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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 538

Energy Security

Ms FLINT (Boothby) (14:36): My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Energy. Will the minister update the House on the importance of energy security and affordability to Australia, and particularly to the people of my home state of South Australia in the light of yesterday's blackout? Is the minister aware of what obstacles stand in the way of delivering reliable and affordable energy to hardworking Australian businesses and families?

Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongMinister for the Environment and Energy) (14:37): I thank the member for Boothby for her question and acknowledge her deep commitment to energy security and affordability for her constituents and her state. As I said, yesterday at 6.33 pm 40,000 customers—households and businesses—lost power. They lost it for a total of 27 minutes and the spot price went from around $100 a megawatt hour to $14,000 a megawatt hour. This followed a state-wide blackout last September and other outages in December, in January and now in February. It reminds us that Jay Weatherill's big experiment has failed—the take-up of intermittent sources of power of more than 40 per cent. We on this side of the House know that we need to keep more baseload power in the system—cleaner coal, gas and—as the Prime Minister has talked about—storage, including pumped hydro. I wish I could say that was a view shared by those opposite, but it is not. Jay Weatherill held a press conference this morning, the Premier of South Australia, and this is what he said as to why the blackout occurred last night: 'If they had a carbon price, they could have avoided the blackout last night.'

The Premier of South Australia thinks more tax means more wind. The Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy, Tom Koutsantonis, said wind had nothing to do with it, even though wind only got down to providing 2½ per cent of supply. Now we have the member for Port Adelaide trying to blame the operator. Next, he will be telling us that the operator killed Kennedy! Next, he will be telling us that the operator sunk the Titanic! Next, he will be telling us that the operator powered the submarine that took Harold Holt! It was not the operator's fault; it was Jay Weatherill's fault. Now, the Leader of the Opposition wants to take this horror show national with a 50 per cent renewable energy target. You want to sell out the jobs of the 3,000 people working at Olympic Dam, the 1,600 people working at Whyalla with Arrium and the 750 people working with Nyrstar at Port Pirie. That is what you want to do.

I would say to the Leader of the Opposition: do not ever sacrifice the jobs of blue-collar, hardworking Australians on the altar of your ideology, your green ideology. You say you are not a rampant greenie, but you are, Mr Speaker. You are selling out the blue-collar workers.

The SPEAKER: I just say to the minister: I am not any of those things.

Mr FRYDENBERG: After these recent events, what will it take for the Leader of the Opposition to see sense? Please tell me, Leader of the Opposition, that the lights will not have to go out at Raheen!