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Climate and Catastrophe | Q&A


(APPLAUSE) Good evening and welcome to Q&A.
I’m Tony Jones. Tonight, with Sydney
on catastrophic fire alert, over a million hectares burnt,
three dead and fires spreading
across the nation, we’ll examine not only
the risks of climate change, but the strategic
economic opportunities. Now, answering
your questions tonight, Chief Executive of
the Australian Energy Council, Sarah McNamara, economist-turned-Liberal MP,
Jason Falinski, chairman of Sunshot Energy,
Professor Ross Garnaut, who wants Australia to become
a renewable energy superpower, Silicon Valley CEO Sarah Friar, head of local neighbourhood
social media platform Nextdoor, and the Shadow Minister
for Climate Change and Energy, Mark Butler. Please welcome our panel. Thank you. Now, Q&A is live
in eastern Australia on ABC TV, iview and NewsRadio. Well, our first question tonight
comes from Poppy Burton. With 150 fires across New…
burning across New South Wales and the devastating loss
of lives and homes, our prime minister has offered
thoughts and prayers. As young student leaders
and citizens, we are more inclined
for direct action, so we are collecting food
and essential items to donate to regional areas. We would like to know why
Prime Minister Morrison did not heed the warnings
of Greg Mullins, the former Commissioner
of Fire and Rescue New South Wales, and plan preventative action…
to avoid the devastation. Let’s start with Mark Butler. Well, I’m probably not
the best person to speak for the Prime Minister. Congratulations on the work…
You can speak ABOUT him, though. I can speak about him.
I’m pretty practised at that. Congratulations on the work
that you’re doing to support the community,
here in New South Wales, but across the country increasingly, that are facing this
extraordinary fire emergency. Um, I…I have a particular view… I’ve held this portfolio
for some years. I have a particular view that a longstanding protocol
that we’ve had in Australia that, during an emergency,
we put political disputes on hold. There’s an understanding that you don’t engage
in political debate while people are at risk,
while our emergency services, our defence personnel sometimes,
are in harm’s way trying to protect our community. And I think that’s been a protocol
that’s stood us in good stead. But over the past several years, I think that’s been
put aside too much, and there is too much
political debate during an emergency
about who caused what, about who should’ve done
something more than they did. And I think having a look
at the TV news tonight, every single TV news led not with communities doing the sort
of work that you guys are doing, but instead with a spat between
Adam Bandt from the Greens and the Deputy Prime Minister
Michael McCormack. And I just think that’s a betrayal of so many people who are
putting their lives at risk to save other Australians. And I don’t just blame the Greens
for doing this, because the Coalition
has done it in the past. Malcolm Turnbull did it when South Australia went through
an extraordinary storm event back in 2016. I mean, he practically
tore a hamstring to run and get in front
of a TV camera while people were still at risk, while communities
were still being saved by ADF personnel,
by emergency services personnel, to make a political point
about renewable energy. And I just think it’s appalling.
These are good people. Adam Bandt, Michael McCormack, they care deeply
for their community, but let’s put the politics aside while the country is facing
this sort of emergency. Let’s instead do the sorts of things
that you’re doing, that we see volunteers
and professional firefighters and other emergency services
personnel across the country doing right now to keep us safe. Once that’s finished, I think there is time
for a very serious debate about the impact of climate change
and what it is doing to our country. That time is overdue,
but it’s not right now. Now, Greg Mullins probably
would be here in the audience, were he not off fighting fires, but he and 23 former fire chiefs did try to get an audience
with the Prime Minister many months ago
to warn about precisely this, and to get the government
ready for it. Is that not something
you’re happy to talk about? Well, and the Prime Minister
should take that meeting, the Energy Minister
should take that meeting, other relevant ministers
should take that meeting, because we’ve had advice
for years now, from the Bureau, from the CSIRO, from
the Australian Academy of Science, and from emergency services chiefs, that the fire season has got longer,
it’s got more intense, and it is impacting
parts of the country that have never been
impacted before. There are very serious
practical issues in play. We know, for example, that California is still
experiencing wildfires while we are. We’ve been advised by these
emergency services chiefs that some of the arrangements
that we took for granted in the past are not going to be
possible anymore. For example, the sharing
of the firefighting helicopter that we know as Elvis. We used to use it
up in the Northern Hemisphere during their fire season, then lease it down here
for Australia’s fire season. Well, while fires are going on
in California, and in New South Wales
and Queensland and elsewhere at the same time, these practical arrangements
are deeply challenged. So, look, once this is over, the Prime Minister, other ministers, need to start taking the advice
of emergency services chiefs and of all our scientific agencies much more seriously,
frankly, than they have now. But for today, and I suspect,
unfortunately, for coming days, our focus should entirely be
on keeping people safe. Jason Falinski?
Tony. Um, Poppy, can I thank you
and your classmates for getting involved
and collecting those goods and important things for people
who are going to suffer during this natural catastrophe. In terms of our fire brigades
in New South Wales, to which I can speak to, Shane Fitzsimmons has made it clear
that we have one of, if not the best funded and resourced
fire service brigades in the world. John Barilaro, who is the
Deputy Premier of New South Wales, has just returned from California,
where Mark correctly pointed out they’ve got their own issues
with bushfires going on at the moment,
and that they… ..they were just blown away
at the fact that Australia, or New South Wales,
has a 70,000-volunteer army of firefighters that
it can deploy into these areas. We have four aircraft. I know Mark is concerned that we don’t have Elvis
out here at the moment. Last year, we bought
a 15,000-litre aeroplane that can dump water on any spot fire anywhere in the state
within an hour, and we have three other planes that
have been leased for that purpose. We are about as well prepared
for this as we possibly can be, including doing things like
we are using machine learning, big data and supercomputers to predict where the fires
will occur, and at what time they will occur, so that our Fire and Rescue services
can advise people when they have the opportunity,
before it is too late, to leave their homes behind
so that they can get to safety. The next 24 hours,
the next seven days, will be critical for
what happens in New South Wales. I know that some people
think that it’s pat, but our thoughts and prayers are
with those people in harm’s way, and we should thank those
who volunteer on a regular basis to put them…to put their lives
on hold to save those people and their property, because they turn this…Australia
from just being a name into a community,
and we should be very grateful. OK, we’ve got a firefighter
in the audience with a question. Let’s go to James Lavery. Hi there. I’m James.
I’m a firefighter. My question is in regard
to the ongoing cuts to front-line fire services
across the country, including here in our state
of New South Wales. How do you see both federal
and state government’s role in properly funding fire services and responding to our prediction
that things will get worse, particularly in the context of the growing threat
of climate change? Jason, I’ll go back to you
to answer that, because it was also partly
in the first question as well. James, could I ask, are you a member
of the Rural Fire Service or the Fire and Rescue service? I’m a professional firefighter
with Fire and Rescue. So, you’re a professional fire…
OK. So, that, as you know, is a service that has always been
delivered by state governments. I can’t speak to your question. I am assured by
the New South Wales government that any request that is made
by those people who run your organisation,
both the Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue
in New South Wales, that they have been ne… ..that they have never been denied
a request for more funding and more equipment
where it is required. So, I…I can’t say more than that. All I can say is…
is what I’m being told, what Shane Fitzsimmons, who’s
the head of Rural Fire Service, is saying today in New South Wales, that we have never been
better prepared and there is no firefighting brigade
anywhere in the world that is better funded
and better resourced than the New South Wales RFS. In my area, there are 23 brigades. 22 of them have sent people north
to help with the fires that are on the Mid North Coast
at the moment, and that’s a great thing, and
something that we should celebrate. Can I just ask
