Interview with Danica De Giorgio, Hume and McAllister on Sky News
14 October 2022
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Each week the Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume and Assistant Climate Change and Energy Minister Jenny McAllister, face off and fire up in the big news and political developments. Jane, Jenny, welcome to the program. It's good to see you both again. We're a bit shorter on time today. So we are actually going to go straight into our first topic. A big one this week, Australians could be in for more hip pocket pain with major energy provider Alinta forecasting prices to lift by 35% next year. That could prove a major hurdle for the government, given a saving by 2025 was promised at the election. And there are also divisions emerging over the head of agreement still struck between the government and gas companies last month, the Australian Workers Union has labeled it a dud handshake deal that will risk thousands of industry jobs. While the government’s accused gas companies of milking prices.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Let's begin with this heads of agreement. Jenny the AW has come out this week very strong in the union's language, they're saying that it's a dud. So how confident are you that this deal will actually lower prices for Australians?
JENNY MCALLISTER: Well, our government has been working through the problems created by a decade's worth of chaos. In Coalition energy policy. You'll remember 22 policies attempted, not a single energy policy mandate. And so since our election, we've been working in a very careful way with the state and territory energy ministers and of course with all the industry to try and get some certainty and stability back into the market. Now, we know that the international price of gas has gone up very significantly as a consequence of the events in Ukraine and that is flowing through to prices for Australian consumers, particularly impactful on the manufacturing sector. We know there's a lot of work to do there. It's really important, really important that Minister King has been working through establishing a new Heads of agreement. But there is almost certainly more that we can do and you've seen a range of ministers, the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, committed to working through these challenges, listening to the perspectives of the industry that rely on gas but of course also listen to the perspectives of the industries that produce it and sell it.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Jane, is it too much to say then that manufacturing is going to be at stake from these discussions?
JANE HUME: Absolutely it is Danica. Essentially manufacturers rely on about 40% of gas as their energy usage. So it's gonna have profound implications for the broader economy, if Labor can't get this right, and what we're seeing is division within Labor's ranks. Madeleine King saying one thing, Ed Husic coming out and saying the other. I'm not entirely sure which one of them didn't get the memo. Maybe Jenny can clear that up. My concern is that Labor said 97 times before this election that they were going to reduce energy prices. That they were going to give a cut in energy bills of $275 to every Australian household. Now, clearly, they haven't. They haven't delivered that and they're not going to deliver that they've walked away from that they won't even say the words $275. This clear plan that they've got clearly isn't working. Because if you can't even get your ministers to agree well, how on earth do you expect the energy industry to come on board. We need to open up new gas fields. That's why the National Gas infrastructure plan that the coalition put in place should be continued under a Labor Government. Opening up the Beetaloo Basin and Narrabri, New South Wales, Victorian fields. There are so many options for new gas programs. What Labor has to do is make sure that it ignores the activists, the activists that are within its own ranks, and starts doing what's right for the economy. What's right for the manufacturing industry and what's right for Australians getting their energy prices down.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Jane and Jenny, we're just going to hold this just for two minutes. We just need to go live now to a press conference. This is St Kilda authorities at St Kilda AFL club, speaking about the sacking of their head coach Brett Ratten Let's listen in.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: That is where we leave the St Kilda president and officials speaking after sacking the head coach of Brett Ratten if you would like to continue watching that you can on fox sports news channel 500. In the meantime, though, let us return to our panel, Jane Hume and Jenny McAllister. Were talking about rising energy costs in Australia. Jenny, how split is the government on this matter? It appears that it started with the AWU, is Minister Ed Husic sympathetic to what's going on?
JENNY MCALLISTER: Danica, the government's been very methodical in working through a host of problems in the energy system, whether they're on the electricity side or the gas side. We inherit a market in disarray as a consequence of a decade of failed energy policies or failure to land a single policy. It meant that the investments that would otherwise have taken place from the private sector were unable to proceed because the private sector simply did not know what government expected of them. In the few months that we have been in government, we've been working through that in a really orderly way. Setting the emissions reduction target, really important. Reconvening regular meetings of energy ministers across the country, very important for setting in place a series of policy actions in the gas market and the electricity market. I'm totally confident that all of the relevant pieces in the government are very, very focused on his challenge. We know it's significant in terms of cost of living, and we know it's significant in terms of our economic capacity and performance.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Okay, so you're saying that there is no split within labor right now I'm out about the issue.
JENNY MCALLISTER: I'm saying that our ministers are working together in a collaborative, a collaborative and orderly way to resolve a decade worth of incompetence and chaos from the Coalition. We've made some very significant changes already to the way things are organized. It was important that Madeleine King secured a new Heads of Agreement. I think you've heard really clearly from a range of people in the government, including Minister King, that there's more to do. We recognize that but it's a very important step that Minister King has been able to secure.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Jane, how can we-
JANE HUME: So will you be opening up those new gas fields though, Jenny, that's most important. I mean, are you going to continue on with it the national gas infrastructure plan because Chris Bowen called it you'll recall the words he used the words BS about the national gas infrastructure plan, but quite simply until you open up new gas fields, of course, there is going to be continued pressure on prices. And of course, you're going to get that tension between the Labor Party and the unions, which is where you're what you're seeing played out now between Madeleine King, and Ed Husic. So I think the real issue is are you going to commit to ignoring the activists within your own party and pursuing new gas fields that are going to be so important, not just for manufacturers but for the economy more broadly.
