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Thursday, 19 October 2017
Page: 8080


Senator MOORE (Queensland) (15:03): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister representing the Prime Minister (Senator Brandis) to questions without notice asked by Senator Collins and Senator Polley today relating to energy.

I remember so clearly standing exactly here a few months ago when we had a range of questions about the Finkel review, and that there was great exhortation across the chamber that we needed to work together—that we needed to work together on an effective policy—and there was the praise given to the recommendations of the Finkel review. Ministers of the government, doing the same kind of marketing that they're doing now for this next plan that they're proposing, were saying how strong Finkel and the recommendations around renewable energy were. They were saying they were going to work together on prices. Here we have another process now.

We should've known we'd be having this discussion this week, because last week The Australian actually told us what the government was going to do. The Australian and, in fact, my own local newspaper, the Courier-Mail had as much detail as we have now. We heard what the government was going to do. Headlines said they were no longer going to be looking at supporting renewable energy. In fact, they were saying they'd moved away from many of the recommendations of the Finkel review.

We had the warning that the government was going to be doing this. For most policy now, if we can just get hold of a Murdoch press a couple of days earlier, we'll have what's going to be done by the government. We had that warning, and then we had to go through the process because it had to go to the cabinet and it had to go to the party room. Then Senator Brandis, in his answers this week, told us about what happened in the party room and about how excited they were in the party room about this new policy. But then the document was released. We now have the eight pages which are, in fact, all we have to look at on what is going to be this Holy Grail of energy policy into the future. What we don't have is any detail. We don't have modelling—in fact, we very rarely have modelling, but we live in hope that this time we will get some modelling that gives detail to the would-be guarantees that the government has given to the community about this new policy.

In his normal, gracious way, today the leader of the Senate talked about the need for us to work together. In his normal, gracious way he talked about U-turns from the Labor Party and backsliding from the Labor Party and desperation from the Labor Party. This is, as usual, the way the government actually wants to seek to work together. Clearly, we have looked at the eight pages in detail, we have studied the Courier-Mail to see exactly what the government was going to do, and now we are asking quite direct and quite simple questions like, 'How is the policy expected to work?'

It's good to have goals. In fact, we often have goals and we can actually share those goals, because we do want the community to have an effective energy policy. We listen to the community, and we know it's an issue of importance to them. We've heard that the government is offering guarantees, and we've also heard that they're working very, very hard to fix the energy issues in Australia. We acknowledge that. We'd just like to know how it's going to work so that we will have information that our people can look at so we can make an informed decision about engaging in future energy policy. It's not enough just to say, 'You should get onboard, because this is what we want to do,' but that's exactly what the Treasurer has been saying in his marketing campaign to make sure that this eight-page document becomes the future energy policy for our country. He's saying he wants to make it so secure that the awful prospect of a change of government would not be able to wind back what they are now putting into place.

We aren't talking about U-turns. We aren't talking about backsliding. What we're talking about is getting some information, some facts, some details and some modelling about how we can turn an eight-page concept paper into an effective energy policy about which the whole of the community can feel secure and with which we can look at ways that we can work together. To just say what you're working hard on is not a policy. (Time expired)