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Tuesday, 12 September 2017
Page: 10043


Mr HOWARTH (Petrie) (14:24): My question is also to the Minister for the Environment and Energy. Will the minister please update the House on action the government is taking to ensure there is enough baseload power to deliver not just affordable but also reliable energy supplies to Australian families and businesses that employ Australians? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongMinister for the Environment and Energy) (14:25): I thank the member for Petrie for his question, and I acknowledge his focus on getting affordable and reliable power. That's why he supports the actions of the Turnbull government to ensure more gas for domestic users, to rein in the power of the network companies and the pole and wire companies, and also to ensure that the retailers offer millions of Australian households a better deal. We're in possession of the Australian Energy Market Operator's report, which indicates a supply shortfall were Liddell to close in 2022. That's why we began discussions with the company AGL.

On this side of the House, we understand the importance of coal to the energy mix. We understand the importance of keeping these assets going for longer. The Labor Party, on the other hand, wants to close coal-fired power stations. The Leader of the Opposition will say in this parliament that coal has no future in Australia, but then he will go and put the high-vis vest on and say, 'Coal has a future in Australia.'

Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Hunter will cease interjecting.

Mr FRYDENBERG: But he's not the only one who will say one thing to blue-collar workers and then say another thing to the Canberra press gallery pack, because the member for Hunter has said on the white flag he will not support the workers at Liddell. Guess what the member for Hunter says in his own electorate? Guess what the member for Hunter wrote in the Newcastle Herald earlier this year? Listen carefully. This is what the member for Hunter said:

The coal industry remains strong and it can continue to count on my energetic support. So too can those who keep our coal-fired electricity generators humming, our lights on, fridges cold and our manufacturing plants and other businesses running.

So, Member for Hunter, which one is it? Is it your energetic support to keep coal-fired power plants humming, or is it supporting your Leader of the Opposition and motions in the Senate to close down our coal-fired power stations? You can't have it both ways. You're being dishonest with the Australian people. You're telling your electorate and the workers one thing, and in this House you are supporting another. This goes to the heart of the Leader of the Opposition's lack of understanding about what comprises the energy market and how important thermal synchronous baseload dispatchable power is to the system.

Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Hunter is now warned.

Mr FRYDENBERG: Only the coalition can deliver lower energy prices and a more stable system. The Labor Party, with its record of doubling electricity prices and its sellout of blue collar workers across the country, has joined the Greens in a policy for a less stable energy system.