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Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Page: 7957

Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongMinister for the Environment and Energy) (15:38): The Labor Party's arrogant. The Labor Party is showing hubris. What we saw in question time today was them trying to do a victory lap before the next election! They tried that once before. That was after the 2016 election. You had the member for Maribyrnong, the Leader of the Opposition, doing a victory lap. He was like Harold Abrahams in Chariots of Fire, running around saying, 'I've won, I've won, I've won!' Well, two years later, he's still in opposition! And after the next election he'll still be in opposition! The reason for that is when Labor was last in office it wrecked the country.

Do you remember the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd chaos, Mr Speaker? Do you remember when it came to energy policy? The member for Port Adelaide is a nice bloke who won't give up the presidency of the Labor Party. He said in his own book that the Labor Party sent mixed signals when it came to climate and energy policy, that the Labor Party made mistakes. That's an understatement. Do you know what happened? Do you know what happened when the Labor Party was last in office? Energy prices went up each and every year. They doubled.

I see some of my colleagues in the House, like the member for Fairfax, and I know the member for Bonner, and the member for Brisbane, and the member for Ryan, and the member for Fisher and the member for Forde. Do you know what they all have in common? Their seats are all in that part of Queensland where prices went up under the Labor Party every year.

Where are the member for Rankin and the member for Lilley? They're hiding, because they know that, when Labor was last in office, in 2008, prices went up eight per cent. In 2009, prices went up 15 per cent. In 2010, prices went up 13 per cent. In 2011, prices went up six per cent. In 2012, prices went up 13 per cent. And, in July 2013, prices went up 19 per cent. That's why I say to the member for Fairfax: what about the families and businesses in your electorate? When Labor was last in office, prices went up each and every year. They ignored the warnings about the increase in gas exports and what it would mean for domestic prices. They oversaw the energy system when there was the gold-plating of the networks, which we are now trying to unwind. They had no plans for storage. That was the Labor Party's record.

And let's not mention cash for clunkers, the citizens' assembly, the carbon tax, the CPRS, the ETS—do you remember all of that? Do you remember that great Athenian example of democracy, the citizens' assembly? Do you remember Green Loans and the terrible pink batts scheme? That's what the Australian people remember. They remember the cheques to dead people—yes. They remember GroceryWatch and FuelWatch. They remember all of that. When it comes to energy policy, they remember their bills going up each and every year.

We on this side of the House have tried to fix the energy mess that was left to us. So we abolished the ability for the networks to game the system through the limited merits review process. If the Labor Party had thought about that when they were in office, the Australian public would have saved over $6 billion. We've ensured more gas is now available to Australians before it's exported overseas, and the ACCC has reported prices coming down by up to 50 per cent as a result of that. We've ensured that retailers have given better deals to Australian families—1.8 million Australian families, including many listening to today's proceedings, know that they got a better deal as a result of Prime Minister Turnbull calling in the retailers and demanding a better deal.

When it comes to Snowy 2.0, the member for Eden-Monaro is at the barricades, saying, 'Good on you, Prime Minister!' This is what the member for Eden-Monaro said about the Prime Minister's signature policy: 'It's an exciting project for our country.' I say to him: join the coalition, because you're supporting our policies when you don't have any other ideas opposite. But he's not the only one opposite who supports our policies. What about the member for Paterson? The member for Paterson, the daughter of a coalminer, goes out there and says that we need new coal-fired power stations. That's what she told The Australian.

But I think the Manager of Opposition Business and the opposition whips have a bad sense of humour. Do you know why? Because they've sat the member for Paterson next to the former head of the ACTU, the member for Batman. It's like putting Punch next to Judy. You couldn't get two bigger opposites. The member for Paterson wants a new coal-fired power station, and the member for Batman wants to nationalise the whole energy system. She'd be better off sitting with the Greens. What a bad sense of humour!

As a result of the measures that we introduced, power prices came down in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia on 1 July. Let me tell the members for Fairfax, Ryan, Brisbane, Fisher, Bonner, Forde, Rankin and Lilley what happened to those families and businesses in south-east Queensland from 1 July. They saw prices for residential customers go down by up to 5.4 per cent. They saw prices for small businesses go down by up to 8.5 per cent. That's on the watch of the Turnbull government.

We announced another set of significant energy policies just yesterday, implementing the ACCC's report into the affordability of the electricity system. It was a coalition government that commissioned that report. It took 15 months to put together. They were able to compel nearly 50,000 documents that otherwise would not have seen the light of day. Among a number of recommendations in there that were implemented was a default offer—a default offer which will now see 1.2 million Australians go off the highest standing offers to this cheaper default offer. If you're a family, you can save up to $416. If you're a small business and you're currently on the expensive standing offers and you go to a default offer, then, as a result of this, you could save up to $1,457. That's good news. That's good news for families and businesses around this country.

We're giving the ACCC new powers to be the permanent cop on the beat—to have a big stick—whereas those opposite are the friends of the big energy companies. We are taking them to task. We are holding them to account. We are on the side of the consumers. You are on the side of the big energy companies. And these new powers include fines, and go up to a use of a divestment power. That is a big stick.

And what about recommendation 4? We will support, through debt financing, new generation assets, to deal with a mark of failure identified by the ACCC, where new generators in the market—not the big three; new generators—who don't have definite market power can build new assets to deal with commercial industrial customers. And this dispatchable power is firm power. This could be coal; this could be gas; this could be hydro. This is firm power.

So these are the policies that we're announcing. These are the policies we have introduced. These are the policies that are now working to lower power prices.

But, at the end of the day, what does the Labor Party want? The Labor Party wants to give out more subsidies. The Labor Party wants to put a tax on consumers. The Labor Party has recklessly high targets that have been opposed by its own union movement. Tony Maher, the national president of the CFMEU, in an open letter, said, 'An increased renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030 will increase the cost of electricity for manufacturing and ordinary households.' Ben Davis, the Victorian secretary of the AWU, said: 'The rush away from coal and gas-fired electricity power stations to renewables is a little unseemly in its haste, because we are potentially crucifying hundreds of thousands of manufacturing workers.' This is what the unions are telling the Labor Party about its own policy.

No doubt the unions are not on the same page as LEAN, the environment network that supports the Labor Party, that the member for Watson says has its fingerprints over every piece of environment policy. You know why? Because LEAN thinks that higher prices are not a sign of market failure but of the market working well! That's the Labor Party's equation.

We're on the side of energy consumers. We're on the side of families. We're on the side of businesses.

I'll leave the final word to Graham Richardson, a doyen of the Labor Party, who said of Labor's energy policy: 'They're playing roulette with people's lives, hurting pensioners and the poor more.' The unions and former Labor ministers have belled the cat on Labor's policy. You'll always pay more for your energy under Labor than you would under the coalition.