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Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Page: 7889


Senator HUME (Victoria) (15:20): I do believe that the opposition has been left quite flat footed on this issue. The opposition has been left with their mouths gaping open, devoid of any answers, devoid of any ideas. This clearly was not a policy that they were expecting, largely because they have been so wedded to a clean energy target for so long for reasons that range from political necessity—obviously you're sandbagging your inner-city seats from your frenemies the Greens—to a lack of imagination and an inability to listen to consumers, to households, to businesses or to investors about what is important to them.

The National Energy Guarantee delivers affordable energy. It delivers reliable energy. It meets emissions targets and meets our international obligations. It's hardly a half-baked idea. In fact, those opposite have been urging the government for months now to present an answer on the clean energy target. The Finkel review came out in June. We have implemented 49 of the 50 recommendations, including, I might add, establishing the Energy Security Board. The 50th recommendation, which was the clean energy target, has been considered. We have done our due diligence, and the Energy Security Board has come up with a solution that we believe meets all of those requirements and all of those objectives.

Unlike the habitually uninformed Senator Gallacher, I am going to accurately quote an expert in this field. It was the Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, who said of the Energy Security Board:

Consisting of the energy market regulators and an independent Chair and Deputy Chair, it is the country’s most authoritative voice in energy matters.

…      …   …

I am pleased that the Australian Government asked the Energy Security Board to provide advice on this matter.

…      …   …

I know from consultations with the Energy Security Board in the later stages of the development of the new proposals that the process was thorough.

I don't think you can get a more ringing endorsement of this plan, unlike Labor's plan—or lack of plan. Labor has no plan at all for reliable energy. It is a policy one-trick pony. They cannot think beyond the world of subsidies and taxes. They want to impose reckless and irresponsible renewable energy targets that would drive up prices and undermine reliability. They want to take the failed South Australian experiment and they want to take it national. They've given no thought at all to reliable energy needed to keep the lights on when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing. Their plan to give billions of dollars of subsidies to pursue an ideological crusade will only leave families, households and businesses paying more. The cost of this lunacy could be as high as $66 billion.

Most importantly, though, the National Energy Guarantee encourages the right investment in the right places at the right time. Threaten what you will, Senator McAllister, from Labor premiers at COAG; that is entirely inappropriate. This is an opportunity for the flat-footed opposition to take a big leap forward with those flat feet, an opportunity for the crossbench to break free of the uncritical groupthink, and consign the energy wars to the past. We can secure energy supplies, we can keep the lights on, we can bring prices down, we can ease the burden on hip pockets, we can reduce emissions and we can meet our international obligations.