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Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Page: 7960


Mr CONROY (Shortland) (15:48): I'll give this to the member for Kooyong: he's a trier. He keeps following up. He keeps trying. He's a stayer. Unfortunately, he's also the Groucho Marx of energy ministers, where he's saying, 'This is my energy policy. If you don't like this one, I've got another one! I've got another one ready to go.' He's had five energy policies in two years—five in two years! He's had three in seven days, since Tuesday of last week, when he had his triumph in the party room. We've had NEG Draft 1. Then, on Saturday, we had NEG Draft 2. Then, by Sunday night, we had this other thing that they can't describe and they refuse to give us the legislation for. But just imagine that! He's the minister who's had three policies on energy in seven days. I note his perseverance, but I've got to give him points down for his policy coherence, because it's appalling. It's abject surrender after abject surrender.

How would you be if you were the current Prime Minister, the member for Wentworth, looking up at the ceiling at 4 am on Monday morning? This is a man who had a legacy in 2009, saying, 'I will not lead a party that's not as committed to effective action on climate change as I am.' Then, at 4 am on Monday morning, when the demons of the soul are confronting him, he's looking up at the ceiling saying: 'I will surrender to the member for Warringah. I will surrender. I will enact his policy and completely walk away from any commitment to emissions reduction.' Just think of it! It's rare to see someone's soul ripped out before your eyes, but that's what we saw on Monday in this place with the Prime Minister. It's rare to see it, but unfortunately that's what we saw: a man who destroyed his legacy—his one remaining legacy of being committed to taking action on climate change—just to hold onto power for, at the moment, somewhere between three days and two weeks, depending on whether the member for Dickson moves on Thursday or whether he moves in September. Just think about junking your legacy to sit as Prime Minister for two more weeks.

That's a tragedy, but it'd be a minor tragedy if it didn't impact anyone else. Unfortunately it affects every single person in this nation. It affects every single person in this nation because their abject surrender of energy policy, their abject surrender on any commitment to rational policymaking, is hurting working families. It is hurting pensioners every day. We've seen 5,000 megawatts of power being withdrawn. We've seen 5,000 megawatts of power stations close down in the last six years because they're getting old. They're at the end of their natural life, and they're closing down. But we're seeing very little replacement because of the energy policy uncertainty in this place, because they have had no energy policy for the five years they've been in government.

What's the result of this? What happens after that? We've seen wholesale electricity prices double under their watch. In the last two years alone, we've seen a 30 per cent increase in retail power prices. They talk about the last quarter, but they don't mention the two years before that, where we saw a 30 per cent increase in retail power prices. That affects families and pensioners right now—right now, they're feeling it. I have the honour to represent the town of Windale, which is the poorest town in all of New South Wales. Those are people who struggle every day to put food on the tables for their kids, and they're facing 30 per cent higher power prices because the fossils in the Liberal Party room can't accept a decent policy.

We're now at a ridiculous stage where not only have they surrendered but they won't even give us draft legislation on whatever their policies of the day are. They refused. Yesterday in question time the Prime Minister admitted that every single backbencher over there—the member for Canning, for example—has a right of veto over government policy. Until they get it through their party room with 100 per cent support, we're not allowed to see draft legislation. What an appalling state of affairs we have right now.

This reflects on this government. Energy policy is really the symbol for this government's dysfunction. Five years of infighting. Five years of surrendering any policy principle that gets in the way of holding onto power, just to stop Labor. This is all just to stop Labor, who's got a committed plan to reduce power prices and reduce emissions. This MPI is very important because it symbolises this government's moral bankruptcy. This is a government that will do anything to stay in power, but won't stand up and reduce power prices.