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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 941


Ms BANKS (Chisholm) (15:01): My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Energy. Will the minister update the House on the government's actions to reduce emissions and lower electricity bills for hardworking Australians without compromising their energy security? What hurdles stand in the way to achieving this security for hardworking Australian families?

Ms Burney interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Barton is warned.

Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongMinister for the Environment and Energy) (15:02): I thank the member for Chisholm for her question and acknowledge her deep concern for the rising electricity bills for more than 10,000 small businesses in her electorate and some constituents who will be paying up to $135 more for electricity next year as a result of the announced closure of Hazelwood.

We on this side of the House recognise that energy efficiency is one way to drive down electricity prices. In fact, we have a National Energy Productivity Plan to get a 40 per cent boost by 2030. If you can reduce pressure on the grid you can create more stability, if you can reduce consumption you can lower costs and, if you can reduce consumption, you can also lower emissions. One of the ways we are doing that is through new standards for buildings. I announced the Commercial Building Disclosures Program, which could lead to a $50 million energy saving. We have also got new standards around appliances. For example, a state-of-the-art air conditioner sold in Australia in 2003 would not meet the minimum conditions and standards that we apply today. We have new lighting standards as well, which could save a household up to $2,400 over the next 10 years.

I am asked if I am aware of any alternatives. We know that the Labor Party have 'put the cart before the horse' in order to protect their 'left flank'. They are not my words. They are the words of a former Labor environment minister, Graham Richardson, when he talked about their energy policy. The member for Port Adelaide insultingly described 1.7 million people going into the dark in South Australia as a hiccup. I suppose he describes the people in South Australia paying more than 40 per cent more for their electricity than the national electricity market average as a mere headache. I can tell you that this issue and Labor's policies are creating heartburn in your heartland. You have a 50 per cent renewable energy target. You have an emissions intensity scheme. You want to force the closure of power stations. This is cold comfort for a company like Philmac in the electorate of Hindmarsh. It is an 80-year-old company that exports to 30 countries, employs over 300 people and has seen its electricity prices go up by 200 per cent in the last two years. They have said publicly that this is impacting on jobs and their international competitiveness.

This is a very serious issue—not just the stability in South Australia but also the affordability of the electricity system. You do not have to take my word for it: elders from the Labor Party like Graham Richardson, Keith De Lacy, Gary Johns and a whole range of others have been critical of the Labor Party's policy.