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Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Page: 10243


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:02): My question is to the Prime Minister. On Monday, the Prime Minister was asked if power prices were higher or lower since this government came to office and refused to answer. On Tuesday, the Prime Minister was asked about the average Sydney household paying $1,000 more since this government came to power and refused to answer. So Prime Minister, just answer: how much have power bills increased since the Liberals came to office?

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House and the Minister for the Environment and Energy will cease interjecting.

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:02): I'm glad to get a question on energy prices from the Leader of the Opposition. One thing we do know is that they doubled under the previous Labor government. One thing we do know is that they have increased substantially in very recent times because of the increase in the price of gas, and we know that that was because of a shortage in gas on the east coast because of a policy failure by the Labor Party, to which the member for Port Adelaide has, albeit belatedly, confessed.

Government members interjecting

Mr TURNBULL: He has. Absolution will be delayed, however—he shouldn't hold his breath for that. He needs a bit more penance. We also know that there has been an increase in the price of electricity in New South Wales in recent times because of the closure of Hazelwood and because that created a large gap in dispatchable energy across the electricity market. That resulted in an increase in excess of $50 a megawatt hour in New South Wales alone.

What we're doing is ensuring that everything we can do brings those prices down. This is what we've done. Firstly, we've gone to the retailers and said, 'You've got to get in touch with your customers and tell them if they're on the wrong plan,' and, do you know, thousands of people are now—

Mr Burke: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order, on direct relevance. The question is: how much have they gone up?

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. As he knows from my previous rulings—

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the House will cease interjecting. As the Manager of Opposition Business knows from my previous rulings, I give even extra latitude when the preamble is about 90 per cent of the question. The Prime Minister is in order.

Mr TURNBULL: Thank you, Mr Speaker. We have taken steps to ensure that those people get a discount and we know that many have, indeed many journalists have. They have written about it with pleasure and approval in their columns recently—hundreds of dollars. There is no compassion for the Press Gallery on that side of the House, no compassion for their household bills and no compassion for the blackout bills they will have to pay for if they don't get action on energy prices. We are bringing down gas prices already.

In terms of dispatchable energy, we are taking practical steps with AGL on Liddell. One obvious option to avoid it creating a big gap is to keep that power station running for longer, so we are exploring that with the company. In the longer term, we are building the biggest renewable power system in the country's history since Snowy 1. Snowy Hydro 2.0, which will make renewables reliable, is derided by the Labor Party as a stunt. They have no policies and no plan. The only thing that we know Australians will have to pay for is the blackout bill.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Kingston, who has already been ejected this week for persistent interjecting, is warned, as is the member for Barker.