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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7737

Energy


Mr HOGAN (PageDeputy Speaker) (14:17): My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Will the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on how putting downward pressure on power bills and implementing tax cuts for hardworking small businesses will help create jobs and confidence in regional Australia, including my electorate of Page, and are there any risks to affordable energy and legislated tax cuts for small businesses helping regional Australia get ahead?


Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaDeputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Leader of The Nationals) (14:17): I'd like to thank the member for Page for his question, because he understands that, in his electorate and in all electorates, cost of living is a big factor. He's working very hard each and every day to make sure that cost-of-living pressures are addressed. It's at the centre of everything that the Liberals and Nationals stand for. That's what we're doing for families—helping with power bills, putting downward pressure on power prices and having a big stick for companies that gouge consumers. We don't want that to happen, the member for Page doesn't want that to happen and we're making sure it does not happen. We're going to force companies to have a default offer to make sure that consumers are getting a good deal.

For businesses, it's reliable energy so that you know when you flick the switch the lights will come on. There won't be hiccups. There won't be blackouts. We'll know that the lights will come on. That's where Snowy Hydro 2.0 is so important. We're building the sort of infrastructure that's going to make sure that, when you flick the switch, the lights will come on and the power will come on for families, households and businesses. For individuals, there are once-in-a-generation income tax cuts, supported by the member for Page and supported by each and every one of the Liberals and Nationals. For families and small businesses, it's the lowest tax rate in 78 years—27½ per cent, working its way down towards 25 per cent. We are making sure that we give those businesses the confidence to know they can invest in themselves and the confidence to know that they can hire that young Australian or, indeed, that older Australian. For farmers, it's also important in this drought. There's $1.8 billion in total assistance from the federal government. Yesterday we announced an immediate deductibility of fodder and grain storage and payments to local government areas in those drought-stricken communities. Plus, on water infrastructure, construction of piping, troughs, weirs and dams is what we're about.

The member for Page has a little business in his electorate called Mid Richmond Plumbers at Coraki. It's a family businesses that started in 1962. It employs 45 staff. It wants to employ more. It also wants to make sure it has confidence, going forward, that it has got the power prices right. We have got the power prices right, and they will take advantage of that.

I am asked about the Labor alternative. Labor had six years to do something. They didn't do much about anything. They certainly didn't do much about income tax cuts. They certainly didn't do much about small and family enterprises. When it comes to power prices, I have yet to hear the Leader of the Opposition come to the dispatch box—or go anywhere, for that matter—and say he agrees with LEAN, the Labor Environmental Action Network, who said, 'High prices are not a market failure; they are proof of the market working well.' So, does the Leader of the Opposition stand for higher power prices or does he not? (Time expired)