Andrew McKellar interview with Alicia Barry, ABC News The Business

05 Aug 2022 |

Event: Andrew McKellar interview with Alicia Barry, ABC News The Business.
Speakers: Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Alicia Barry, host ABC News The Business.
Date: 4 August 2022.
Topics: Climate Change Bill; energy supply, reliability, and affordability; climate-related investments; business confidence; new employment opportunities.

E&OE 

Alicia Barry, host ABC News The Business: Andrew McKellar, welcome to The Business.

Andrew McKellar, chief executive Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Great to be with you.

Alicia: The bill has passed with the support of your members.

Andrew: Business has been supportive through this process. I think the most important thing for Business is that we see that there is a clear plan. We know that there are actually many opportunities to create investment, jobs, and economic growth, if we can get that plan in place. Look, the right thing here, what we’ve been encouraging is really for all parties in the parliament to get behind this. It’s in the national interest. We need to meet our international obligations and really there are a lot of opportunities there.

Alicia: And on that point, we heard from the prime minister in his press conference, just following the passing of the bill, essentially saying the Coalition has isolated itself from the business community, urging it to support the bill in the Senate next month. What’s your message?

Andrew: Well, we have said, consistently now for a number of months, we think this is something that should be supported by all parties in the parliament. It’s in the national interest. It’s a tough plan, but it’s achievable. So there is a level of ambition there. We need to lift our game to meet these targets, but there’s also opportunity. And we think that it will create jobs, it will generate investment.

Alicia: The PM singled out to the peak business groups like yourselves as supporting the bill. I mean, you touched on it then, but why is this the way forward for business?

Andrew: It’s really about certainty. So what we’re trying to do is attract investment to Australia. It’s about also ensuring that business has access to secure and affordable energy supply. What we’ve seen over the past couple of months, the disruption that can be caused with the energy markets, whether it be electricity or gas, particularly on the east coast of Australia, if things are not functioning well. Now, we need to get in place that significant investment in renewable energy capacity. There has to be a transition. We have to be realistic about this. But I think having a very clear plan about how that’s going to be done, understanding the level of investment that’s required, then that’s what business is looking for.

Alicia: And if the debate over the emissions reduction target continues in Canberra, what does it do to business’ confidence on climate related investments?

Andrew: Well, I think this is where we do hope that the legislation will be passed. It’s gone through the House of Representatives now. Let’s see what comes out of the Senate process. We think that really if all parties are behind it, then it will provide greater confidence. But look, on balance, one has to expect that this will succeed now. There’s a lot of hard work ahead. There will be some adjustments that are required as part of the process. But in the end, business is confident that the Australian economy will be a winner out of this process.

Alicia: Well, on that point about the economy, the prime minister says the bill provides the framework for 600,000 jobs to be created. Is that a credible figure?

Andrew: Look, they’ve done their modelling. They have obviously got to update that in terms of the advice that they get now that they are in government. But I think this is the important thing. There is a degree of rigour behind this. We know it’s an ambitious plan, but when you put the various pieces together in terms of the investment in renewable energy, the other components of the plan, then we think it provides a credible basis to move forward.

Alicia: Andrew McKellar, thanks for your time.

Andrew: Great. Thanks very much.

Jack Quail | Media adviser

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