TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
SKY NEWS AM AGENDA
WEDNESDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Climate and Energy; Electric vehicles.
TOM CONNELL, HOST: And we are joined by Tanya Plibersek for more on this. Thanks for your time. The Government's changed its policy, but it's worth noting Labor has as well. You used to have at least a target, 50 per cent of new car sales to be electric by 2030. Why is that gone?
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Well, our policy was always about giving consumers choice, making cars, electric vehicles cheaper for Australian families. And that's our intention today, it was our intention before the last election. The only person who has really changed their tune on electric vehicles is Scott Morrison, who said that they were going to ruin the weekend because they couldn't tow your boat or your caravan. I'm pleased to see that he's finally recognizing that Australians should have, deserve to have, the choice to buy cheaper, cleaner electric vehicles. It's disappointing that yesterday's policy actually doesn't make electric vehicles cheaper for ordinary Australian families. In comparison, Labor's policy will take thousands off the cost of a new electric vehicle.
CONNELL: What Labor's policy is not doing this time around though, as I mentioned, is that fifty per cent target for new car sales 2030. Why is that gone?
PLIBERSEK: Well, because the target wasn't the point of it. The point was to give people the choice to buy a cheaper, cleaner electric vehicle. You look at Norway - 70 per cent of new vehicles sold in Norway, 12 per cent I think is of new vehicles sold in the United Kingdom. You look at Australia, it's 1 per cent of vehicles sold and that's because people can't afford to buy them. If you survey Australians, they say they're interested in their next car being an electric vehicle, and they say the main barrier to that is the cost of the electric vehicle. We are bringing down the cost of a new electric vehicle for an ordinary family by thousands of dollars. That's a good thing. That's absolutely a good thing for the family budget when they're first buying the car, and it's good for the family budget when they're running the car. We know that electric vehicles are much cheaper over the life of the vehicle. And of course, it's a great way of bringing down pollution as well.
CONNELL: They barely need servicing, which I think will be the exciting part for a lot of people not going to a mechanic, but I want to ask this again, because you've criticized Scott Morrison's about-face and a lot of people would say fair enough given some of the rhetoric, but it seems to have scared you off, not even from a mandated 50% of new vehicles by 2030, but just a target. Why was it dropped?
PLIBERSEK: Well, it's just - you're focusing on the least important part of the policy. We want to see more electric vehicles in the Australian market. We want to see more new electric vehicles in the Australian market. So we're bringing down the cost of those electric vehicles. And as there are more new electric vehicles in the Australian market, there will also be more second-hand electric vehicles in the Australian market. So by making it easier for ordinary people to buy an electric vehicle, making it more attractive for government fleets and other big purchases of cars to buy electric vehicles. We also support a second hand electric vehicle market in Australia. At the moment Australia is the dumping ground for the most polluting vehicles in the world. We don't want to be the dumping ground for those high polluting vehicles anymore.
CONNELL: Well, the clearest way to change that, according to every expert in the field, is to have a vehicle emission standard. Is that on the table?
PLIBERSEK: We don't want to be the dumping ground of the most polluting cars in the world anymore, but the best thing that we can do to make Australia an attractive destination for more electric vehicles, more hybrids is to bring down the cost, to have competition, to make it more attractive to buy those vehicles. We've also said that in government we'd have an electric vehicle strategy that would look at whether we can make components here in Australia. We've got all of the raw materials that you would need to make batteries, for example, whether we can, in fact, make whole electric vehicles here in Australia. We need to look at issues of how we better use government infrastructure, not just fleets, but buildings as well for recharging stations and so on. So we need to do that actually together with our manufactures, with industry, with unions -
CONNELL: Sure what about vehicle emission standard?
PLIBERSEK: I think I'm certainly not the only person that's saying that Australia is behind the world when it comes to vehicle emission standards, and that Australia is the dumping ground for the most polluting vehicles in the world. The car manufacturers are saying that we should have stronger vehicle emissions standards in Australia.
CONNELL: Well, and vehicle emission standards go on the manufacturers. It means they need to have a certain average of vehicle emissions across the cars they sell in Australia, and that's actually the big thing that drives the change. So does that mean you are looking at vehicle emission standards in Australia?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I can tell you the car manufacturers are saying that we should have better vehicle emissions standards here in Australia and our focus is on making sure that we can make-
CONNELL: So will you then?
PLIBERSEK: Our focus is on making sure that we can make electric vehicles cheaper for Australian families to buy. The only person who's fixated on targets and so on at the moment is you in this interview, I think the most important thing we can do is -
CONNELL: I'm not asking about the target here. I'm asking about the vehicle emission standards. I'm just trying to clarify if that's something Labor's taking to this election.
PLIBERSEK: All of our policies will be clear before the election.
CONNELL: Okay, so that's still to be considered, is it?
PLIBERSEK: All of our policies will been clear before the election, and the most important one here is that electric vehicles will be cheaper for Australian families under a Labor government. They'll be cheaper, they'll be more readily available. There'll be more competition, there'll be more charging stations. There's a plan to look at whether we can make components and whole cars here. It's only Scott Morrison that's come to the party at the last minute.
CONNELL: Labor MPs this week, Josh Burns and Anne Aly, are pushing for a more ambitious 2030 target that is beyond even the Government's projection of 35 per cent. What's your view on that?
PLIBERSEK: I've always said that Australia should have a more ambitious target than the Government went to COP26 with. I think it's very important that we continue to set ambitious targets because that sends a signal to investors to invest in renewable energy and to invest in pollution reduction in their own businesses. Australia, absolutely can do better. There is a reason that one in four Australian households have solar panels on their roof - it's not because they're all mad greenies, it's because we've worked out that renewable energy is cheaper as well as being cleaner. Australia can be ahead of the pack, and the rest of the world will be looking at us just scratching their heads about why we're squandering our opportunity to lead the world in investment in renewable energy. By setting those ambitious targets, we send a very strong signal to business, to investors that it is worth investing in renewable energy. By doing things like rewiring the nation, the commitment we've made to upgrading our national transmission network, we say there will be capacity to join up your big renewable projects into our national transmission grid. Through our National Reconstruction Fund, through our community batteries projects, through our apprenticeships in new clean energy jobs, we are sending a strong signal that it is worth investing for the long-term to bring down pollution and, critically, bring down energy prices - that's great for Australian households, but it's also so important for Australian businesses. This is a jobs opportunity. And I guess, one of the things that's been so frustrating about the Government's approach is they keep talking about this as though it's some terrible sacrifice that Australians are being asked to make. This is an opportunity to drive jobs, to bring down power prices, to drive jobs in manufacturing, to support our economy, to grow our economy, to put us at the head of the pack internationally, and instead we've got a government that keeps treating this as though it's some liability that we’re asked to suck up.
CONNELL: But just on that specific question though, 35 per cent is the projection for Australia, some of your colleagues are saying Labor should go beyond that for a commitment. What's your view on that?
PLIBERSEK: I have said for literally years that we should be more ambitious in our medium-term targets. I'm not going to start picking numbers out of the air on television, but we should be more ambitious, we have the capacity –
CONNELL: I'm not asking for a number, I'm just saying -
PLIBERSEK: We should be more ambitious, yes.
CONNELL: Then the projection, then the 35?
PLIBERSEK: No, I'm saying we should be more ambitious than the Government's targets now, and I'm not going to start picking numbers out of the air.
CONNELL: But the question's about 35?
PLIBERSEK: Well, you can pick numbers. I'm not going to pick a number out of the air. We should be more ambitious than the Government's interim targets, medium-term targets.
CONNELL: Tanya Plibersek, appreciate your time today, thank you.
PLIBERSEK: It's a pleasure to talk to you, thank you.