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Tuesday, 2 April 2019
Page: 14466


Mr TAYLOR (HumeMinister for Energy) (15:22): The MPI mentions 'lower power prices', but I haven't heard a word from the member for Port Adelaide about lower power prices, because he doesn't want to talk about the costings from yesterday's policies. He doesn't want to explain to the Australian people what the impacts will be. We know the impacts though. I'm going to come back to those impacts and I'm going to watch you squirm as I describe the impacts of your policies on the Australian people—on tradies, on families, on hardworking small businesses. But before I do that, I want to talk about lower power prices and keeping the lights on—something that the shadow minister and those opposite don't seem to want to talk about.

We understand that Australians have been struggling with the cost of living. We understand that the governments in South Australia and Victoria, with their reckless targets, have not been able to keep the lights on. With that in mind, we have taken action on lower power prices and keeping the lights on. Our plan for fairer, more affordable and reliable power includes a price safety net to protect customers—a price safety net under the default market offer. We saw, under pressure from the government, the big energy companies reduce their standing offers on 1 January—$200 in New South Wales, $313 in Victoria, $272 in South Australia and $175 in south-east Queensland. But we need them to go further. The most vulnerable customers are the ones who deserve this most because they are paying a loyalty tax to the big energy companies who do the wrong thing. From 1 July, there will be price caps in place for those standing offers, and that will mean savings of up to $174 for customers on flat rate tariffs, $218 for residential customers on controlled load tariffs and almost $1,000 for small businesses. Those opposite wouldn't understand this. None of them have worked in a small business. But we do understand that. A thousand dollars is a big deal. It is a big deal for people who work in small businesses.

On top of that, we are driving new supply into the marketplace, putting $1.4 billion into Snowy 2.0—a battery for Australia with a cost of storage equal to a fiftieth of a Tesla battery. This will make sure we keep the lights on, because what we've seen is the governments in South Australia and Victoria setting insane renewable energy targets without understanding that, when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow, you have to have backup—you have to have storage. And that's why we're building Snowy 2.0.

On top of that, we saw only a couple of weeks ago a report coming from the Victoria Energy Policy Centre about the impact of manipulation of the market by the big energy companies. When the Hazelwood closure was announced, we saw what the major energy players did. AGL in particular doubled its bids into the market for its coal-fired power stations. It doubled them overnight. And the cost to Australian households and businesses was $3.5 billion in the next year.

Legislation to prohibit that behaviour, to make that impossible, to make it illegal, was blocked by those opposite 12 times—12 times! You have to ask yourself: why is it that they stand on the side of the big energy companies? Why is it that they're backing the big energy companies? Might it be that the Queensland Labor government owns the big energy companies and withdrew $1.65 billion from their piggy bank last year to try to make ends meet? Even then they couldn't get to a surplus, because those who sit opposite don't do surpluses; they're not into them. But the Queensland government tried—$1.65 billion—and absolutely failed.

Alongside that, when we arrived in government, we saw that we were 755 million tonnes behind where we needed to be to reach our 2020 Kyoto obligations. We had to find an abatement of 755 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in order to reach our 2020 obligations. That's the deficit those opposite left us with. Alongside the debt and deficits on the fiscal side, they left us a debt and deficit on the emissions side. We've turned that around, in recent years, from a 755-million-tonne deficit to a 367-million-tonne surplus—1.1 billion tonnes of turnaround on the emissions between 2010 and 2020.

We will smash the 2020 Kyoto obligations. We will absolutely smash them, on the latest numbers from the department, by 367 million tonnes. We announced only a few weeks ago how we'll reach the remaining 328 million tonnes we need to achieve for the time period between 2020 and 2030, and we'll achieve that through the $3½ billion Climate Solutions Fund, including the energy efficiency initiatives worth over 50 million tonnes, and of course the Emissions Reduction Fund, with $2 billion committed, which will deliver 102 million tonnes of abatement.

Those opposite announced yesterday not a plan but a tax. They refused to outline the costs of their tax. They want to send your dollars offshore—carbon credits for Kazakhstan! They want to tell you what sort of car you can drive. They want to tell farmers what they can do with their land. And they want to bring back the Rudd-Gillard carbon tax. We stand for Snowy 2.0; those opposite stand for carbon tax 2.0.

Independent modelling by BAEconomics—an adviser to the Hawke-Keating governments and a contributor to three IPCC reports—shows that Labor's 45 per cent emissions reduction target will cost the economy $472 billion, will slash more than 336,000 jobs, particularly in the member for Shortland's electorate—that's where they'll go fastest—will cut the average wage of a worker by $9,000 and will increase wholesale electricity prices by more than 58 per cent. That's alongside increases in the price of cars, fuel, food and everything else that uses energy. The sad reality is that, when you want to whack a tax on energy, everything that has energy in it costs more. That is the reality: everything that has energy in it costs more.

The 2016 Centre for International Economics report, which looked at Labor's policies on the vehicle side, concluded that an average vehicle would increase in cost by up to $5,000. They're not explaining that to the Australian people, nor are they explaining what this means for the average Australian's car. A Toyota HiLux, the most popular vehicle in Australia—certainly in my electorate it is very popular, and I'm sure it's popular in the electorates of a number of people behind me—emits 200 to 240 grams per kilometre. What are we going to do? Are the tradies going to be driving Priuses? What's going to happen to the SUV? You would think that if you bought an electric vehicle you might get by, but it turns out—we did a bit of work on this earlier today—that a Tesla emits 178 grams per kilometre. So even a Tesla doesn't get there. So extraordinary is the shadow minister's policy that, when asked whether he was going to buy an electric car, he decided he wasn't going to answer the question. Well, he's quite right, because it's not going to reduce emissions. At 180 grams per kilometre, it's actually not going to help, but at least he understands that. He may, in the coming days before the election, fess up to the costs of your carbon tax, fess up to the costs of your policies and fess up to the impacts on the average Australian of your disastrous and absolutely inappropriate targets—the impacts they'll have on all of us.