The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Peter Costello

Peter Costello

Treasurer

11 March 1996 - 3 December 2007

Transcript of 25/10/06

Doorstop Interview
Melbourne Cricket Ground

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

SUBJECTS: Low Emission Technology Demonstration Fund, climate change, Victorian election

TREASURER:

Under the Low Emission Technology Demonstration Fund the Federal Government is making available money to demonstrate clean energy.  And in particular, the Federal Government is setting aside today $75 million to build the largest solar energy plant in the world.  Now what this will do is that it will make solar energy commercial, it will put it on the national grid, it will power 45,000 homes, it will cut carbon emissions by 400,000 tonnes and it will make sure that solar energy becomes mainstream and commercial for the first time.  And if this can work here in Victoria, it can be taken to other States and it can be taken around the world. 

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, would the project have been viable without the VRET scheme?

TREASURER:

Oh yes, this is a technology demonstration scheme which gives Commonwealth grants and it has been backed up by State grants to actually demonstrate the technology, absolutely. 

JOURNALIST:

Aren’t you in effect endorsing Victoria’s own mandatory energy target by funding this scheme?

TREASURER:

No, not in the slightest. 

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer does this indicate an about-face on climate change?  Are you admitting that something should have been done earlier in terms of supporting renewable energy?

TREASURER:

The Federal Government believes that Australia should meet its Kyoto targets.  And we are well on our way to meet our Kyoto targets. That will be done by a combination of measures, including greenhouse measures.  We have had substantial greenhouse gas abatement programmes in place since 1996 but in order to meet those greenhouse gas emission targets, we will have to do a few extra things.  And promoting solar energy will be part of it. Cleaning up brown coal which we are also announcing today with $50 million to take moisture out of brown coal will be another part of it and there will be some further measures which will be announced shortly. 

JOURNALIST:

What about joining up to the Kyoto protocol?

TREASURER:

Well we will meet, and it is our objective to meet our Kyoto targets.  You see, Australia is one of those countries:  when we sign international agreements we like to keep to them.  There are a lot of countries that sign them and don’t keep to them.  But we will actually meet our Kyoto target even though we haven’t signed the Kyoto protocol. 

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, what would you say about criticism that you’re trying to pick winners here with this fund, as opposed to letting the market (inaudible) carbon trading system (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Well, the Commonwealth Government set aside $500 million.  We then invited applications.  Those applications were assessed by independent people, including two of whom are here today, Nobby Clark, John Ralph. Ziggy Switkowski was part of it.  The independent process has come back with these two projects and I think that is the proper way to do it, to have an open tender so that the best projects are chosen.

JOURNALIST:

Would the Government consider a project involving nuclear energy (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

Well we wouldn’t consider it under the Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund because the Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund is a fund which is designed to encourage new technology which will reduce carbon emissions.  That is why we have got solar and that is why we have got cleaning up brown coal.  But if in the future at some point there is some party that wants to build a nuclear energy station, obviously we would look at that in the future.  But that is a long way off.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, do you have any theories about the science of global warming?

TREASURER:

Look, I accept the scientific evidence which is that global warming is taking place, that it is caused by carbon emissions, that restraining the increase in carbon emissions will counteract that process of global warming and that we should play our part.  But let me make this point:  it is not enough for countries like Australia to meet our Kyoto targets.  We are less than 1 per cent of the world’s emissions.  Let me give you a figure.  Every year in China, new capacity equals Australia’s total capacity.  So if Australia closed all of its power stations today, China would open up in the next year the equivalent of that closure.  So you will never do anything internationally or globally unless you bring developing countries into this programme, in particular, countries like China and India.  And that is what our initiative on the AP6 is about.  Let me tell you, you could close all of Australia’s power stations today and China would open up the equivalent in one year and then they would do double the equivalent in two years and triple in three years.  So if you think you can do something globally just in Australia, you can’t.  If you think you can do it globally just amongst the developed economies, you can’t.  You have got to bring in the developing world, particularly China and India. 

JOURNALIST:

If there is a post-Kyoto agreement that includes the developing world, what sort of form do you think it should take?

TREASURER:

Well this is the key thing, to get the developing world, particularly China and India and this is what our AP6 initiative is all about, bringing China and India into the process.  Now, let’s suppose we can make Solar Systems the largest solar energy generator in the world, then that technology could in fact be sold and implemented in countries like China and imagine the change that would make to global emissions. 

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, we’ve seen a couple of strong polls this week for Premier Bracks, do you still believe that Ted Baillieu is in with a very strong chance?

TREASURER:

Of course.  No election is over until polling day and in Australia elections are always close. 

Thank you.