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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8388


Mr MORTON (Tangney) (14:43): My question is to the Minister for Energy. Will the minister update the House on how the government is focused on driving power prices down and producing results, particularly for small businesses, families and older Australians? How would alternative approaches hurt Australian families by putting ideology over price?

Mr TAYLOR (HumeMinister for Energy) (14:43): I thank the member for Tangney for his question and I recognise his keen interest in this all-important subject and issue for those on this side of the parliament, because we want to see lower prices for electricity for households, for small businesses and for large businesses across our electorates. We see the impact of higher electricity prices for households, for small businesses and for large businesses, like aluminium smelters and cement manufacturers. But, as the minister for bringing electricity prices down, I can assure you and I can assure this House that this government's priority, my priority and the Prime Minister's priority is to get power prices down while we keep the lights on.

I do need to pay tribute to the good work of my predecessor, the Treasurer. Under his leadership we have seen power prices coming down. Across South East Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia, on 1 July this year, we saw price reductions across the board. For instance, in South East Queensland, Powershop reduced its prices for households by 8.6 per cent. That's $140 for a typical household. We saw a 14.6 per cent reduction in the charges for small businesses. For a typical small business, that's a $1,400 reduction in costs, something that those opposite will never understand because so few of them have ever worked in a small business.

But there is more to be done, and that's why we're taking practical action to bring down electricity prices. That means stopping the price gouging by energy companies. It means providing customers with a fair price safety net. It means backing investment in fair dinkum reliable generators that keep the lights on to provide more competition and lower prices. We are not afraid to use a big stick on big energy companies if that's what's required. We are not afraid to do it. We know that switching from a standing offer to the cheapest offer can mean savings of up to $800 for a household.

The member asked about alternative approaches. We do have an alternative approach from those opposite, which is a 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target and 45 per cent emissions reduction target. That is going to mean more subsidies and higher prices paid by every energy user and taxpayer in Australia. If you want to see the evidence for this, just look at South Australia—the member for Port Adelaide knows this—which amongst the highest electricity prices in the world with a 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target. For that you would expect service. But no, they are struggling to keep the lights on. We are the party, we are the government for lower electricity prices, in contrast to those opposite.