number of people who can come back into Australia by about another 2,000 every single week. The Deputy Prime Minister has written to the Premiers about that. That will come into effect on Friday week. Back in July, the Premiers asked that we take the heat off the quarantine system by putting these caps in place and that is when Victorian numbers were surging and New South Wales had their challenges and that was reasonable at the time. But we have done the review of quarantine. We have got ADF people into Western Australia and Queensland and New South Wales and other places so now is the time we’ve got to start taking those caps off again and so this will see another 2,000 people come back every week. And, look, I think it is a sensible move and two weeks ago at National Cabinet, we all agreed we had to get on with this and so we are.
KOCH: So you don't need the approval of the Premiers to get this up and going? You can just enforce it?
PRIME MINISTER: No. We went through a process with our officials to work out what was the best way to get people home and it's on commercial flights, going through the hotel quarantine system which the states have been running, in most cases extremely well. We have just reviewed all that through an agreed process. And so this will see New South Wales still taking half of everyone who is coming back and Queensland will go from 500 to 1,000 and Perth will go from 500 to 1,00 but, you know, we have got between those two states alone over 400 ADF people on the ground helping with quarantine already.
KOCH: A lot of Australians are really distressed. I know you are across the interview we did yesterday with a Perth couple Chris and Candice Dix who were stranded in Ukraine unable to get home to their kids. Do you have any update on their situation?
PRIME MINISTER: I understand they will be coming home shortly and obviously this decision will help that. We've also got passports to them. As you know, the government also helped them get to Ukraine in the first place and so we have been assisting them as well now trying to get home. So this decision that has been made, I think, will certainly help that and speed the process up.
KOCH: OK. Will we have enough planes to bring people back and meet those quotas? I noticed Anthony Albanese suggesting we use Air Force or government jets to bring people back.
PRIME MINISTER: No our advice as there is no need for that. There are plenty of commercial planes, they just need to lift the caps so they can run the services to Australia. It's the caps that were stopping the planes. So, you know, we are happy to agree to the Premiers request back in July but we are over that hump now and so we can start lifting those caps. I really want to thank particularly the New South Wales government. They are carrying half the load here and they are not just Sydneysiders and New South Wales people coming home. They are Tasmanians, they’re Queenslanders, they’re Western Australians. So they are making sure they can get home to their state eventually too.
KOCH: Yep and anyone with coronavirus from another state gets counted in the New South Wales one in quarantine, which must be annoying for the Premier.
PRIME MINISTER: That’s true.
KOCH: Hey, that's the international border situation. The state border situation, Annastacia Palaszczuk is saying you are going to have to quarantine for 14 days if you want to be on the hustings for the state election coming up. Are you prepared to do that?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, look, we have Parliament sitting through all of that period and we are doing the Budget as well, David, so whether I was ever going to be able to get to Queensland anyway is a sort of secondary issue. I have got federal responsibilities. But I should be subject to the same rules like everyone else. I don't think there should be double standards about these things. I think the same rules should apply. And I know the hardship from speaking to people first hand about what these things are meaning for people. We have got to get this resolved and we have got to get these borders down eventually. Not right now. I understand the concerns that are there. I have never said they had to bring them down immediately. I have just said we have got to have sensible and fair exemption systems and not have double standards and explain that we are doing. Every state has a different situation and I respect that, but at the same time, we have got to get to a situation where having these things doesn't mean we are winning as a country when we deal with the virus. We have to live with the virus, not let the virus destroy the way we live.
KOCH: Absolutely. Just on another topic today, you are announcing a $1.9 billion investment package to help lower emissions. What technologies will you be investing in? You are saying solar power has had all the encouragement that it needs. You are going to look at other alternatives.
PRIME MINISTER: Hydrogen is a big one as part of that but there are also things like carbon capture and storage, there is the technology that is used in steel plants and household capture. All sorts of carbon capture is used in our agriculture industries. It is about manufacturing technologies which can be used to lower emissions energy. But it is about jobs. About 35,000 jobs, particularly, that'll come from this. I mean, 10 years ago Kochie, you will know, that the sorts of things we are now working on for energy were jets and streams back 10 years ago and so we have got through solar and wind and we have got to firm that dispatchable, reliable power and I have talked about the need for gas being the transition fuel. But where we are going to, that's what this phase is investing in and that will create the jobs of the future. But to keep the jobs of now as well, which is incredibly important, and support our manufacturing and industrial industries, our construction industries, where there are so many jobs and you can do that with lower emissions, more jobs and lower costs.
KOCH: So a focus on hydrogen. I know they are trying to introduce that into the Whyalla steelworks.
PRIME MINISTER: Yes. That’s exactly right. Alan Finkel, the Chief Scientist, this has been an important project that he has been pursuing. We have got partners in Japan that are working on this project. Australia will be a world leader in this hydrogen technology. It will support freight movement, trucks, it is very exciting stuff. But it is still some years off. But you have got to invest now to get the payoff 10 years from now and so we have to broaden the basis of these funds that were originally set up and just looked at solar and wind. That was fine but now we have to move on to next-generation technologies.
