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Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Page: 7167


Senator DASTYARI (New South WalesDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (15:46): I rise to take note of answers to questions as outlined earlier. Before I disagree with effectively everything that Senator Reynolds just said, I want to acknowledge the fantastic event that she put together for the launching of the Parliamentary Friends of Australian Books and Writers group last night. It was an excellent event, and she should be congratulated for that initiative. But I digress.

I want to start by talking about the ridiculousness of the answers, and the situation that has now been outlined as it relates to the questions that were asked to Senator Brandis regarding electricity. To come to this chamber and attempt to brag about a cup of tea shows how pathetically weak, how pathetically ridiculous, this government's situation has become as it relates to skyrocketing energy prices. Here are the facts. For those of us living in Sydney, since this government was elected power prices have increased by $1,000. This government did nothing when we saw, down in Victoria, the closure of Hazelwood. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity—it was a completely tragic set of circumstances, but, because of the work we do in the Senate committee process, I had the opportunity—to visit Morwell, talk to some of the workers who were directly affected and to hear from them what had gone on. The government did nothing. The government didn't raise a finger, didn't raise a concern, just washed their hands clean of it.

Now what we're seeing is a power crisis engulfing this country and the government again doing all they do when they end up falling into these desperate and pathetic situations, and that is blame Labor, blame someone else, blame the Greens, blame ideology, blame this, blame that. Here is the reality. There is only one group here who are allowing ideology to drive them, and that is the Liberal-National parties. They're allowing that to happen because of their inability to sort out their own internal ideological mess as it relates to this issue. The only strategy they have available to them is to try to attack others, because they themselves can't even work out where they stand on these issues. I actually give credit to Senator Malcolm Roberts, who at least has been incredibly consistent in his view—a view that I don't agree with. But the government itself is all over the shop. When you talk to people from industry, when you talk to people who actually have to relate to this, they say the biggest problem they have now is a lack of certainty. The biggest problem for businesses making investment decisions is a lack of certainty, and this government has done nothing but feed that level of uncertainty. What we've seen in the past week and a half is an obscenely ridiculous attack on the CEO of AGL. How does that help? How is that going to help? How is that the objective? When we have an Attorney-General representing the Prime Minister who cannot answer basic questions about what's happening with power prices 24 hours after they were initially asked, we have to ask ourselves: How serious is this government when it comes to addressing these concerns? How serious is this government when it comes to addressing these problems? The reality is that it's not serious at all. No, what we have are cups of coffee. What we have are letters being mailed out to people. That is not providing any sense of certainty or any sense of actual change. All we have are these ridiculously small announceables so the government can pretend, can put on some kind of facade, that it's actually doing something about this issue, when the reality is that time and time again it's failed.

Question agreed to.