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Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Page: 7961

Ms PRICE (DurackAssistant Minister for the Environment) (15:53): The irony of this debate is almost too much to bear. What an extraordinary claim by the Labor Party and those opposite, who know all too well that the price of power today is the result of their disastrous legacy. They'll shout and they'll argue otherwise. We've heard it all before. But those on the other side know—don't they, Minister for the Environment and Energy?—that they are responsible for this mess. But it's okay, because we're fixing up the mess.

The Labor Party wants to talk about power prices—they talk big about power prices—but let's have a look at what happened when they set about dismantling the energy market. We've heard it all before today, but I think it's worth repeating: (1) last time Labor were in office, electricity prices doubled; (2) prices went up every year they were in office; and (3) they introduced the carbon tax and when we repealed it—that's right, we repealed it—Australians received the largest reduction in power prices on record. That's pretty good. But the Turnbull government has overseen a drop in retail power prices across three states on 1 July and that is good news for all people across those states. Wholesale prices are down 25 per cent compared to this time last year—more good news. And no matter how the Labor Party wants to spin this, we on this side know we are going to deliver and are already delivering lower electricity prices for all Australians.

The Labor Party just simply cannot be trusted to manage the national energy market. Let's look at some real examples. No point them bleating about what we're doing, let's look at what the Labor parties have been doing around the country. Let's look at the gold star winner, South Australia—a Labor government which gave Australia its first state-wide blackout. What a legacy, what an absolute bunch of champions! There were 1.7 million people with no lights on, and half a billion dollars of taxpayer money was what the Labor government cost South Australians. And we know that a Shorten government would take that failed experiment to a national scale.

The Leader of the Opposition already has told us he wants a 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target because he thinks it was such a great outcome in South Australia. And he'll push ahead with this policy, even though we all know it's a recipe for higher prices—we've seen this time and time again. Even in my own home state of Western Australia, the state Labor Party also wanted to take a 50 per cent target to the election last year but they dropped it, like a bag of hot potatoes, thankfully, because their own members rebelled. Well there is some sense after all in WA state Labor.

The member for Collie-Preston, Mick Murray, a frontbencher who represents a coalmining community, threatened to resign if his party were to introduce such a policy. He knew that such a policy would be a disaster. He knew it would destroy jobs. He knew it would drive power bills up and he knew it would punish regional communities. The Labor Party, especially in Western Australia, are having a great crack at destroying regional communities. At least they didn't have it at 50 per cent, so that's good news, and the opposition leader knows that too. We know his energy policy is not edited by the Labor Party; it's edited by the Greens party.

The opposition leader wants an emissions intensity scheme but he's too afraid to have the modelling done. But that's not a problem, because the Climate Change Authority has done the modelling all for him. What that modelling told us was that power bills would increase, on average, by $192 per year for 10 years. There is no way a Labor government will ever bring down the price of electricity. But this government, us sitting on this side, are committed to bringing them down and we've already demonstrated that. We'll set a default price next year and we'll put a process in place to enforce compliance. If those energy companies fail to pass savings to Australians, they'll be penalised. And to use the phrase coined by the Treasurer, 'we've got that big stick'.

Our energy policy will create a more reliable system and introduce a new requirement for more dispatchable power to lower prices and also to avoid those blackouts. We know that if those opposite ever were to grace these couches that they would drive up the price of electricity and they would rob Australians of baseload power to secure preferences for the Greens. We, on this side, are determined to get the price of power down for the mums and dads—my mum, her relations on the East Coast—and we're also determined to support business. And it's only the coalition that can be trusted.