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Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Page: 7887


Senator ABETZ (Tasmania) (15:09): The previous speaker was nearly right when he blamed weather events for South Australia's power debacle. What he should have said was that it was a Weatherill event, because Premier Weatherill is responsible for what occurred in South Australia. Make no mistake. On one day, with renewable energy, South Australia got 91 per cent of its energy needs; two or three days later, only three per cent.

That is why this government has identified the need for a reliable energy supply. And that is why we have called our policy the National Energy Guarantee. What we need is reliability of supply along with affordability.

The extreme green experiment by the Australian Labor Party in South Australia has failed, and failed dismally. It has cost thousands of people in South Australia, their households and their businesses.

Senator Chisholm: Households! What are you talking about?

Senator ABETZ: It has been a disaster because when the power goes off, Senator, freezers go off and the food in the freezer goes off, and they've got to rebuy food. These are the basics that every single Australian household knows about, but Labor senators opposite are completely oblivious to these day-to-day needs and requirements. That was a very helpful interjection because it shows how disconnected the Labor Party of today is from the needs of the Australian people.

We as a government have said and said very clearly that affordability is No. 1; reliability is No. 2. And this is what this policy delivers. It was interesting that Senator Gallagher, as he is from South Australia—it is bizarre that he would lead the charge, given the track record of Labor in South Australia, but that aside—led the charge trying to quibble about the savings that Australians would get from our policy. Interesting. But he did not deny that there would be savings. All he was quibbling about was the extent of the savings. In doing so, what did he studiously avoid? He studiously avoided the cost of Labor's policy, a 50 per cent renewable energy target, which, in anybody's language, would drive up energy prices and cost jobs. There is no doubt. So the Labor Party, in seeking to quibble about whether it will be $115 or $100 per annum saved, acknowledge that there will be savings under the coalition policy. What they won't tell you is the huge cost increase under their policy.

We know that the Labor Party are addicted to the carbon tax schemes of high taxes, high subsidies and high prices, and then, if people have to pay too much, you tax other people more to give subsidies to pensioners, and so the list goes on. We have a deliberately focused policy, not about a money-go-round, not about idiotic ideology of pursuing renewable energy at all costs. We are having a balanced policy, which the Labor Party now acknowledge and admit will reduce energy prices. All they're arguing about is the extent of it. So I welcome that concession from the Australian Labor Party. But what they do need to tell the Australian people is what the extra cost of their policy will be. They know there will be an extra cost, because they continually talk about the need for increased targets—in other words, read increased subsidies, increased costs paid for by the taxpayer and paid for by the consumer.

This is the great juxtaposition that the Australian people now have in the debate over energy policy in this country. They have a government committed to affordability and reliability, something which the Australian Labor Party now acknowledges will drive down energy prices in comparison to a Labor government that would say, 'We have tried and failed in South Australia and, with that knowledge, we would seek to implement that on a national scale.' It is not good enough for the Australian people.