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Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Page: 7152

Energy


Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:51): My question is to the Minister representing the Deputy Prime Minister, Senator Nash. Today Deputy Prime Minister Joyce claimed that Delta Electricity had 'put an expression of interest out today in the purchase of Liddell'. Delta Company Secretary Steve Gurney has said that the company has not lodged an expression of interest and said: 'Liddell is not for sale—it is not on the market.' Who is right?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories and Minister for Regional Communications) (14:51): I'm not aware of those specific comments, but I can certainly advise the Senate that there have been very constructive discussions between the government and the owners of Liddell about ensuring the future provision of energy in this country. It is of no surprise to those on this side of the chamber that it is the coalition government that is working tirelessly to ensure that we provide affordable and reliable energy for Australians right across the country. Those on the other side simply will not focus on that issue. We on this side of the chamber, the coalition, recognise that, when it comes to the provision of reliable and affordable energy, it is an all-of-the-above policy. That includes coal and all of the other options.

The PRESIDENT: Senator O'Neill, point of order?

Senator O'Neill: Point of order, Mr President. The question was about a particular company, Delta Electricity, about particular comments from the company secretary, Steve Gurney, and about comments from the Deputy Prime Minister. The minister has not answered the question and is straying very far from it.

The PRESIDENT: To the contrary. Your question was: who was correct? The minister said she was not aware of the comments. So the minister has indicated that she can't answer that question from that perspective. Minister.

Senator NASH: Thank you very much, Mr President. It is entirely appropriate that this government consider options for extending the provision of energy from coal into the future as part of that all-of-the-above energy mix. It is those on this side of the chamber, the coalition, not those opposite, who actually care about people across this country being able to access affordable and reliable energy. We will keep making decisions to ensure that that happens. And all credit to the Prime Minister when we look at Snowy Hydro 2.0, looking at long-term provision of energy right across this country to people out in our communities, who need a government to be focused on this, and the coalition certainly is. There have been discussions with the retailers about ensuring that consumers right across this country can have access to energy at the most affordable level. Around two million Australians will be able to benefit from those discussions and what was arrived at in those conversations. It is the coalition that is going to ensure that we deliver reliable and affordable energy.

The PRESIDENT: Senator O'Neill, a supplementary question.







Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:54): Given that the coalition is into its fifth year of government, why is it grasping at hypothetical commercial transactions rather than ending the policy paralysis that's crippling investment in energy generation?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories and Minister for Regional Communications) (14:55): I completely reject that. This government is taking sensible, measured decisions to ensure the provision of affordable and reliable energy—in direct contrast to the Labor Party. You only have to look at South Australia and the Labor government in South Australia and the mess we have seen down there, for people living right across that state, with the lack of ability to provide any kind of reliable energy. It is the coalition that is going to continue to work hard to ensure that we provide for the Australian people the reliable and affordable energy that they deserve.

The PRESIDENT: Senator O'Neill, a final supplementary question.



Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (14:55): While the government is insisting AGL make a decision on the future of Liddell in 90 days, the government has failed to agree a position on the clean energy target after 96 days and counting. Why is the government trying to force AGL to meet a standard it has failed?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories and Minister for Regional Communications) (14:56): Again, I reject that question. We were having very sensible and measured deliberations around the future of the provision of energy in this country, and that includes around, potentially, a CET. But what we're not going to do is take advice from those opposite, who gave this country a carbon tax. Let me tell you, Mr President: they brought in a carbon tax that hit regional Australia harder than anywhere else. And quite possibly they want to bring it back. We will take sensible, measured decisions in the best interests of the Australian people, which is something the Labor Party is simply incapable of doing.