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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8523

Ms O'TOOLE (Herbert) (18:09): Is this motion even relevant? The simple fact is that here we have a motion praising the LNP government's National Energy Guarantee, and now the NEG has been scrapped. Surely this motion is no longer relevant. We have no idea what energy policy the LNP are supporting, because they are creating policies on the run. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was elected because of his climate change and renewable energy stance. Then, due to government in-fighting and a lack of action on energy, a completely watered-down NEG was agreed to by the LNP—but then Prime Minister Turnbull lost his job, it seems, due to the NEG policy. Is anyone else confused about this? I surely am.

Meanwhile, LNP members opposite are changing energy policies as quickly as they are changing leaders, and it is the Australian people who are suffering with high energy prices. Right now, Australia is left without any energy policy. I can't even stand here today and debate the LNP government's energy policy, because there isn't one. The NEG is off the table. But I will stand here and debate this government's continuous attack on a just transition. Whether the LNP like it or not, renewable energy is more affordable, and it certainly provides cheaper electricity prices than a coal-fired power station. This is a fact. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the cost of electricity from a new high-efficiency, low-emission coal-fired power station is $134 per megawatt. This is compared to solar, at less than $80 per megawatt. Coal-fired power stations are so uninvestable that none of the major banks or the finance or energy industry will provide any funding or loans to any new coal-fired power station—yet there are LNP members who still spruik the merit of coal-fired power stations. Renewable energy is real and it does deliver.

Even though there are LNP members who say their party is 100 per cent supportive of coal, once again, the facts are clear: members opposite, including the Prime Minister, do not support coal. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated:

These new HELE plans would produce energy at an estimated two and a half times the cost of our existing coal-fired power stations.

That was the Treasurer's 'Guaranteeing the essentials - a foundation for fairness' address to the Australian Industry Group in Adelaide in July 2017. Again, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said on coal-fired power stations:

…let's not think that there's cheap new coal, there's not.

…   …   …

…new cheap coal is a bit of a myth.

That's his speech at Wombat Hollow Forum, 12 August 2017. Then there is the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator Matt Canavan, who claims to be the biggest coal supporter, but in actual fact is quoted as saying, 'Due to the significant reserves of baseload power in Central Queensland with Callide, Stanwell and Gladstone power stations, constructing another local coal-fired power station wasn't a top priority.' Minister Canavan has eloquently summed up the LNP's views and action on energy—not a top priority. Whilst the member for Hughes and the member for Dawson continually give false hope to the people of Central and Northern Queensland by making grandiose promises that they know will never be delivered—that is, a new coal-fired power station—and whilst the LNP are changing leaders and flip-flopping on their own policies, Australians and businesses are suffering. This lack of policy is felt deeply in regional areas, and there isn't a regional energy policy or strategy nationally, either.

In 2014, Townsville missed out on a multimillion-dollar project that would have created more than 150 jobs, all because the then Abbott government made renewable energy uninvestable by lowering the national Renewable Energy Target. In 2014, Meridian Energy shelved plans to develop a hydropower project in North Queensland. The chief executive, Ben Burge, said:

…the federal government's protracted efforts to reduce the renewable energy target have made long-term capital investments in energy assets in this country nearly impossible.

This was a huge missed opportunity for Townsville, and we cannot allow this to continue to happen.

Where the LNP have failed, Labor will deliver. That is why federal Labor has committed $200 million towards hydro on the Burdekin Falls Dam. Labor is getting on with the job of delivering on policies, with our plan to transition Australia's energy system to 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030. Australians are sick of the LNP government's lack of action on energy. My message to the LNP Morrison government is: you say you are getting on with the job, so let's see some action and get over the words. You have the numbers, so get on with the job and start doing your job. Develop energy policy and govern this great nation.