a quick question of you, and then I want to actually go back
to our firefighter, who happens to be a member
of the union. And I’m actually wondering
if that’s part of the reason why the former fire chiefs were not seen
by the Prime Minister. Is there a sense
that those who are out fighting are not union members, are different, or have different views,
philosophically, about the way this is unfolding? Well, I can’t speak for
the Prime Minister or his diary manager,
but what I can say is that that would have absolutely
nothing to do with it. So, you think the Prime Minister
should meet those 23 fire chiefs who have tried to meet him in April,
and then again in September, with the idea of warning him that precisely this
sort of thing would happen? Well, look, as I say,
I don’t know why the Prime Minister hasn’t met with those fire chiefs
as of yet. I sus… You know,
he’s a very busy person. As I understand it,
they were asked to meet… Should he meet them? Well, I think at this point,
that’s a decision for him, but, yeah, look, I think that at least the minister,
at very…at very least, should take the time
to meet with them, hear from them, and I understand
that meeting is under way. Just before I go to
our other panellists, you’ve got your hand back up there,
and I’ll go back to our firefighter. Sorry. Just with Fire Rescue, this year
they had $13 million cut from… So, that’s not true.
So, that’s not true. The reason that there was
a $13-million decrease in your capital budget is because
in the previous financial year you had a new headquarters built,
and we’re not… You know,
the New South Wales government is not going to build
a new headquarters for Fire and Rescue every year. James, just can I go back to
the core of your earlier question? What it is…what is it
that professional firefighters are seeing that’s happening, and why are you guys in particular
focused on the climate change issue? Well, we’ve noticed over
the last few years – I’ve been in the fire brigade,
Fire Rescue for nearly 10 years – the fires are getting worse. The resources that we have,
they’re not there. We…we need more firefighters
on the ground. And, to be honest, without
more firefighters on the ground, these things
will continue to happen. Sarah,
you’ve seen this in California. Mark just mentioned that. The wildfires have been
extraordinary and unprecedented. How has…how have
the governments there responded, and are they dealing
with this issue of climate change, or are they linking the fires
to climate change? Perhaps I should put it that way. It’s a loaded question. In California itself, there is no debate
on whether or not it’s linked to climate change. We’re sure. The science proves it. Whatever you read shows that
it has a scientific underpinning. And exactly as your firefighter
is saying, right, these seasons are getting
longer and longer, our countries are getting
drier and drier. It is compounded by having,
in our case, an electric utility
that in and of itself has not been well managed. So, we have… Most of our cables are above ground. And then I think the third
compounding effect in California is we’re also very much in love
with our countryside. We don’t like to cut back
our trees ever. And so when these high winds happen, trees come down,
they bring down powerlines and they start fires like
last year’s devastating camp fire that took out
the whole town of Paradise. So, it is very unnerving
at a federal level, clearly. I was going to say, are there
different views at a state and… Yeah.
Obviously, the White House has a view about climate change.
Absolutely. And unfortunately, the US
just pulled out – officially now – from the Paris Agreement,
the Paris Accord. And so, you know,
it’s devastating, I think, sitting in a state like California
and, seeing the impact, to imagine that we can’t just
all believe the science. I mean, I think last week alone, 1,600 scientists
put their name to the fact that not just
is climate change happening, but it’s happening
at a much more rapid rate, and our ability
as just a human population to start to stop it is getting… That window is closing. I’m just going to quickly go
to our next question before I bring in
the other panellists. It’s from Allan Fisher.
It’s on a related subject. Allan? Yeah, so, this morning,
the Deputy Prime Minister said that any links between climate change
and the current bushfire tragedy were the ravings
of inner-city lunatics. (LAUGHTER) Is it fair to say that the government’s
internal view of climate change hasn’t really moved on
since Tony Abbott’s stance on… ..that the so-called
settled science… ..settled science of climate change
was absolute crap? I’m going to bring in
Ross Garnaut here. I know it’s a highly
political question, Ross, but can you give us
your perspective on it? Well, the science
has been very clear since I described it all
in my report 11 years ago for all the state governments
and the federal government. I was simply absorbing
into that report what was coming out
from the science, and it told us that,
if we didn’t change the trajectory of growing greenhouse gas emissions and greenhouse gas concentrations
in the atmosphere, then we were going
to get the conditions for difficult bushfires
much more frequently, and more and more frequently
over time, and the bad ones
would be much worse. And, unfortunately,
it looks like the science was right. Mm. Jason, do you want to talk
to the politics of that question? I’m not sure what the politics are,
per se, Tony, but let me say, Michael… Well, the central argument
in that question was that the government
is still denying climate change… Well, but…
..as Tony Abbott did. That was the question.
OK. So, Tony Abbott
didn’t deny climate change and the federal government
does not… Well, he did say
the science was crap. Whether that’s a denial or not… (LAUGHTER)
..technically speaking… So, let me leave that aside,
but the… Can’t leave facts aside.
That’s a problem. No, no. No, no,
that’s a problem, I agree. But the fact of the matter is
that the Abbott government signed the Paris Agreement. That’s also a fact
that we can’t leave aside. This government accepts and endorses
the science of climate change. We understand
that the climate change is a contributing factor to the weather events
that we are having, including natural disasters
at the moment. There is no-one in the government
who doesn’t accept that. MARK: Oh, really? Yes, really.
(LAUGHTER) Well, there was an LNP senator
on television this afternoon saying the Bureau of Meteorology
is manipulating data to suit their global warming agenda. Well…
(LAUGHTER) Just this afternoon. I don’t think that’s true.
It is! If you’re referring
to Senator Rennick, that’s not what he said. That’s not what he said, Mark! And, I mean,
this is what the Labor Party constantly tries to do –
it constantly tries to say, “Oh, those in the Liberal Party
are climate deniers,” because it suits
your political purposes. And I thought you didn’t want
to play politics in the middle of a natural disaster. Well, I mean, actually,
he’s answering a question, to be fair, and I suppose
it is a political question, but what about
Michael McCormack’s comments? Well, I thought they were ill-timed.
I thought they were an overreaction. I don’t agree
with what Adam Bandt did, and I’ve said that
about some of Adam’s tweets going back to the Blue Mountains
bushfires many years ago. I think they’re very poorly timed
and I think that breach… ..they breach that longstanding
protocol I was talking about. Now, I think Michael McCormack’s
the Deputy Prime Minister. He could have stayed above that
and chosen to ignore it. I hadn’t even seen
Adam Bandt’s tweets until Michael McCormack
rushed on to radio this morning to start an even bigger barney
with him. It seemed to me
that Michael almost seemed to enjoy getting into this fight,
and I thought that was beneath the office of
Deputy Prime Minister, frankly. And as I said,
instead of the TVs tonight showing communities binding together to support all of those
bushfire-affected communities across the country,
instead, we had a very unseemly spat between
two federal parliamentarians. Sarah McNamara, how does this look
from your perspective? Well, from my perspective,
the kind of tussle we’ve even had at the table tonight, Tony,
just illustrates the politicisation of climate change policy
in this country. And it’s been a real barrier to us being able to settle on a bipartisan
climate change policy framework, which, in the energy industry, we’ve been crying out for
since around 2006. So, what we do need to try and do… Do you think that politics from
both sides is getting in the way? Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And it’s only
if we can take the politics and the ideology
out of the climate change debate, accept that
we all agree on the science and work on real answers
and real policy frameworks to deal with the issue
of climate change and calm down
the very understandable anxieties we’re seeing in drought-
and bushfire-affected communities, and also amongst
inner-city latte-sippers. Yeah, but how do you think you could take
the politics out of it? What would have to happen…? What would have to happen
to cool things down to a degree where
you got bipartisanship around these issues
and how to deal with them? We saw what happened
with the NEG, for example – a prime minister lost his job
over that one. Well, the National Energy Guarantee
