28 February 2019
Transcript - #2019040, 2019

Interview with Eddie McGuire & Luke Darcy, Hot Breakfast, Triple M

Subjects: Economy; Climate Solutions Package; renewables; energy prices; gas; and football

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

G’day Josh.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good morning Ed, Good morning Darc.

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

Great to have you in town. How’s things going? What’s…

LUKE DARCY:

He’s pumped up, the Treasurer this morning. He’s got a bit of energy about you this morning, Josh. It’s a topic on the top of your list this morning. How you travelling?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

I’m going alright, Darc, obviously, you know, only about a month to go to the budget, that’s going to be a big night for the country and sets out our economic plan for the future and build on the success we’ve had to date. Look, the economy’s tracking pretty well, actually, the job numbers were really strong, Victoria’s unemployment rate has come down, NSW is the lowest on record. And we’re seeing more women in the workforce than ever before. So, we know that we’re going in the right direction, there are some stormy clouds around the world, and we’ll just keep it all stable and secure.

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

We’ll talk about that in a moment, and also some of the things you’re doing about climate solutions, because clearly some recent elections have peaked the interest. Now, you have been on this for a fair while. You’ve been fighting a bit of a lone hand at times. Good to see maybe some of them are listening to you in the party, these days Josh...

LUKE DARCY:

And hopefully some good news around energy, big issue for people in small businesses…

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

What we like to do here Josh, as you know, we’re not going to try and trip you up on the politics of things, give you the chance to tell us what’s going on and why it’s going to work, and how it’s going to make us better. Cos that’s all that we want to do, get out of our politicians these days.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Absolutely, I mean, we’re all there for the consumer and for the listener.

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

That’s it…

LUKE DARCY:

Josh Frydenberg…

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

… there is the voter, let’s not forget that Josh.

Josh, first of all, Climate Solutions Package announced on Monday. Now, your party has had some issues with the climate change, and getting their head around it. You’ve actually knocked off a couple of Prime Ministers, of your own, along the journey, because of this. You have been a constant, pushing through on this, you get a big tick on this one, and credibility, you’ve had to push through the party room on numerous occasions. Little bit late to the party, literally, when you realise that you’re losing some of your best seats because everybody in them actually believes in climate change but the sitting member didn’t. But that’s a, there you go, now I’ll let you talk.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

You’re not point the finger at me there though are you?

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

No, not at all.

LUKE DARCY:

Was there a question attached to that for the Treasurer?

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

We’ll I’m just saying, Josh has been pushing the proverbial, like a stone up a hill.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We tried hard, in the previous portfolio of Environment and Energy, Ed. But, I mean, climate change is real, and the Government is seriously tackling it. What we’ve announced is $3.5 billion for a series of measures, to get more storage, so this is the big Snowy 2.0 project, as well as to bring some of the renewable energy from Tasmania into Victoria, to stabilise our system, giving grants to businesses for energy efficiency, encouraging electric vehicles out there, as well as a land based program called the Emissions Reduction Fund. I mean, the bottom line is, we’ve got international commitments and we’ll meet them.

LUKE DARCY:

Can we get a cheaper electricity rate at the same time Josh? Because we operate a small business, we’ve got a pub, and our energy bill was up 45 per cent. That’s straight out of your ability to hire more staff and to make some money…

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

Keep the parmas at a decent prices…

LUKE DARCY:

…keep them going. Is there any relief in sight for that for people driving? And on the home front too, electricity bills, energy bills are going through the roof. Are your solutions going to impact people that are listening this morning?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we have actually seen prices come down from January 1 this year. The Government’s announced what is called a default price, so from that companies can discount, and that will prevent a bit of the gaming of the system that we’ve seen by the big energy companies. So we’ve taken them on, we’re starting to see prices comes down, and in the long term, as more wind and solar comes in the system, you need backup. And that’s where Snowy comes in. It’s the big battery, for Victoria, for New South Wales, for the East Coast of Australia. And ultimately, that not only produces more stable power, Darc, but actually reduces prices.