KOCH: Prime Minister, I know you have to go. Appreciate your time, thanks for joining us.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks, David.
INVESTMENT IN NEW ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES
The Morrison Government is investing in new and emerging technologies that will support jobs, strengthen our economy and reduce emissions.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the $1.9 billion investment package in future technologies to lower emissions would back jobs now and into the future, cut costs for households and improve the reliability of our energy supply.
The Prime Minister said the Government is supporting the next generation of energy technologies with an extra $1.62 billion for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to invest, as well as expanding the focus of ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to back new technologies that will cut emissions in agriculture, manufacturing, industry and transport.
“Our JobMaker plan is about protecting and creating the jobs of today and positioning Australia for the jobs of the future, which is why our investment in new technologies is so crucial,” the Prime Minister said.
“Australia is in the midst of a world-leading boom in renewable energy with over $30 billion invested since 2017. Solar panels and wind farms are now clearly commercially viable and have graduated from the need for government subsidies and the market has stepped up to invest.
“The Government will now focus its efforts on the next challenge: unlocking new technologies across the economy to help drive down costs, create jobs, improve reliability and reduce emissions. This will support our traditional industries – manufacturing, agriculture, transport – while positioning our economy for the future.
“These investments create jobs and they bring new technologies into play. This will not only cut emissions, but deliver the reliable energy Australia needs while driving down prices for homes and businesses.”
The new package also invests in a range of promising low-emissions, reliable new technology advancements including:
- Supporting businesses in the agriculture, manufacturing, industrial and transport sectors to adopt technologies that increase productivity and reduce emissions through a new $95.4 million Technology Co-Investment Fund that was recommended by the King Review
- Piloting carbon capture projects that will dramatically help cut emissions with a $50 million investment in the Carbon Capture Use and Storage Development Fund
- Helping businesses and regional communities take advantage of opportunities offered by hydrogen, electric, and bio-fuelled vehicles with a new $74.5 million Future Fuels Fund
- Setting up a hydrogen export hub worth $70.2 million to scale-up demand and take advantage of the advancements in this low emissions, high powered source of energy
- Backing new microgrids in regional and remote communities to deliver affordable, reliable power with $67 million
- Contributing $52.2 million to increase the energy productivity of homes and businesses, including a sector specific grant program for hotels supporting equipment and facilities upgrades
- Slashing the time taken to develop new Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) methods from 24 months or more to less than 12 months, involving industry in a co-design process and implementing other recommendations from the King Review into the ERF, worth $24.6 million
- Boosting energy and emissions data and cyber-security reporting and supporting the delivery of future Low Emissions Technology Statements under the Technology Investment Roadmap process, as well as developing an offshore clean energy project development framework, together worth $40.2 million
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said getting the next generation of energy technologies right would not only help to keep prices low and the lights on, but would importantly grow jobs, strengthen the economy and reduce emissions.
“We will reduce the cost of new and emerging technologies, not raise the cost of existing technologies or layer in new costs to consumers and businesses through mandated targets or subsidies,” Minister Taylor said.
“The Government recognises the strong growth in emerging energy technologies that will play a role in Australia’s energy mix into the future. We need to get the balance right and our investment to re-energise ARENA will deliver that.
“ARENA has played an important role in this growth, and as the cost of renewable technologies has fallen dramatically, the Government is investing in the future of ARENA to support the next generation of energy technologies.”
The Government’s emissions reduction strategy is focussed on technology not taxes. An approach that doesn’t compromise energy affordability or reliability will be more important than ever as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government will provide ARENA with guaranteed baseline funding of $1.43 billion over 10 years. ARENA’s baseline funding will be supplemented in two ways:
- Together with the Clean Energy Regulator, ARENA will be approved to deploy a portion of the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund; and
- ARENA will also become a clean technology grants hub for future initiatives, with a new $193.4 million provided to deploy targeted programs.
The Boards of ARENA and CEFC will continue to be accountable for individual investment decisions. The Government will introduce new legislation so both agencies can support new and emerging low emissions technologies (including zero and negative emissions technologies). That ensures they will be able to support critical technologies such as soil‑carbon sequestration, carbon capture and storage, production of green-steel, and industrial processes to reduce energy consumption.
This package will contribute to Australia’s continued success in meeting and beating our emissions reduction targets. Australia beat its Kyoto-era targets by up to 430 million tonnes and the Government is on track to meet and beat our 2030 Paris target.
As a nation, Australia has done far better than similar export-oriented countries with emissions now 14.3 per cent below 2005 levels. This is an achievement all Australians can be proud of.
Early-stage investment is a proven method to accelerate the development of new and emerging technologies. The Technology Investment Roadmap will provide a strategic framework to prioritise the Government’s investments.