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Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Page: 2087


Mr O'DOWD (Flynn) (16:02): During six years of Labor government, electricity prices actually doubled—yes, doubled. Federal and state Labor policies have continued to increase the pressure on prices through job-destroying gas bans and moratoriums, unrealistic renewable energy targets and open hostility to reliable base-load power. The Turnbull government has taken action to fix this mess. The government is focused on keeping the lights on and reducing household electricity bills. The government and the National Energy Guarantee will cut electricity prices by ending subsidies for energy which are passed on to the customers, creating a level playing field that ensures all types of energy are part of the Australian mix and providing certainty for investors. This means more supply and, in turn, lower prices—in other words, supply and demand. This will reduce volatility by ensuring reliable and affordable power when it's needed.

I have a 10-point plan of my own. This was developed in conjunction with industry, both large and small. I have spoken to companies like Boyne Smelter; Queensland Alumina at Gladstone and Yarwun; Orica, a chemical company in Gladstone; Cement Australia in Gladstone; and Rusal, a Russian company, who partners with QAL. I have also spoken to BMA, BHP and a lot of other mines in my area. I have 11 coalmines in my electorate, and the future of those 11 coalmines would hang in the balance if Bill Shorten were to gain power in Australia. Coal will be around for the next hundred years, in their terms and their planning. It will not go away. It will be a future energy source for a long time yet.

But there are also small businesses who are buckling under the power prices—places like Biggenden Meat Works, owned by Peter Gibbs. He's the biggest employer in the town of Biggenden. It's a small town, but he employs 52 people. His electricity bills are going up $500 each and every month. Half of his electricity bill is made up of what he uses and the other half is the renewable energy or the network charges. Mind you, he had to bulldoze his own powerlines in and put in his own poles to get power to his plant. For that honour, he gets charged between $8,000 and $9,000 each and every month. He also pays $280,000 a year in payroll tax. He said to me, 'What are you trying to do to my business? The day I stop making a dollar is the day I depart the scene'—and there goes the 52 jobs with the biggest employer in Biggenden because of these power bills.

My 10-point plan is comprehensive and it centres around HELE—high efficiency, low emission—power plants. These HELE plants are new to Australia but they are not new to the rest of the world. We export millions of tonnes of coal to other countries, such as Korea, Japan, China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam, and they are fully engrossed in the HELE plants. This ensures base-load power at the cheapest price. Our aluminium smelter on Boyne Island pays the dearest price in the world for electricity—and that just ain't good enough, when we have all these natural resources at our fingertips. We have coal, we have gas, we have uranium and, of course, we have sun, water and wind. Why should Boyne smelter, which employs over 1,000 people, be paying— (Time expired)