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

Josh, why would we, and maybe we have, why would we not look at our good friends on the farms in Gippsland, where it as windy as you like and there’s more land than the eye can see. Get down there and give them a secondary income by having wind farms down there. Stick it out in Bass Strait, is the windiest place on earth. The Germans did this seven years ago. They’re almost landlocked, Darc, the put them out at sea, and connected it all up, and now have all the technology to do so. We’ve got all these areas around the place. We’ve got more sun, we’ve got more wind, we’ve got more everything, and yet we’re paying through the nose. I’ll get to gas in a second, but just why wouldn’t we set up a 10 year plan to get this done so that everybody knows what the plan is, people can invest in it, we can put super fund money into it, the farmers will go, great ok, we’ve got troubles with the cows at the moment because we’ve got a drought but at least we’re making money out of the wind, blah blah blah etc.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, the good news is that work is underway, and the energy market operator, who has the job of co-ordinating Australia’s energy system, is now putting in place the interconnectors you need, to actually take the wind energy, which is produced wherever you may like it, and put it onto the grid. Because currently they don’t have those systems that allow that wind that’s generated to get into your home, and all that work is being done. But as you say, it’s a ten year plan, and I’m really proud of the work that’s currently underway.

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

What about gas? Why are we paying so much for gas still? This is ridiculous; we should be getting it for free in Australia.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

This is a touchy point, because the Federal Government doesn’t own the resources under the ground. Doesn’t matter if its gas, or coal, that belongs to state governments. We are in control of the gas that’s offshore, but not the stuff that’s under the ground. Now, Victoria’s locked up 40 years’ worth of gas, and unfortunately….

LUKE DARCY:

Locked it up where, Josh?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, locked it up in parts of the state, and there is some sensitive agricultural areas, and you’ve got to get the balance right, you don’t want to compromise that. But they have locked it up in parts of the state, which has meant that we pay higher prices here because we have to import gas from elsewhere. That’s unfortunate, whereas Queensland is really digging a lot of this gas up out of the ground, and not only using it domestically, but also using it for export. So, my message, to the state government here is, you’ve got to get the balance right, I think you need to unlock some of that gas, which could be used for our plastics companies, our paper manufacturers, and our other small businesses.

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

Who did the deal though, originally? That allowed us to have to pay parity with world prices. Whereas if I’m living in Saudi Arabia I’m getting my petrol for free because there’s more of it under the ground and then we’re ripping off everybody else. Why are we getting ripped off, along the journey here? Why are Australian’s always forced to pay top whack for everything?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well we have export markets, and we actually export two thirds of what we produce, from the east coast of Australia.

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

And we’re making so much money doing that, that we’re now importing gas in our own place. The boats go past each other in the night.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Back in 2012, you know our political opponents were warned about what would happen and they ignored those warnings. $60 billion was invested Eddie, by companies in that east coast export market, and that’s why we’ve had to put restrictions, potentially on exports, so there’s enough gas for here at home.

LUKE DARCY:

Josh, always appreciate you taking the time out to come by the studio. You’ve got the Budget coming up in a months’ time, good luck, appreciate the Treasurer of Australia there Josh Frydenberg, joining us this morning.

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

One final question to you…

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Carlton, Carlton, Carlton?

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

Well, I’ll ask about Carlton, you gave them $15 million the other day, that was pretty good…

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Women’s football, for across the state mate.

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

Good, okay. They going to win?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Look, I think we’ll do better this year, as I like to say we’re 15 years into our 5 year redevelopment plan, so I’m not crossing my fingers for a finals appearance, although we all live in hope, Ed.

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

Seems like our climate plan…

LUKE DARCY:

Money for footballs a good thing Josh, keep it coming. Little club over in the western suburbs you might have a look at.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Hey, you remember John Howard delivered big time for the Western Bulldogs, and we also delivered recently for Essendon as well.

LUKE DARCY:

That’s Josh Frydenberg, the Treasurer of Australia.