came very close to being successful, and I think one of the reasons
it was almost successful was that it had incredibly broad
stakeholder support, and that’s really very rare
in a contested policy environment. So, the energy industry
and other stakeholders are ready and willing
to have that conversation again with state and federal governments about how we best design our market
to deal with climate change policy. We’ve got a question on this.
I’m going to go straight to that one. Abhi Nithyanand. Yeah, I just came back from Europe, where there’s a big decoupling
of energy policy from the politics, and this has really fuelled
investment in energy in Europe. And two big examples
of poor energy policy in Australia – one is the carbon tax,
which came in and went back, and the NEG, which was
almost brought in and repealed. So, as a result of this,
do you think energy policy should be decoupled
from politics completely and handed over to the regulators? I’ll start with Ross Garnaut here. What do you think
about that idea that, actually, you could actually give up
the power – the government
should give up the power – and allow experts
to actually deal with this issue? JASON: Like you, Ross. Yeah, well, let’s not forget
that we were in that place. When I was commissioned to do
the first climate change review, it was every government
in Australia – six state governments,
two territory governments and the federal government
were part of it, and it had strong support
of the opposition. I met regularly with
the leader of the opposition and leading members
of the frontbench – Malcolm Turnbull
and members of the frontbench – and they gave full support to it,
so not only… But what happened, Ross? Not only was it bipartisan… Not only was it bipartisan,
but it was across the federation, and we were ready
to make a very strong move. Unfortunately, Malcolm Turnbull
lost his job by a single vote the day before the Senate
was due to pass the legislation that had gone through
the House of Representatives. The rest is history.
Yeah, sure. Jason, the rest is history, we know,
but politics has reared its ugly head every time there seems to be
a solution in sight. Do you accept blame for that
as a politician? I’m going to ask the same of Mark. Well, yes, absolutely.
Mm. I mean, it’s our job to show
leadership and find consensus. I guess I would
slightly disagree with you in the sense
that we are making progress. I’d slightly disagree
with the questioner, whose name I’ve forgotten –
I apologise. I don’t think Europe is…
Abhi. Abhi. Sorry, Abhi. I don’t think Europe is actually
some sort of utopia of energy policy in the world. Its emissions are going up. They’re unlikely to meet
their Paris Agreement targets and their prices are higher. In Australia, we have managed,
through good luck, good management,
to actually reduce our emissions. Our trend line is down. Our energy prices are coming down
and we do… You know, we have actually
made progress in this area. Mark Butler,
so, it’s the same question to you. I mean…
Am I in Upside-Down World, am I? (LAUGHTER)
Well, you may well be. Well, energy prices
released this morning are $86 a megawatt hour,
which is over 20% higher than they were when Malcolm Turnbull
was last prime minister. Emissions have been rising
since Tony Abbott was prime minister and are projected,
by the government, to continue rising
all the way to 2030. Just have a look
at the government’s greenhouse data, their own department record. They rose over the last 12 months. They’ve been rising
over the last several years. They’re projected to rise
all the way to 2030, so we’ll miss our Paris targets, according to
the government’s greenhouse data that they publish every year, by about 19%. So, we are really failing
on emissions and energy prices. And you can look just across
the ditch to New Zealand, which passed, in a bipartisan way, a very substantial
carbon reduction bill. You look to the United Kingdom,
which is not a polite democracy – this is a democracy that practises
its politics very vigorously – but has taken the politics
out of climate change for more than a decade to the point where
their emissions are now lower than they were at any time since Queen Victoria
was on the throne. They’re two-thirds
of the rate of our emissions, but they still produce
50% more steel than we do, they still have
hundreds of thousands of… Would you like to go
to nuclear power like they did? Well, no. I’m talking about
reductions in emissions from a point when
they still did have nuclear power. So, point to point, the nuclear power question
hasn’t changed. They’ve been able to do it because
they’ve had policy certainty. OK, I’m just going
to quickly go back to… Abhi’s got his hand up.
I’ll go back to him. Yeah, sorry, I strongly disagree
when you say prices are coming down ’cause, before the carbon tax, wholesale prices
were about $28, $30. The carbon tax came.
It could have pushed it up to $45. Repealed.
More political uncertainty. Wholesale energy prices
are well above $80 and $90 at the moment. Let’s go to Sarah, because
she’s got expertise in this subject. Well, look, it’s certainly true
that wholesale prices are higher than we’d like them to be
at the moment. I think, Jason, you were
referring to retail prices, which, with the introduction
of the default market offer by the federal government, has seen some price reductions
at the retail end. But I do think
it’s not always helpful to compare Australia’s challenges with the challenges
or the success stories elsewhere in the world, because
we have a very particular grid. We are an islanded grid.
We are a long and skinny grid. We don’t have access to nuclear or to adjoining countries’ energy
if we’re running out. And we’ve got
a relatively small population sort of clustered
in certain capital cities up and down the east coast,
so those challenges need to be met and we’re doing our level best in the energy sector to meet them. And I should say
the energy sector is decarbonising and transitioning to a more renewables-based
electricity generation source, but that is going to take time
and we’re working on it, but we really need to make sure
that we’re keeping the lights on and that we’re keeping energy
as affordable as possible, because we do acknowledge
that people are doing it tough when it comes to paying
their energy bills at the moment. OK, I’m going to go
to our next question, which Ross will want to respond to. It’s from Lokendra Maharshi. So, my question is, Ross Garnaut believes
that Australia had more to lose from rising carbon emissions
than other wealthy nations, and more to gain from acting, and he argues that
Australia could emerge as a global superpower in energy, low-carbon industry
and carbon absorption technology. So, my question is this – people don’t like losing their jobs,
nor do they like changing them, but what exactly does Australia lose
by not acting on climate change? And what incentives
do Australians need to prioritise
mitigating climate change over current comfort? OK, Ross, this is your core argument
of your new book, so let’s go. Yeah. Well, all of my analysis,
back 10 years ago, showed that Australia
would be the most damaged by unconstrained climate change
of all the developed countries. We’re already a hot and dry country and, unfortunately, the experience
of today is part of that story, but there’s a lot more
to that story. Our agriculture is closer
to the margins of dryness and high temperatures
under which agriculture works. But, at the same time, we’ve got by far the world’s
richest combination of renewable energy resources, of wind and solar, and we’ve also got extraordinary
opportunities for capturing carbon in the landscape, which is another part
of the world story of moving to zero emissions. If we use this opportunity well, if we don’t muck it up, then we should be the country
with the lowest-cost energy. And if we’re the country
with the lowest-cost energy, we should be the country that turns
our own iron ore, iron oxide, into iron metal. The country that turns
our own aluminium oxide into aluminium metal. So you mean lowest-cost energy
by becoming a renewables superpower? That’s your central argument.
That’s right. And I think, if we do this well, then it can open up a new era
of prosperity for Australia, so that doing what we need to do to save ourselves
from the very large difficulties and disruption of climate change can make us richer, can improve our economic status
in the world and provide lots more opportunity
for Australians. Just in the interests
of full transparency, can you set out briefly
your financial stake in various renewable energy
companies, because you need to put that
on the table before we start going through why it’s such a great idea
to expand renewable energy. (LAUGHTER)
And I do that in the book. Yeah, I know. I know.
But for the audience here. I’m chairman of a company,
Sunshot Energy, that’s seeking to lead the Australian
zero-emissions energy transition. And I’m a shareholder still
in the group led by Sanjeev Gupta, bringing low-emission steelmaking
to South Australia. And in this role, then, I hope to help lead
the Australian effort and at the same time
build a strong company. Well, you know that the government,
you know, champions entrepreneurs. So there should be no problem
with that. But what I’m actually going to
ask you to describe briefly is how you do this. If you become a renewables
