Interview with Patricia Karvelas, ABC RN Drive

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Net zero target; Travel bubbles; Cruise ships.
27 October 2021

Patricia Karvelas: Dan Tehan is the Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister and my guest. Welcome.

Dan Tehan: Good to be with you, Patricia.

Patricia Karvelas: There is very little new detail in today's plan. It is largely based on last year's technology roadmap. There's no new money allocated. Why has it taken until now to see it?

Dan Tehan: Look, it builds on the technology roadmap and that's important because when you're putting a plan in place, you've got to make sure that you do the detailed work. And we've begun that work over a long period of time and we continue to build on it. That's getting outcomes, and that's the most important thing. We will get our Paris target. We'll meet and beat it. We got our Kyoto targets and we're confident if we continue down the approach that we're taking, that we will get to net zero by 2050 and we'll do so in a way which enables our economy to continue to grow and jobs to continue to be created. And that's been the success of the approach we've taken up until now, and that's the approach that we'll take into the future.

Patricia Karvelas: We still haven't seen the modelling. The Prime Minister is saying it will be released. Why not release it today, given it’s pretty key?

Dan Tehan: We wanted to make sure that everyone knew that we had a plan and set that plan out. And that's what the Minister for Energy has done today, Angus Taylor with the Prime Minister, and then the modelling will follow after that. We understand the modelling is a key component of this, and it will be released in due course. But the most important thing was to make sure that everyone understands that the Government has a serious plan, that we're taking that plan to Glasgow and I must say I welcome the comments from the British Prime Minister where he said what we've actually done has been heroic. I think he has summed up very well what the approach that we're taking and the approach that the Government has really put to making sure that we not only commit to net zero by 2050, but that there is a plan that shows how we'll do it.

Patricia Karvelas: Yeah, but with respect, if you're relying on technologies that haven't even been invented yet, we don't even know about, how can you be confident that you're going to get there like that?

Dan Tehan: Well, I've got full confidence in it just through the work that I do locally, but also as Australia's Trade and Investment Minister. I'm confident, for instance, that we'll see aluminium smelters in this country powered 100% by renewables by 2030, and I think that that is absolutely achievable. And if you take the Portland aluminium smelter in my electorate, it uses 10% of Victoria's electricity needs so that just gives you one example.

When I was in Japan, in Kobe, a couple of months ago, I went to the port, which will take the first shipment of liquid hydrogen exported from Australia to Japan. And already the ship has been built that will transport that liquid hydrogen. The storage has been built that will hold it. And that first shipment of liquid hydrogen will take place at the end of this year.

Patricia Karvelas: Ok.

Dan Tehan: So we're seeing these technological developments occurring before our very eyes.

Patricia Karvelas: Minister, we've been told the plan will mean Australians will be better off by $2,000 a year and will create 62,000 jobs in mining and heavy industry. But without seeing the modelling, how can you expect Australians to believe it? And where will these jobs be?

Dan Tehan: Obviously, the modelling will be released in due course, and that will be part of the plan. Obviously, the plan has been released and that's been important that we get the plan out before Glasgow, and then the modelling will be released. And Australians can believe this plan because we've demonstrated that we can do this through what we've been able to achieve already, we've seen a 20% reduction in emissions while our economy has continued to grow and jobs have continued to grow. And another important area of my work is looking at, okay, what will be the future critical minerals and rare earths that we will need to develop the technologies that we will need, whether it be for batteries, whether it be for solar, whether it be for electric vehicles. A $2 billion facility is now available, thanks to Export Finance Australia, to enable this new sector of our economy to really grow, and we're seeing companies investing in this area, and we know that there will be huge job creation come in the rare earth and critical minerals area. So, there's just another example of the type of investing we're seeing from the government to help and support our industries, to make sure our economy continues to grow while we deal with emissions reduction.

Patricia Karvelas: The international conversation has shifted to more ambitious 2030 targets, but Australia won't ratchet up your targets. Even if you're saying that you're probably going to deliver higher targets, you still won't even commit to those higher targets. Why the reluctance?

Dan Tehan: Well, what we've done is we've made commitments for 2030 and we're going to honour those commitments and we're going to meet and beat them, and we'll be able to detail how we're going to meet and beat them at Glasgow. And then what we're absolutely committed to is making sure that our next commitment, net zero by 2050, that we will meet that. And that's the most important thing. So, we've got a strong track record, whether it be Kyoto, whether it be Paris, and now we've got to set our sights on making sure we do it when it comes to 2050. And it's a commitment that, once again, will all be about making sure we meet our targets and our commitments but while we grow our economy, because it's very easy to reduce emissions by killing off industries, that's not the approach that we want to do – we want to take. We want to make sure that we do this by growing industries and growing our economy and growing jobs.

Patricia Karvelas: Will you be attending COP26?

Dan Tehan: I won't be, it'll be the Prime Minister and the Minister for Energy who will be attending. I'll be back for the WTO Ministerial meeting in Geneva at the end of November where, once again, I'll be putting the case for other ways we can lead to get global emissions reduction. One of those areas is making sure that countries who use agricultural subsidies start to make sure that they don't use them to the extent that they are – $1.8 trillion by 2030 is the forecast. The Food and Agriculture Organisation, the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environmental Programme have said: "We cannot meet our Paris targets. We cannot meet them if we don't deal with agricultural subsidies,” and the EU and the US have a key role to play in that area.

Patricia Karvelas: You've said discussions are underway to establish travel bubbles with Bali and Singapore. What stage are those discussions at?

Dan Tehan: Well, obviously, the discussions with Singapore are very advanced. The Prime Minister last Friday said that he was looking forward to a green lane or a travel bubble opening with Singapore in the coming weeks. The Singaporeans have also said that they're very keen to see that occur. Obviously, when it comes to Bali, we would love to see Australians being able to return to Bali. Not only do Australians love to go there, but tourism is such an important part of the Balinese economy. We've got conversations which are occurring with the Indonesian Government around that but, obviously, we've got to make sure we discuss that with States and Territories. The health advice supports what we're looking to do so those conversations will continue.

Patricia Karvelas: Are we likely to see bubbles in place for summer?

Dan Tehan: Look, that's my hope that we will see something occur with Singapore in the near future and then we can look to build on that with Japan, with South Korea, with the US, with the United Kingdom. Hopefully, we can get an outcome with Bali and the Indonesian Government. These are all things we'll be looking to progress with states and rterritories, making sure that as we continue to open up we do so in a safe way, but in a way that enables Australians to be able to travel freely and get back to those destinations that they love to visit.

Patricia Karvelas: Cruises could be back in Australian borders by Christmas. Will there be any restrictions on the number of passengers?

Dan Tehan: So currently we're enabling cruise ships to operate where they have 100 or less passengers on them. The cruise ship industry wanting to obviously enable larger cruise ships to come and ply our waters have put forward a very detailed plan which would enable them to be able to operate larger scale vessels here in Australia. They've done a lot of work on this plan. Cruise ships are operating, I think, it's in about 50 to 60 countries now and have been doing so in some places for a large part of this year. So, we'll continue to work with states and territories on this but, you know, as Australia's Tourism Minister, I would love to see cruising occurring here in Australia again this summer.

Patricia Karvelas: Dan Tehan, we're out of time. Thanks for coming on.

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