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Tuesday, 12 September 2017
Page: 10038

Energy


Mrs WICKS (Robertson) (14:05): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on what the government is doing to ensure that there is no gap in reliable base-load power for households and businesses, including in my electorate of Robertson? Is the Prime Minister aware of any alternative approaches?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:06): I thank the honourable member for her question. She well understands the importance of reliable base-load power. So much of it is generated in her electorate and, indeed, for the benefit of all of the families and businesses in her electorate. The truth of the matter is that we have for a long time in Australia been substituting high-emission dispatchable power with low-emission variable power. What that has done, as everyone should understand by now, is put our electricity system at grave risk. We cannot afford to have another large base-load generator go out of operation unless there is the adequate base-load power to replace it. We cannot have another Hazelwood. The consequence of Hazelwood was that wholesale prices in New South Wales alone went up by nearly double—by over $50 a megawatt-hour. Talk about why electricity prices are going up; that is a big part of the answer to that question.

When we were told by AEMO, who we asked to report on this, what would happen if Liddell closed as forecast in 2022—they said there would be a thousand-megawatt gap in base-load power—the obvious solution to that was to keep Liddell going for a longer period. Plainly, that was the most obvious solution. You would think the Labor Party would recognise the obvious, but, oh no, they turned their back on that just like he turns his back on me at the moment. I'll tell you who's not turning his back. The member for Hunter is not turning his back on Andy Vesey. Oh yes—the Labor Party are not prepared to protect tilers and plasterers who are not part of a CFMEU approved contractor. They're not prepared to protect workers on building sites from union thuggery and bullying, but they are quick to rush to the aid of multimillionaire American chief executives of giant electricity companies. 'Well,' says the member for Hunter, 'Andy Vesey is being bullied by the Prime Minister.' Bullied! He couldn't even sell that to Patricia Karvelas. She came back and said, 'Come on. Do you really think he's being bullied?' 'Oh yes,' he said. He goes on and on about the bullying. He rushes to aid him: 'Andy Vesey was bullied into taking this proposal to the board.' He said, 'Of course, when the Prime Minister stares you down,'—most people would regard that as a compliment by the way—'you say'(Time expired)