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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 737


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:59): My question is to the Prime Minister. Today we have learnt, through freedom of information, that the Commonwealth government was directly advised about the blackout in South Australia last year, and I quote:

AEMO’s advice is that the generation mix (ie renew-able or fossil fuel) was not to blame …

Why, then, on the exact same day of receiving this advice, did the Prime Minister and his energy minister blame renewable energy for the blackout?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (15:00): The inability of the Leader of the Opposition to do anything other than misrepresent is extraordinary. He has no capacity for correlating his remarks here with the facts on any occasion. He says whatever he thinks will suit him. The truth is, as we know and as AEMO said in their report, the change to having such a large amount of variable renewable power—wind turbines in the main—meant that the grid in South Australia had, and I quote, 'a lower resilience to extreme events'. Certainly nobody is suggesting that there was a solar panel that caused the storm or that the extreme wind event was caused by an errant wind turbine going at excessive speed. We all know that. But the reality is that the South Australian Labor government introduced a massive amount of renewables into their grid and did not plan for the consequences. That is the fact; that is what AEMO says.

It is perfectly obvious that what was done was mindless, negligent and incompetent. They made South Australia more and more reliant on Victoria and the interconnectors with Victoria. They allowed to have closed down coal-fired power at Port Augusta and they had gas-fired power stations that were not operating. The reality is that they put all of their bet on renewable energy and failed to recognise that it has certain consequences. There is nothing wrong with wind farms and there is nothing wrong with solar panels. They are great; they play an important role. But they do not work all the time, and you have to plan for it. That is why you need storage, why you need backup and why you need better transition networks. You need to put in place those measures.

The absurdity of the Labor Party's position, their delusion, is that, in the midst of all of the hardship they inflicted on families and businesses in South Australia, the member for Port Adelaide stands up and describes it as a hiccup—just a little hiccup that your business has shut down and you have to lay off your workers; just a little hiccup that you cannot turn the air conditioner on on a 40-degree day; just a little hiccup that all of your fishing catch is going off because you cannot run your refrigerators. Talk about out of touch! The Labor Party are lost on this issue. This is a test of competence and they have failed.