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Tuesday, 12 September 2017
Page: 10046


Mr CONROY (Shortland) (14:36): My question is to the Prime Minister. The government is now in its fifth year in office. In that time, the government has lost the equivalent of power supply for nearly six million households, with seven coal-fired power stations closing, including the Wallerawang Power Station in New South Wales, which had up to 1,000 megawatts of capacity. Why is the Prime Minister incapable of making a decision on energy? Why is the Prime Minister letting the chaos and division of this government stand in the way of solving the energy crisis?

Mr Falinski interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Mackellar will cease interjecting.

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:36): Well, it's good to hear from the member for Shortland again, on the subject of coal-fired power stations—

Dr Mike Kelly interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will just pause for a second. I couldn't have been more clear with the member for Eden-Monaro. He will leave under 94(a).

The member for Eden-Monaro then left the chamber.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will continue.

Mr TURNBULL: Yes, the member for Shortland is running a very tight race with the member for Hunter to see who is the best collaborator with and apologist for Andy Vesey and AGL. In responding to the proposition that Liddell might be sold to somebody who would keep it running—a possibility that the CEO of AGL agreed to, and said that yes, he would be prepared to sell it to a responsible party; he said that in a room full of many people, including quite a few cabinet ministers, so there's no question he said that—in trying to discount that, the member for Shortland, in his role as a PR flack for AGL, said:

We need to think about the logistics; Bayswater and Liddell power stations are right next to each other. They share the same coal mine—

Mr Conroy interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Shortland has asked his question. The member for Shortland will cease interjecting.

Mr TURNBULL: He said:

They share infrastructure, they share the same water resource—is it practical that we have two different companies running those power plants?

Well, of course, if you want to make sure there's less competition, you certainly wouldn't want them being run by two different companies.

It is extraordinary to see the member for Hunter and the member for Shortland, who represent all of these workers in the power industry and all of these workers in the coalmining industry, becoming these extraordinary apologists for AGL—a company that they know is the prime beneficiary of tight supply of power. The honourable member for Isaacs obviously can't read his own electricity bill, let alone anyone else's.

You know, what we have succeeded in doing is bringing down gas prices. And wholesale electricity prices are starting to come down because gas has come down. So the actions my government is taking are putting downward pressure on prices. What we're looking out for are actions by big generators in shutting down plants which would have the same effect as the closure of Hazelwood did. So this is no more than prudent government, looking after the interests of Australians, as opposed to looking after the shareholders of big energy companies.