superpower, how does it work? How do you actually get
cost-effective renewable energy that can make steel? That can be used to make steel? That can be used to make aluminium
and process various other metals? Because your essential argument is,
we can do all of these things and be the exporter
of the cheapest metals to the world. Yeah. Now, that’s a vision that no-one has
gotten their head around right now. So just tell us how you do that. Yeah, well, steel has got
two routes to manufacture. One is recycling of scrap steel, and if you use renewable energy
for that, it’s green steel. And that’s very important
in the world, very important
in developed countries. But the big one for Australia and the big one for the world
is turning iron ore into iron metal. 7% of global emissions
are from using coal to turn iron ore
into iron and steel. 3% of global emissions come
from turning Australian iron ore into iron and steel, using coal. There’s another route,
there’s a zero-emissions route, and that is by using hydrogen. I’ve got half a chapter in the book on how important this can be
for Australia. But if we’ve got the iron ore here
and we can produce renewable energy, which is the essential ingredient
into zero-emissions hydrogen, if we’ve got them both here
at lower costs than anywhere else in the world, we would have to be
fairly irrational to find ways of avoiding becoming
the natural exporter of iron metal. It won’t make the slightest sense
in the world to take Australian iron ore
to Japan or Korea, and to…when… Japan and Korea are committed
to being zero-emission economies by the middle of the century. It won’t make any sense at all
to take Australian iron ore to Japan or Korea and to take Australian hydrogen
to Japan and Korea and to turn that into metal, because hydrogen doesn’t liquefy
until it’s nearly at absolute zero. You lose half the energy
turning it into a liquid. Then you have got
the very high costs of transporting this rather
difficult element across the ocean. So the economically sensible place
to do all that will be here in Australia. A lot of the places
will be the places that will lose their coal jobs. The natural places
are the Upper Spencer Gulf in South Australia, Collie and Geraldton
in Western Australia, Gladstone in Queensland,
Newcastle in New South Wales. And these are going to be
more jobs and better jobs than are currently
in the coal industry. OK. I want to hear
from the politicians in a minute. But I want to hear from Sarah because California has
sort of prized its role as one of the renewables superpowers
in the world. It’s a much bigger economy
than Australia, actually. Mm-hm. That’s right. So, how does that
kind of vision work? Yeah, the sixth-largest
economy in the world. I’m surprised at how much
the entire conversation – and I think it came a little bit
from Abhi’s question – was that the role here was
government or regulator, and not… Those were your two choices. And I’m surprised to not hear
about the private sector and also just communities at large. So, on the private sector side I also have the privilege of sitting
on the board of Walmart, which is the largest company
in the world by revenue, and Walmart actually took on
very aggressive green targets if you go back
kind of 10, even 15 years ago. For example, in California,
all Walmart stores have to be a zero…
a zero power footprint. So, solar panels on roofs. But a lot of work done in stores. But what a company like Walmart
can go on to do is actually to then
push on suppliers and push on a whole supply chain
to make a change. And so I’m surprised
not to hear much more about what private industry can do because, frankly,
I love our government folks but at the highest level it feels like we’re not getting
very much done across the globe. And then on the community side,
back to Poppy’s original question, what I loved hearing there was
this rise from the grassroots level. Right? Local is actually where we’re
getting things done at the moment, because people are kind of
sick of hearing all of the macro politic
debate go on and instead they’re saying, “OK, we’re going to take it
upon ourselves.” So what I see go on in California
is a lot of grassroots push around things
like electric vehicles, a lot of grassroots push around
how are we, as communities… ..what is going to be
our particular approach to a more renewable future
for our children? And so that, to me, feels like we should be talking more
about that. Something Nextdoor is very proud
to help put in front of people – a platform where those conversations
can begin. But communities, grassroots efforts,
and the private sector, I’d love to hear more of that
at this table, and broadly speaking. Yeah, and we’re going to hear
a little bit more about your platform in a moment.
Sure, yeah. But let me go to Mark. And there’s a vision
being spelt out here, a vision for how Australia
could change. I mean, are you on board with that? I don’t think it’s particularly
controversial anymore. I think for some time now
studies have shown that once the world economy
has transitioned to clean energy, Australia will have
the cheapest electricity of all of our major competitors –
the US, Europe, China, India – because of the points
that Ross made. We have the best solar radiation
on the planet, we have some fantastic
wind resources in the south of the continent. The question is how we’re going
to manage the transition and whether we can surf this wave or
whether it’s going to crash on us? And I think that’s the $64 trillion
question for us. Ross makes… We have seen a massive increase
in investment in renewable energy programs…
We have. We have. ..huge renewable energy programs,
in the past two years. To discharge
the renewable energy target, which has come to an end now. So, Bloomberg has said
that renewable energy investment has collapsed by 50% this year. The Clean Energy Council says
it might be more. The market operator said
this morning that this is the third month, October was the third month, with
no new solar or wind investment. And that was the implication
of the collapse of the National Energy Guarantee. I mean, the whole purpose
of that investment framework was to provide private investors
with some confidence going forward after the RET,
the Renewable Energy Target, was fully discharged,
which it was this year. So there is an investment…
OK. Alright, I want to go to Jason
to hear about that. But can I…
OK. Go ahead. Sorry. Can I go to the point
about manufacturing? It is critically important. So, in Whyalla, which was used
as a bit of a case study, about a town that was going
to be wiped off the map because of the carbon tax… We now have confidence
in my state of South Australia, in that second steel town, at record highs because the new buyer
of those steelworks has decided that the best way
to guarantee the viability of our second
blast furnace in the country is through renewable energy. I mean, it’s showing
that this can be done. In aluminium, there is
a very serious question now being discussed among all of
the big global aluminium producers and customers, like Apple, about how do you produce
zero-emissions aluminium? I mean, that is the big question
over Alcoa’s plants. Because they’ve decided, they
announced a couple of weeks ago, they want 85% of their aluminium
within the next five years to be produced
using renewable energy. That is the thing that’s hanging
over the Portland plant in Victoria. But there’s nothing coming
from federal policy… OK. Alright. ..to assist manufacturing plants
to make that transition. OK, now, on my way through
to Jason and to Sarah, I just want to hear quickly
from Ross Garnaut as to whether the Renewable
Energy Target being renewed is core to what you’re talking about, or whether private investment
will take this up independently. Well, there are a lot of problems
in the current regulatory framework that inhibits rapid growth
of new industry. And I make a number
of suggestions in the book. But the most important of them,
I think, to start building this new vision – and none of them are inconsistent with electoral commitments of
the government or the opposition at the last election – but, first of all,
implementation of a recommendation of the ACCC in their review
of the electricity sector. Secondly, there needs to be ways
for people, for private investors, to be able to build private,
unregulated transmission lines and be able to link
to the main lines in ways that reward them
for the value that they add to the regulated system. Well, for the industries
that I’m talking about, the zero-emissions metals, they are the crucial changes
that need to be introduced. And is the Renewable Energy Target
key to that, or does it not matter because the investment
will happen anyway? No, I think if you got those things,
the investment would happen anyway. But the investment
won’t happen anyway if we keep in place
the current uncertainty, and the current mess,
and the possibility that the government
will subsidise a coal plant that will make other forms
of energy uncompetitive. OK, well, that’s… Jason, over to you, and then
we’ll hear from Sarah on that. Um… So, I mean, are you going to
subsidise a coal-fired power station? Because that’s certainly
on the cards, isn’t it? No. That’s not an option
we’re considering. So it has gone off the cards, has it?
(LAUGHTER) Well, Tony, the fact
of the matter is that… It’s hard to know…
No, I’m quite serious about that. No, no. And I’ll
answer the question. If you’re saying that,
that’s actually news, isn’t it? No, no. It is without doubt the reason that
Whyalla is currently happening is because the South Australian
government just opened a gas peaker. Renewable energy
is a fantastic form of energy, but unless you have reliability
in either the form of batteries, for which the technology
does not currently exist, or pumped hydro, or hydro generally,
that can come into the market, or gas peakers, you are not…you are
simply not going to get people bringing more
renewable energy into the market. We have had a 40% increase
in renewable energy in the last two years. It had nothing to do with the RET. It’s because we have had
high subsidies… Well, we just heard
exactly the opposite analysis… I understand.
..from Mark. From Mark. Absolutely. It’s because we’ve had
very high subsidies for it. It has been a very good form of
energy to add to the marketplace. We, as of February next year, will enter a very exclusive club
of three countries, being Denmark,
Germany and ourselves, where we have one kilowatt
per capita of renewable energy being produced in Australia. I mean, that is an incredible story. So, you’re on board with Australia becoming a renewable energy
superpower, which is…? Absolutely. The ques…the point
that Ross is not talking about, but is in his book, is that he also talks about where
we get dispatchable power from. Does it come from gas?
Does it come from hydro? Does it come from…?
I did see mentioned nuclear. Are these places that we need to go? That’s the missing part
of what we have in our electricity grid
at the moment. So, just one example –
last night in Sydney, which is not a high energy
demand time, when the sun went down, wholesale prices went
from $55 a kilowatt hour to $321 a kilowatt hour. To manage that, the Snowy Hydro
and the Tumut 3 generator, I’m told, released a lot of water to
pump energy – pardon the pun – pump energy into the New South Wales
market, to halve that price. They’re the sorts of mechanisms
that we need in place. Let’s… I’ll come back to you, Ross.
Let’s hear from Sarah. McNAMARA: Thank you. So, the renewable energy target
has been a huge success story. We now see renewables making up
around 21% of our energy mix. And in the energy sector,
we’re really proud of that, and we’re expecting to see an increasing penetration
of renewables as we transition away from
more fossil fuel baseload power. But the real challenge for us,
at the moment, is we’re not getting
the private investment in that firming generation
that we so badly need to keep the lights on when the sun’s not shining
and the wind’s not blowing. And the reason for that is that
we are absent a policy framework to give investors the confidence to know what the rules
of the game are when they are coming into the market to build the kind of generation
we need to stabilise it. Whose job is to build
that policy framework? Well, it’s largely
a federal government question. It’s also a conversation that
industry can have with government, and has been trying to have
with successive governments over the last decade because… Without success? Well, we have not yet landed on a bipartisan climate and energy
policy framework, and that has infected
the investment signals that are sent to markets where private investors
would otherwise enter and spend enormous amounts of money to build long-life assets
necessary to stabilise our system. So, hang on. Just… I…
Alright, go ahead. There was one thing, which is also we’re leaving the state governments
out of this discussion as well. Mm.
Victoria has banned… Well, that’s why I asked the question
as who’s responsible. Well, Victoria has banned
any further extraction of natural gas, conventional gas. New South Wales is actually building
two import terminals, rather than extracting gas
that it has on its land. I mean, we are the Saudi Arabia
of natural gas. The Northern Territory
has just allowed exploration to commence in the Basin, and the Queensland government
is now talking about allowing exploration to begin. I mean, that’s got to be
part of the problem that we are facing in Australia. OK, Ross, a brief summary
of your position. Yeah. Thanks, Jason,
for reminding me of the third of my policies… (LAUGHTER)
..which was to establish a Commonwealth reliability
corporation to back up the system. And I would give that body, and I suggest it be a part
of the Snowy Hydro, responsible for pumped hydro. Take that out, and give that the
responsibility to build Snowy 2.0, if that’s the lowest-cost way
of doing it, to do other things
if there are other lower-cost ways of getting the peaking. But I think that is a very important
part of the overall story. There are lots of things
that have to come together to properly balance very low-cost
solar and wind – they’re current technologies – for the many hours of shifting power from one…generation
one time of the day to producing it another time. Pumped hydro storage is very good, and we’ve got low-cost sources
in Australia. Snowy’s not actually
the lowest cost. There’s a big role
for more high-voltage transmissions, so we can diversify solar and wind, get it from different places
at different times because when the wind’s blowing in the Eyre Peninsula
in South Australia, it might not be blowing
in northern New South Wales. There’s a lot of capacity, if you
engineer the new industrial systems, to deliberately manage demand, so that they can lower production,
lower use of energy at times when prices are very high, and when there’s
a shortage of power. That can be an important part
of the story. And a modern aluminium plant
can make a very big contribution. So, can I just boil down
what you’re saying? So, you need some form of
central planning to make this happen? JASON: Don’t say yes. No.
(LAUGHS) I’m going to back your policy…
Thank you. Thank you. ..on Snowy Hydro.
Thank you. Snowy Hydro’s project might not
be the best project, but the idea
of a Commonwealth authority playing a backup role
for reliability, I think, is a good idea.
OK, let’s move on. Remember, if you hear
any doubtful claims on Q&A, let us know on Twitter. Keep an eye
on the RMIT ABC Fact Check and The Conversation website
for the results. The next question comes
from Jingjing You. So, the US has an active
‘angel’ capital environment for risky start-up ideas,
in Silicon Valley, but Australia seems to be
more conservative. Investing in risky ideas is fundamental
for economic breakthrough. So, how can we encourage this risk-taking culture
in Australia? Sarah Friar. It’s a great question
because it’s true, not just Australia. I’m actually… I don’t sound it,
but I grew up in the UK. I grew up in Northern Ireland,
and I think we face all the same problems
in Europe, as well. What I’ve seen in Silicon Valley
is an ecosystem. It actually begins
with universities, which… You have great universities here, so you have the beginning
building block. But then, you need the capital, but capital is largely available
and free in the world right now. We’re in a zero interest rate
environment. So, capital is there. And then, the third piece is,
as you said, teaching investors,
as well as companies, how to invest with more
of a long-term frame of mind. And the thing I see most often
made as a mistake – I’m more au fait with the UK market
than the Australian market – is that investors think
that managing risk means giving companies
smaller chunks so that they have to hit a milestone
before they get the next chunk. As a CEO of a start-up, the worst thing
that you can do to me is distract me from job number one,
which is building my company. And when you make me go on the road to fundraise for the next
little breadcrumb, you’re effectively preventing me
from building a big company. And I think that’s what
Silicon Valley has gotten right is that there’s less of this kind of teasing
small amounts of investment capital, and there’s much more willingness
to lean in. Now, with that brings risk.
That’s why you have a portfolio. But in particular, once you start
getting that flywheel going, and you see serial entrepreneurs… So, their first venture
may not have worked, but you actually want to reward
the fact that they learned a lot. That’s actually when you start
to see investments kicking into gear and actually being successful, because you get
a serial entrepreneur that’s not going to make the same
mistakes the second time around. So, I would say it’s, one, don’t tease people
with small amounts of capital. If you’re going to invest,
give them the money. Two, reward people for
going through multiple iterations. And then, three, it’s, you know, where the whole ecosystem
comes to play. So, you need to start
with the seed investors, but make sure that there’s hands
as you go up the cap table, through your A round, your B round, to, ultimately, whatever
your growth round is, and then have a public market
that’s ready for those ventures, that can make it to the other side and be a big public
market cap company. You talked about capital
being almost free. Just give us an idea
of the scale of what’s available, because the digital economy is now, in a very relatively
short space of time anyway, worth something like US$30 trillion.
Mm-hm. So, within that,
that’s a huge pool of capital. Yeah. And so, when you look
at most Silicon Valley seed rounds, you’re talking about companies
that are still getting a couple of million dollars
to get going. And again, when I go back
and look at markets like the UK, and I suspect Australia is similar, it’s almost like you get a tenth. Everything is about a tenth
of the scale. If you look at a company
like my own company, Nextdoor, we have raised
almost half a billion dollars. We’re still young
in our evolution as a company, in terms of monetising the platform
that we’ve built, but investors are leaning in
because they’re willing to say, “OK, you’ve proven in the US
that you can do this. “Now, you’re in 11 countries, “but we know
that playbook will come.” So, there is definitely
capital available, and investors are looking
desperately across the whole cap table for any sort of return
at the moment. So, I actually think
the bigger danger on my side of the fence
is not taking the capital. What you really are taking
is the wisdom and the help of a really strong investor, to help you with the business
that you are in. Not just, kind of,
where the money is, but where is the actual advice
that’s going to come, the folks who are going to dig in and work right alongside you
in the trenches. Jason, I see you nodding there, and of course, you want, you know,
social media entrepreneurs and others to emerge in Australia, and to get access
to this massive pool of capital. Just what the world needs –
more social media. (LAUGHTER)
Yeah, that’s right. Well, I mean,
that just happens to be this case, but there is many opportunities
in the digital economy. Yeah. So, why isn’t it happening here,
in Australia, to the scale that it is
in Silicon Valley? Are we kind of behind… Are we behind the issue here? Well, yes, we are. I think Sarah has left
one really important factor out, which we all take for granted
when we’re in the middle of it, which is culture. And in Silicon Valley, there is…
It’s the one place in the world… I’m sure there are others,
but it’s the one place in the world where, if you say,
“Have you failed?”, and you say,
“No, I’ve never failed,” they go, “Well, you know,
see you once you’ve failed.” Mm.
It is… They… Silicon Valley celebrates
your successes, as well as your failures, because there’s that great
Thomas Edison quote about… It took him 10,000 experiments
to get the light bulb to work, and a New York Times journalist
came and saw him about 7,500 experiments in
that had failed, and he said,
“Why don’t you just give up?” And he said,
“You don’t understand. “I’m 7,500 times closer
to solving this problem.” (LAUGHTER)
And that is something that Silicon Valley does
really well. So, what’s wrong
with the culture in Australia, that that doesn’t happen? Well, it’s not just Australia.
I mean, I would argue… I mean, Sarah is better placed
to answer this than me. I think there are large parts
in the United States, where failure is frowned upon
as well. Yep. Houston and Dallas seem to be places
where that’s changing. New York, of course, is
a great place for failures. We won’t get into that.
(LAUGHTER) And Silicon Valley as well.
And bankrupts, right? Well, I’m not going to say.
Yes, OK. But the…but the…
I think there’s that. And also, in Australia,
our regulations, in terms of the way
that we distribute capital, we have put a lot more
responsibility back on banking… ..banks and bankers, in order that the borrower
takes no risk, and the lender has all the risk. One great innovation we have
out of the United States, which is really gumming up
our system is litigation funders, and shareholder class actions, which have got a lot of directors
in Australia just jumping at shadows
at the moment. OK. A lot of people want
to hear more about Sarah’s platform. We have a question about it
from Sebastian Wolf. Thanks, Tony. Hi, Sarah Friar.
This question’s for you. So, Nextdoor is an application that’s built to create trust
and stronger neighbourhoods. It’s been described
as the anti-Facebook. But how is this community building,
and not simply marketing? Why should we trust
another private company to run this initiative? Thank you, Sebastian.
I appreciate the question. So, let me take…give you
a little bit of the differences. So, Nextdoor is founded on trust. One of the key tenets,
when you come into Nextdoor, is that we verify
that you are a real neighbour living in that neighbourhood. And so, it’s actually a bit more of a friction-ful
on-boarding process. That’s a very Silicon Valley term. But we actually take the time
to really make sure it’s you. A friction-ful on-boarding process. Friction-ful, because Silicon Valley
loves frictionless, like, “Zip. You’re in,
and off you go. “You’re on the platform.” The second thing that we do is
that once you’re in the platform, we really lean into this idea
of proximity over preference. And what I mean by that is
Nextdoor is creating a local graph. So, Facebook is creating
your friend graph. LinkedIn, creating
your professional graph. And often, in local,
you actually don’t know the people who live around you, right? This is one of the reasons the founders got so excited
about this idea was the fact that
we see more and more communities, frankly, starting to dissolve. Right, we probably all grew up
knowing our neighbours. I lived in my neighbour’s house. And yet many of us, most of us
today in Australia, one in four people
talk about being lonely at least two to three times
per week. You see, Facebook claims
to be creating communities. If you’re the anti-Facebook,
what’s actually different? I mean, apart from it
being smaller scale? So, go back to this idea that, first and foremost,
you know who’s in your networks. So there’s no trolls,
there’s no bots. People are acting in a much more
community-minded, kind way. And we think that’s a big part
of a community build. We have gone as far to try
to insert more safety by design. So, actually meeting with the
eSafety Commissioner earlier today. We have seen… We worry about instability
building on the platform. We have seen it in Facebook groups. So, I had a member meet-up today
and a number of them talked about the toxicity of
Facebook in these larger groups. Because it’s almost… People become unaccountable because there’s such
a mass number of people. So, if you go back
to a smaller group where you are that real person, and it’s your name
and your address when you post and we put in place something called
a kindness reminder. So, using ML, when we see content
that’s about to get posted, that we know is likely
to get reported, we actually pull up a little model. We’re doing
a couple of things there. We’re trying to slow you down… Can I interrupt you for one second
on the slowing people down thing? Yeah.
I’ll slow you down for one second. There has been a sort of critique
of some elements of this. For example, the crime
in communities. There’s been a suggestion
that the neighbourhoods engage in racial profiling. “Oh, we’ve seen a black person
in the neighbourhood, “maybe there’s crime happening.” And that actually creates
incivility, the very thing that
you are trying to avoid. How do you deal with that? So, slowing down. We spent a bunch of time talking to
a range of academics on this point. So, in our reptilian brain,
our biases are rampant, right? They keep us alive. So, when we’re asked to go fast, which is what
so many social platforms do – right, post, engage, like, – you lose all of the part that you’ve learned up here
in your cognitive brain which says,
“Oh, maybe I’m being biased. “Oh, my brain is
telling me to do one thing “but I know from experience
that’s not the case.” So, in the kindness reminder, we pop that up and we let you know
that we bring you back to here because we ask you to read
something that says, “Great communities
are created with kindness.” In crime and safety posts,
we actually slow you down and have you actually describe
what’s happening. So, explain what is
the suspicious activity. Suspicious activity is not standing
on the side of the street or walking down the street. We ask you to describe the person, not around their colour of skin, for example, but things like,
what are they wearing? So, we force you into
much more of a way to describe a true potential
crime and safety issue happening, which is important
for safer neighbourhoods. And we see this happen in Australia
all the time. People say, “Hey, someone tried to
jimmy my window last night. “Someone tried
to break into my garage.” And it’s a way to tell
the neighbourhood to be a little more careful. But that slowing down
is incredibly important, and actually we have seen, from
a racial profiling perspective, once we slowed people down, racial profiling moderated posts
fell by almost 80%. I’m just wondering
if kindness reminders might work in parliament, Mark? (LAUGHTER) It sounded like you were
calling for that at the beginning of the program. But actually, we’re going
to move on quickly because we have got a couple
of questions on Labor’s post-mortem. The first one is from
Christopher Masson. JASON: Speaking of kindness.
(LAUGHS) Christopher Masson. Like many Australians, I was bitterly disappointed
by the election result and shortly afterwards
I joined the Labor Party. But since becoming a member, I’ve been increasingly frustrated
by the party’s lack of direction and the messaging
from frontbenchers who continue to espouse
that Labor should continue with a bold, progressive agenda and not paint itself
as a small target or Liberal lite, while simultaneously, they fold
on every issue and… Sorry! (LAUGHS) And they’re unable to gain
any traction. Most disappointingly
was, of course, that people openly floated the idea of
abandoning climate change policies. Um… Sorry! (LAUGHS)
No, that’s OK. I think we’ve got the basic point. I’ll keep on going.
Yeah, OK. Um… (LAUGHS) Sorry! No, no, I’m going to do it. I think it’s your T-shirt
that’s distracting you. Maybe, maybe! No… Che Julia.
I had hoped that the post-mortem would reset the conversation but Albanese’s performance
on Insiders yesterday seemed to contradict that. I understand there will be a period
of recalibration after such a loss, but when will it end? Where are the new ideas?
Where is the ambition? Or should we all look forward
to another 12 months of frontbenchers equivocating when asked if franking credits
will be retained or jettisoned? OK, so you pulled the big question
out at the end there. That’s fantastic,
thank you very much. Mark? Always good to have franking credits dropped on the table
right at the end. (LAUGHTER) Well, welcome to the party.
I hope you stay. (LAUGHTER) We need you!
JASON: Really? (LAUGHS) First of all, it was important
that we conduct a review, a very searing review, after
losing our third election in a row. And I have talked a bit about
the scale of this particular loss. This was not a loss against
John Howard at the height of his powers. This was a loss against a government that, frankly, I think they would
even admit in their honest moments had been pretty divided
and a bit of a rabble. So, it’s important
that we have a very serious look at why we lost an election that
I think everyone expected us to win. But the delivery of the report
last week, Anthony’s speech
at the National Press Club really should draw
a line under that. We’ve had a series of
recommendations that were given to us
by Jay Weatherill and Craig Emerson. We’ve accepted them all
at the national executive and it’s about implementation
and moving forward now. As Anthony has said, as we lead into our national
conference at the end of next year, there will be
a very serious discussion about our broad principles,
our vision. Now, that doesn’t mean that
we’ll be reviewing our core values. As I’ve said, as the person
with the responsibility for climate change policy, we will not be reviewing
our commitment to climate action that is consistent with
what scientists have told us we need to do to keep global warming
well below two degrees and to pursue efforts
around 1.5 degrees. So, your targets around
climate change simply won’t change, no matter what some people
in the party are saying? Is that what you’re suggesting? Well, the inevitable consequence
of the Paris Climate Agreement that was described earlier, is that our economy and other economies
around the world need to be at net zero emissions
by the middle of the century. You need to have a series of
medium-term targets that are consistent
with that trajectory. So, the targets that are
set in place now, they won’t change – is that what you are saying? Those key points
will change over time. The 2030 target
was something being discussed in the middle of the last decade. As a number of stakeholders
have made clear, the Carbon Market Institute
and others, have made it clear. By the time we get to
the next election the world will be discussing
2035 targets, not 2030 targets. So, the point,
as a matter of principle, though, is to be on the pathway
to net zero emissions by 2050, not expect that we’re gonna do
all the work in 2048 and 2049, to get on with it now. Because the longer we delay it, the harder it is
for future generations and the more we miss out
on the jobs and investment that Ross
talks about in his book. So, yes, we’ll look at our policies, but we’re not going to review our core commitment
to climate action, a generational responsibility
to our children and grandchildren, any more than a review
of our health policies is going to reconsider
our commitment to Medicare. Our core values will remain in place and they’ll be the subject
of the gradual development of more detailed policies
between now and the next election. So, can I just interpolate here? Are you saying that the targets
may change – that is, the climate change targets
you’re committed to now may change – but the idea will remain the same? Well, that’s not quite how I put it. But the core principle
remains the same. That’s what I’m asking you.
That’s the question. Look, our economy
and all other economies need to get on a pathway
of decarbonisation. And scientists have been very clear about the sort of steepness
that pathway reflects. Now, you can choose a point
in that pathway at 2030 or 2035 and really…
What’s your current target? Well, it’s currently –
well, it was at the last election – a 2030 target of 45% reduction
in emissions based on 2005 levels. And will that change…
Let me finish, Tony. ..or will that not change? I made the point that
that was a target recommended by
the Climate Change Authority, now more than five years ago. And when they made
that recommendation, they had in mind
a 15-year implementation. By the 2022 election,
we’ll be over halfway through that and the world will be thinking
about 2035 targets. So, we may be talking about
a different number and a different date.
It could get bigger. But the principle
will remain the same. We’ve got to get on that pathway…
Alright, so… ..or we’ll be betraying our children
and our grandchildren and we’ll miss out
on the jobs… Let’s quickly hear
from the other panellists. And, Jason, what do you think
Labor would have to do to become more competitive? Oh, well, that’s really a question
for the Labor Party, and uh… No, it’s a question for you.
I just asked you. (LAUGHTER)
And… All the sorts of things that I’m going to advise them to do,
they shouldn’t do. So, let me put it that way. Look, I feel for the Labor Party.
I’m a member of the Liberal Party. We’ve had all sorts of
unlosable elections that we faced. People don’t often… Tony, dare I say it, yourself, don’t…sometimes forget that
we’re all human beings in politics. I have never forgotten
you’re a human being, Jason. Well, maybe not me, just others! And I think, you know,
Mark and his team must be feeling very bad
about what happened. I think they put in
a very good election campaign. The last parliament, they were
a very effective opposition. I hope Mark is right, they can draw a line
underneath this and rejoin the contest of ideas because that’s makes our parliament
better and our nation better place. It sound like your kindness thing
is starting to work. And it’s just by osmosis,
apparently! I’m telling you. Kindness reminder.
Slow everyone down! (LAUGHTER)
Sarah, what do you think? Well, I think it’s totally
appropriate that the Labor Party
has taken its time since its election loss to consider where it went right
and where it went wrong. And in the industry,
we make a point of dealing with both governments
and opposition on energy policy because it is so important that
we get these policy settings right and that we find bipartisanship
opportunities where we can. So we’re looking forward to
re-engaging with Mark and his team once they’re ready
to start discussing their new policy settings. And, Ross, what do you think? I mean, you did that report
for the Rudd government, really, so you were working with
a Labor government with high hopes. What are your views now
about the current Labor set-up? Well, I think that we do need,
first of all, to be clear that we’ve got to be
zero net emissions before mid-century, for us to play our part
in the global effort. That’s clear from the science. Our Climate Change Authority
advised us on that. It’s there in the Paris Agreement. That’s the core of
the Paris Agreement. Everything else is a subsidiary
to that objective. Once we’re clear on that, and once we understand
that it’s actually cheaper and has many economic advantages
for us in moving quickly, rather than leaving it all
to the last moment, then we’ll push aside all sorts
of arguments for going slower to protect some little interest
or other that’s getting in the road of jobs
and incomes and opportunity for Australians as well as for dealing with the
very big problem of climate change. So, I think
the most important thing is for us all to share that very strong commitment
to zero net emissions before mid-century and to understand that
it’s getting to be very costly and miss out on
a lot of opportunities if we leave prompt progress
for too long. That’s where
we’ll have to leave it. Thank you very much
for joining us tonight. Please thank our panel –
Sarah McNamara, Jason Falinski, Ross Garnaut,
Sarah Friar and Mark Butler. (APPLAUSE) Thank you very much. Now, you can continue the discussion
on Facebook and Twitter. Now, next week on Q&A, we’ll be straight after
Australia Talks, the ABC’s intensive look into
the opinions of ordinary Australians on everything from sex
and religion to neighbours and the cost of living. We’ll be broadcasting live from Perth with the federal attorney-general,
Christian Porter, West Australian Labor MP Anne Aly, human rights lawyer Hannah McGlade and Fitzroy Crossing broadcaster
and people’s panellist, Dylan Storer,
who impressed so many of us when he appeared on the Q&A
High School Special last year. Until next Monday, goodnight. (APPLAUSE) Captions by Red Bee Media Copyright Australian
Broadcasting Corporation

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Comments
  • Iron Oxide is rust… we gonna make our steel out of scraps are we … left wing loons will say anything and the sheeple nod and agree 28:30 … you want to stop producing emmission don't eat cause all our food relies on CO2 you absolute f wits!!!!

  • Although Australia made less than 0.3% of the world population they think they can save the world by introducing 15% of renewable energy. So dumb. China must be laughing !

  • Does anyone out there wear a top hat? I’ve been thinking about incorporating one into my day to day life, but I’m not sure if it would be deemed appropriate. I’m not talking about formal events as such, but maybe just with a pair of smart casual jeans, a well fit t-shirt and maybe some canvas shoes. Do you think I need a moustache or some other classic accessory to compliment it?

  • I laugh at the commentators these days…"leftists" and "RWNJs" Where's the logic in that?? Adding fuel to the fire so-to-speak in this divide and conquer paradigm.

  • Last week we had terrorists braying for violence, this week we get a religious cult based on a conspiracy theory spread by the globalist marxist UN. The ABC needs to be closed down.

  • One would have thought that with Australias constant droughts, bushfires that have been happening long before climate change became a catchword (not denying, just noting these aren't the worst of the worst bushfires Australia has had), that we would've developed a more professional fire fighting force, one that is paid like the Army Reserve. We should have a drought emergency plan ready for action that just needs tinkering as it is rolled out. We always claim to have the best but the equipment, technology, plans, innovations are not world-class in fire fighting. Our worst fires have been the Black Thursday with 12,000,000 and the 1974/75 fires with 11,000,000 acres. And it seems we haven't modernised our force at all. And we'll forget out these fires, droughts after they are all over.

  • Wow Mark butler off to a flaming start, pretending to care that disasters shouldnt be politicized and then trying to score political points off the greens in the same breath. What a boring hypocrite

  • VERY BIG PROBLEM METHANE IS A BIG BOMB (PERMAFROST) , every day coming 200.000 new polluters to this planet. Nobody will stop this and oil is used more and more. So take your health insurance cards, possessions, money, credit cards, language skills, diplomas and fancy titles. In 10 till 12 years you can burn it with the rest of this planet

    Further to mention: rising water levels, more CO2 makes quality of food production less, climate refugees, war, extreme weather events, extinction of plants and animals (humans), oceans will change in chemical way, burning of our woods, drought, diseases, plagues, earth quakes, pressure in Earth's crust, maybe rotation of planet, human conflicts about food and water and so on ………….

  • Why is it the very people who scream climate change and global warming are also those who oppose coal and nuclear energy as a means of doing anything while keeping the lights on. What is their reality ? We are so far from powering this country using renewables it's laughable especially as the technology to do so hasn't been invented yet. Their entire argument makes about as much sense as building a hydro scheme in Alice Springs. These same idiots complain about energy prices but allowed governments to contemplate carbon taxes and the selling off their energy assets as if either of those were ever going to make anything cheaper. If most of the people you have on your show are our smartest and brightest then God help us all.

  • OK, last week the ABC promoted arson, this week they say have a program about the effects of arsonists and call those arsonists a result of climate. The ABC needs criminal proceedings against it.

  • Labor lost because of their global warming hysterics. Here's hoping they continue to double diwn, ensuring eternity in opposition

  • Q&A, you have taken down the previous week's show which was an all-female, feminist panel. that was one of the better, more enjoyable episodes you have done, so please take it off private. so what if one of the panellists is repeatedly swearing. it has great effect and was fine!

  • Australia only omits 1.3% of global CO2 whilst India and Chinas emissions skyrocket with China making up half of all world polluters. So if Australia transitioned to 100% renewables tomorrow you would end up with little to no change in the worlds overall climate putting the burden on Australia’s industrial sector leaving Australians with higher taxes resulting in a more greatly weakening economy than previous. Which is utterly foolish particularly during these times of great economic uncertainty and economic headwinds. I very much doubt kids at school are exposed to that side of the argument and I bet you the economic aspect of it doesn’t even factor in to there collective hysteria

    People seem to have this perceived notion that Australia alone is responsible for the worlds climate and therefore Australia alone should be the ones pulling the wait that other countries otherwise should be pulling. On the contrary, Australia has been 3rd in line before Iceland when it comes to contributing its fare share of lowering carbon emissions necessary for adhering to the Paris Agreement which where on track to meet by 2030 whilst at the same time exceeding our 2020 Kyoto targets. Not to mention Australia’s record spending on renewables that people happily take for granted and persistently overlook

    So I would argue strongly that it would be both unfair and unwise to place all the economic burden on just Australia alone and not appreciate the success that’s already being made which is only going to get better with time. It wouldn’t be awfully intelligent from an economic perspective to bite more than we can chew when it comes to tackling such a complex and multi variant issue such as this considering the repercussions that would greatly factor in such an undertaking

  • The old guy scientist hasn’t researched very well. Germany and Denmark unit price for electricity is highest in the world. Germany tried doing exactly what this drongo is suggesting Australia is to do as a alternative energy power house. Germany tried it with solar but China undercut them with cheaper products. Germany tried manufacturing industries nearly collapsed as they realised they needed a stable electricity supply, solar and wind didn’t cut it. The whole concept collapsed and the ramifications of the failure has yet to be felt by the country.
    His early science reports have been proven wrong and the real climate scientist community laughing at his total ineptitude. Not one person asked the most crucial question, what is the total percentage of man made CO2 in the total atmosphere, answer 0.012% and they believe this is the cause of climate extremism.

  • SCOMMO.. refused to speak the the Fire Chiefs.. becuase they pointed to CLIMATE CHANGE as at contributing factor to extreme fires

  • if it was climate change there'd be a threat in Arnhemland. No. it's custodian change. Ask Bill Gammage and my mates in Milingimbi.

  • So so boring… Week after week it's 5 or 6 panelists with similar opionions virtue signalling to an elitist audience… It's one giant echo chamber.

  • The liberals party and there cousins! Don’t support real action on the climate crisis! The climate council don’t believe the government! So don’t be misguided by the government BS!

    Change any government that does not support real action on the climate crisis!

  • You should have to pass some sort of standardised IQ test to vote, stupid people voting in corrupt idiots has gone on far too long. This country will get worse and worse until the system is overhauled.

  • The only reason anyone including the Chinese are using so much Coal is building Navies, Armies and Airforces, its what caused the tensions between Germany and England before WW1 because the Germans were making better use of the second industrial revolution.

  • The Governments can do it far more cheaply then turning more arseholes into millionaires. Have you learned nothing from Public Private Partnerships, how stupid are Australians, still, look at the Yanks. Look at Bernie Sanders.

  • Sarahs comment translated into English, we need to know where we get the biggest bag of money. We need the Government to use socialism for the rich to create another bubble we can rape, pillage and plunder.

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