06 December 2021

LEIGH SALES, HOST: Chris Bowen is the shadow Climate Change and Energy Minister. Thanks very much for coming in.
SALES: Labor says that its climate change policy will create more than 600,000 jobs. In any transition to new technology, you also lose jobs because people have expertise running the old technology. How many jobs will be lost?
BOWEN: None as a result of our policies, Leigh. The modelling is about Labor's policies. The Government's own modelling did find that of course, there's a global transition to decarbonisation underway which will impact on Australian jobs, particularly around coal. The Government's own modelling found that, but this model is about Labor's policy and no jobs are lost as a result of any Labor policies in the climate change portfolio. And as you said, 604,000 jobs created, unleashing $52 billion worth of private investment to get a much more accelerated transition to renewable energy underway under a Labor Government.
SALES: So just to be clear, so what you're saying if I'm understanding correctly, is jobs, of course are going to be lost, but your policy is not causing any additional job losses beyond what’s anticipated?
BOWEN: We have always said-- I remember my first interview in this portfolio, which was the day I became Shadow Minister for Climate Change with you on this show. I said we have to be honest with people the world is changing the world is decarbonizing. 70% of our trading partners are committed to net zero. And that's going to impact on us. I said, we have to be honest about that. And we are honest about that. But also last Friday, we announced Anthony and I a very significant policy suite designed to ensure that the world's climate emergency is Australia's jobs opportunity because we could actually lead the world in renewable energy.
SALES: There would be people watching tonight who live in the Hunter, who live in the Illawarra, who live in regional Queensland who hear what you're saying, but they still feel worried because they think Yeah, but I work in those industries. So have you done any modelling on for those people who work in those spaces? What happens to them?
BOWEN: Well, five out of the six jobs created under our plan are in regional Australia. So that gives people whose jobs are impacted by world trends, more opportunities, more choice, a more diversified economy.
SALES: And so do you think those people that I'm talking about will just retrain and move into these new jobs?
BOWEN: Well, they'll have, they will have options. Again Leigh, our policies don't see any jobs lost as a result of our policy levers, but we recognise the world is changing. For example, coal fired power stations are reaching the end of their natural life, not brought forward by Labor policies, but as a statement of fact that they're reaching the end of their natural life and won't be replaced with new coal fired power. And we need to provide new opportunities, we need to provide the opportunities in renewable energy generation, in transmission , very importantly, we need to massively upgrade our transmission grid that will create 1000s of jobs in the regions. Storage, we need to massively increase our storage because the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine. But neither does the rain always fall Leigh but we still store water and that creates jobs. We can store and will store more renewable energy under a Labor Government.
SALES: So with the 600,000 new jobs, Labor predicts that about 64,000 are directly related to your policies and then 540,000 jobs are indirect. So that means for every one job directly created, you predicting nine more will be indirectly created. The former ACTU boss and Labor MP, Jenny George wrote a letter to the editor today, and she said that steel’s the backbone of the Illawarra region where she is, but it creates only about three indirect jobs for every one job. So why is your multiplier at nine so much higher?
BOWEN: Well, Jenny George's service to the Labor Party in the Parliament should be respected, but with respect, she's wrong. In the modelling by Reputex is very substantial, they go through and they explain the methodology that they take a sector by sector approach to determining the multipliers. And they find that's the result. And they find, for example, in electricity, they have five different inputs that have determined the multiplier, but take that example. BlueScope itself has committed to net zero, there's a massive transition underway. Green steel has massive opportunities with the right policy framework. And as I said, that transmission upgrade that I talked about, that's going to require steel, it's going to require massive Australian resources as well as the massive job creation that goes into actually laying out the transmission lines, because we need to massively upgrade our grid so the modelling is very robust and Jenny’s entitled, of course to her views, but the modelling does stand up to scrutiny.
SALES: Those regions that I mentioned before, you guys need to hold seats or win seats in those places. So what's your message to people watching tonight who feel nervous about “Yep, I'm on board with climate change, and I believe in what you're talking about, but what does it mean for me? I'm worried about my family. I'm worried about my job”
BOWEN: Well particularly in those regions that you're asking about. These are the regions that are powered Australia for generations. The Hunter Valley yes, the Illawarra, Central and North Queensland, the Latrobe Valley. These are the areas that have powered Australia and will power Australia under a renewable economy under a Labor Government, because they have-- sure they've got the space for the big renewable installations. They've got the access to the energy grid where it's most powerful. They've got the access to the ports for exporting renewable energy through hydrogen in due course. But more important than that Leigh, they have the skills. I mean, the skills which go into making energy in a traditional way are very similar to the skills that go into making, storing and transmitting renewable energy. And we're going to need to create a lot more electricity in Australia. What's the key here Leigh?  To electrify everything that can be electrified, our cars, our transport, our home heating, that's going to require more energy, not less
SALES: On electrifying things. Let's take one of the best-selling cars in Australia this year, the Hyundai i30. It costs about $25,000 if you buy a new one. What's your best prediction under a Labor Government as to when I would be able to buy that equivalent sized car for $25,000 but electric?
BOWEN: Well, our policy is the electric vehicle tax cut the main lever that we're pushing, we have a couple of electric vehicle policies, including electrifying the Commonwealth fleet, which is important because that will then flow through to secondhand sales about three years later, which is very important. So we'd have 75% of our new Commonwealth vehicles, not just Comcars but the entire fleet as electric by 2025.
SALES: Yeah, just for a consumer …
BOWEN: Yeah I’m just getting to that, fair call. We would cut the taxes on electric vehicles below the luxury car tax threshold, so the more affordable ones. We'd cut the tariff abolish the tariff, where a tariff is payable on an electric vehicle. And for businesses, we would abolish the fringe benefits tax. Now, why is that important?
SALES: Yeah but sorry, Chris, to cut you off, you're talking in a way that the average person is just going over their heads. I just want to know, like, when can I buy an electric car for 25,000 bucks?
BOWEN: Well, our tax cut, which is the policy that will apply will take roughly say $2,000 off the cost by the tariff reduction and for a business $9,000 off and a business is just important, apart from the fact that around 50% of car sales are fleet, it then flows through again to the secondhand market, so you get more affordable second-hand electric vehicles three years later.
SALES: Yeah but it costs $70,000 to get a Tesla model three.
BOWEN: Yeah, those ones do and we see other countries with more affordable EVs available, and we want to make those EVs more affordable in Australia by cutting the taxes. And then you put on top of that some of the state rebates. Many states now have rebates for buying electric vehicles, Labor and Liberal. You put that together with a tax cut under a Labor Government, you do get electric vehicles more affordable, but only with a policy framework to achieve it.
SALES: How soon? Because people have to decide now “Should I get a new car next year? Should I wait five years? When should I get an electric vehicle?”
BOWEN: Well, our tax cut would apply, you know, from the first of July when we come to office. The State rebates are already there. So they'll start working. They'll start working, you know, we have a very low electric vehicle sales rate in Australia, the lowest in the world. That needs to turn around. And Australian's have got to have choice. We want to give Australians that choice by making the electric vehicles more affordable. That's exactly what our policy will achieve.
SALES: Chris Bowen, thank you.
BOWEN: Great pleasure Leigh.