21 May 2019
Transcript - #2019072, 2019

Interview with Laura Jayes & Kieran Gilbert, First Edition, Sky News

Subjects: Election 2019; Victoria; Climate change; Budget 2019-20; tax cuts; National Energy Guarantee; and energy policy.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Josh Frydenberg, thanks for your time, congratulations…

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good morning.

KIERAN GILBERT:

…on what the Prime Minister describes a miracle win. How's it feeling this Monday after the achievement of Saturday?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Look, it's a very pleasing result for us and of course we were behind in the polls, but we always knew we were in the game. It looks like we have lost a couple of colleagues and I'm talking about Chris Crewther in Victoria and Dunkley, and maybe others and so my thoughts are with them. At the same time there's a lot of new people who'll be coming into the Parliament that will really add to the strength of our team, which is also very exciting. So, we're just waiting for a few seats still to be determined and a few more postal votes to be counted. But it's obviously a very pleasing result.

LAURA JAYES:

Treasurer, why did you have an 8 per cent swing against you in your set of Kooyong, do you think?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, it was a very unusual contest, Laura, in Kooyong this time, was basically a four cornered contest. Not only did I face the traditional rival of the Labor Party, but also a very well-resourced and high-profile Greens campaign, as well as an Independent, who was claiming to be a Liberal and trying to take the votes off me as the Liberal Party's candidate.

And Victoria has been a difficult place for the Liberal Party in terms of recent elections and I'm talking particularly about what happened at the State Election. And, so, I think all those factors were at play, but I've been very heartened by the results and the fact that I've been re-elected by the people of Kooyong in a tight contest.

KIERAN GILBERT:

I want to ask you about the aspirational voter that really, I think the Prime Minister and yourself, you know, targeted very effectively at the weekend. But just to pick up on Laura's question. Do you accept that while in certain parts of the country the climate change issue is not one which is that to have fears in others, it is, you know, like your area, like in Warringah…

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Sure.

KIERAN GILBERT:

…like in the seat of Indi as well. It remains an issue that the Government has to take seriously, doesn't it?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Absolutely. And I take it seriously, Scott Morrison takes it seriously and our Government accepts the science of climate change. Climate change is real, and we need to be part of an international solution. Now, Australia has a strong track record in meeting and beating its targets and will continue to do that when it comes to the 2020 target and 2030 target. I think what the Australian people are looking for are practical solutions. They want to know you're taking it seriously, but they also want to see results. And that is what our $3.5 billion Climate Solutions package does. I think where Bill Shorten came unstuck on this issue during the election is, he had a very high target, but he couldn't actually explain to the people how he was going to get there and more importantly for them the economic impact on their lives. And it shouldn't be a choice between reducing emissions and having a strong economy. You can have both, but you do need to explain that to the Australian people and that's what we have endeavoured to do, and we'll continue to do.

LAURA JAYES:

What is the message on the climate change front? Is that, you know, electors are perhaps sick of talking about it on one front, is it that young people want to see more action, you know, working people not so much. I mean, it's not one clear message, is it?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, I think it comes down to what is going to be the impact on the economy. And if you can explain to people how you have practical solutions that don't hurt the economy, but actually create jobs in the process, I think that is the winning formula. And what we are endeavouring to do…

LAURA JAYES:

And coal's popular?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, look, coal's a reality and I think this is a point that some of the extremists in this debate miss, is coal is a part of our energy mix and will continue to be so for plenty of time to come. But there is a transition underway and I believe it's an inevitable transition to lower emissions form of energy. But you can't just switch coal-fired power stations off…

KIERANN GILBERT:

Okay.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

…we'd lose the lights on the East Coast of Australia. What you need to do is smooth out that transition and that's why Snowy 2.0 is really important.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Do you feel that your, that the Morrison Government, and you as Treasurer have inherited the legacy of the, you know, the Howard battlers with your message to people about, you know, you have a go you get a go, that sort of message to the aspirational voter?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, clearly that is a message that Scott Morrison made clear through the campaign when he was talking about quiet Australians. And these people, Kieran and Laura, go about their business. They want to raise a family. They want to run a business. They want to save for their retirement. They want to own a home. And they don't necessarily join every demonstration in the major cities on the issues of the day and they don't hang out on Twitter and participate in what can sometimes be an acrimonious debate. They just get on with their jobs and they want better livelihoods for their families. And I think that was the message that Scott Morrison, myself and our whole team were communicating that we had the policies to do so and that you couldn't risk the Labor Party with their high taxing, high spending agenda, particularly at this time where the economy is facing strong economic headwinds both domestically and internationally.

LAURA JAYES:

Besides tax cuts, what do you have a mandate for, and will you be going beyond that mandate before the next term? Any new policies will you take to the next election?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, the next election, I mean that's three years away, Laura. Let's not get ahead of ourselves on that one. What we made clear in the Budget was that it was an economic plan not just for the next year, but actually for the next decade. And that included responsible economic management, so that we could pay down Labor's debt and that was the job creation strategy around that. But it was also the tax cuts you alluded to and that's our first priority to pass that legislation through the Parliament. Then you've got the infrastructure spending, you've got the new apprentices, you've got the record funding on hospitals, on schools we announced during the Budget, during the election campaign. And new first home buyers housing policy, which I think is going to be really important. And we're obviously backing small business significantly with the extension of the instant asset write-off and a number of other measures. So, we've got a busy legislative agenda.

But what we will not do, is we will not increase the tax burden on everyday Australians. People who are just wanting to get ahead. People who plan for their retirement on the rules that they thought were in place and had bipartisan support. The Labor Party was telling the Australian people that's what they were going to do. And clearly that did not go down very well.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Arthur Sinodinos said that on Saturday night that it might be a time to take some of the policies from Labor that you might be able to find some common ground on. And the one I think particularly that people have been discussing is the National Energy Guarantee that maybe you might be able to find some common ground on there to revisit that. Particularly with the departure of a number of people from your parliamentary party, who were so have been so fierce in terms of their advocacy around these matters, not just Tony Abbott, but others that are no longer in the Parliament.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, as you know the National Energy Guarantee had two components, one of that was a reliability guarantee, which is vitally important to smooth out this transition to more intermittent sources of power, namely wind and solar. Now, that reliability component of the National Energy Guarantee is going ahead, and Angus Taylor has already had very productive discussions with the State Energy Ministers on that point. But we laid out our energy…

KIERAN GILBERT:

Are there other common ground you can find with Labor though?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we laid out our energy policy before the election and we'll faithfully implement that, now that the election has come. And that is particularly about the ACCC recommendations about how to back more generation that's going to be a real priority for us. How we can support a new baseload generation, particularly to support industries that are high energy users.

LAURA JAYES:

Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, the newly elected Treasurer, thanks so much for your time this morning. Appreciate it.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good to be with you.