JENNY MCALLISTER: Jane, the issue is in fact, getting the energy markets working properly. We recognize that the gas market we inherited from your government is not delivering for gas users in a way that we might like and there is work to do. There is work that's taking place in the energy ministers Council and its work being done by ministers like Minister Bowen, Minister King, the Treasurer Jim Chalmers, of course and Minister Husic. They are all working together to solve problems created by the Coalition Government. There’s no silver bullet, there’s no one solution.
JANE HUME: So new gas pipelines, and new gas projects?
JENNY MCALLISTER: The result, improvement will rely in a whole range of investments across a whole range of technologies. We know that the cheapest form of regeneration is actually going to be renewables and we need significant investment in new renewable capacity to deal with the problem we inherited. Four gigawatts of capacity left the energy market. Only one gigawatt replaced it.
JANE HUME: Hang on, you need gas as a firming measure for your renewable projects.
JENNY MCALLISTER: Yes that’s perfectly correct.
JANE HUME: You need gas as part of that transition to renewables and you know that.
JENNY MCALLISTER: But the problem has been the failure of investment over the period of government.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Alright because if I -
JENNY MCALLISTER: I don't think [inaudible]
JANE HUME: Apparently Chris Bowen thought it was BS.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: As Australian’s, I just want to ask this, because if you're an Australian watching this, and you're going my gas prices, my energy prices are going up right now. Australians want to know what's going to happen and how they're going to bring it down. Jenny, Labor did pledge to cut power bills by $275 a year. So the question is, will you take that pledge? Can Australians expect that saving?
JENNY MCALLISTER: We are very confident that the measures we're putting in place will put downward pressure on power prices. We've got some very significant external shocks coming through the energy system as a consequence of the war in Ukraine. And it's in a context where after a decade of inaction, the energy system really needs a lot of work. There's no silver bullet, no quick solution to any of this.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Ok but 275 dollars-
JANE HUME: Jenny nothing has changed.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: 275 dollars-
JANE HUME: nothing has changed in 150 days.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Jenny, a 275 dollar saving. Is that pledge, does that pledge still stand? $275 saving, does that pledge to Australian households still stand?
JENNY MCALLISTER: We are very confident that the measures we are putting in place will put downward pressure on power prices. We've already seen wholesale prices come down after the peak, the winter peak in July. We need to set in place stable policies setting that allow investment in new capacity in the system, and there's no way around that Jane. We're dealing with a legacy of policy failure from the Coalition Government. And it's going to take a lot of work across the states and territories collaborating with the Commonwealth to get this right again.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: I think you made an interesting point about-
JANE HUME: 97 times. 97 times you said prior to the election that you were going to reduce power prices by 275 dollars. After the election 150 days in and crickets. We hear absolutely nothing about this $275 commitment that surely you can agree that this is the first broken promise of this Labor Government less than 150 days in and you won't say the words 275 dollars. No one will say the words 275 dollars .
JENNY MCALLISTER: We come to government. We meet with the department and what did they tell us? That Minister Taylor concealed a very significant price increase prior to the election because he didn't want the public to know what was going on under the Liberal Government's watch. We find that there are very significant delays in key projects championed by the Coalition not revealed prior to the election. And of course, we know about some of the problems that were very obvious, a complete inability by the coalition government written by disunity to land a single energy policy in a decade.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Ok. Alright but-
JANE HUME: It’s just a broken promise. It’s a broken promise.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: You've got the budget coming out, Jenny now in what two weeks time or less than two weeks time. So what can Australians expect?
JENNY MCALLISTER: Look, we've got three priorities. We inherited a budget that is heaving with liberal party debt. We've got some very significant supply side constraints in the economy that need attention. And we'll be seeing in some of the investments in skills that we've been talking about. And finally, of course, we need to assist Australians where we can with cost of living. We have very significant commitments in terms of cheaper childcare, cheaper medicine, I think you'll see those reflected in the budget.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: Alright. Well, we do have to move on. On that note, on to our next topic, of course, the economy. It's a big one. The International Monetary Fund has downgraded global growth forecasts warning a third of the world economy could contract by next year. In particular, it's predicting the world's largest economies in the US and China will slow. Ahead of his trip to Washington this week, the Treasurer warned the global economy is dangerous. Jim Chalmers is challenging US President Joe Biden's claims that the US will avoid a recession.
DANICA DE GIORGIO: As Shadow Finance Minister, do you think that we are in a strong enough position to withstand any shockwaves if the US does go into recession?
JANE HUME: Well Danica, when the Coalition left government we left the economy in good shape, there was a triple A credit rating, we had unemployment with a three in front of it and a downward trajectory, low reliance on welfare and an economy that was growing, we are in a position where we are a more resilient economy. The budget was also in a better position. We saw that through the $50 billion that that was was essentially a result of those low unemployment and low welfare dependency results that improvement to the budget bottom line quite frankly, now that we're talking about the R word, recession. If we go into recession, it will only be because of policy errors made by a Labor government. This potentially could be the recession that we don't have to have. I would hate to think that we would be pushed there through bad decisions by a Labor government. What we want to see in this budget, most certainly, is a concentration on lower spending, making sure that our monetary and fiscal policy are working in exactly the same direction to get the economy at. Certainly progressing but slowing down right now what we've got as the RBA, moving interest rates-
DANICA DE GIORGIO: I'm sorry, I do have to interrupt you there, Jane Hume let's go live now to the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaking.