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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8526


Mr WATTS (Gellibrand) (18:19): They say that timing is the essence of all great comedy. Well, the member for Hughes has truly outdone himself with the motion before the House today. Despite the National Energy Guarantee being used as a stalking horse to destroy Malcolm Turnbull's leadership during the last parliamentary sitting week, and despite the current Prime Minister declaring the National Energy Guarantee to be 'dead' just this weekend, the motion before the House sings the praises of the NEG, including the extraordinary claim that the NEG 'provides certainty for investors in new and existing power plants'. Monty Python's dead parrot sketch was less absurd.

Australia's energy crisis, a situation where we see the extraordinary trifecta of rising carbon emissions, rising prices and falling reliability, is entirely the creation of the dysfunction in conservative politics in this country. Labor has attempted to be a responsible partner in solving this crisis in the national interest. At every step of the way we've been willing to work with the government to find a genuine solution to the energy crisis. We were willing to work with the government on the emissions intensity scheme. We were willing to work with the government on Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel's clean energy target. We were willing to work with the government on the National Energy Guarantee. But at every step of the way a coherent national energy policy has been made impossible by a Liberal Party lacking leadership and unity, and consumed by personal hatreds and ideological obsessions.

Now we hear that the Morrison government will abandon any pretence and any attempt to reduce emissions in the energy sector at all and will focus exclusively on price. Putting to one side the moral cowardice and policy incoherence of this position, what are we supposed to make of this claim in light of the government's previous statements on the NEG? If you believe what the current PM and his deputy said in their previous roles, the NEG was all about reducing consumer prices. Indeed, they constantly cited modelling claiming that the NEG would reduce consumers' power bills by $150 a year. Yet, in their new roles, the PM and his Treasurer are abandoning the NEG and these lower prices in the name of lower prices! I guess that $150 of consumer savings goes the same way as the $500 of savings we were promised by the Abbott government for ripping up Australia's previous energy policy or the member for New England's $100 roast lamb. It's all just a nonsense.

In 2009, after being ousted as the leader of the Liberal Party, Malcolm Turnbull despaired:

… on this vital issue of climate change we—

the Liberal Party—

are not simply without a policy, without any prospect of having a credible policy but we are now without integrity. We have given our opponents the irrefutable, undeniable evidence that we cannot be trusted.

He was right nine years ago and he is right today. Ousted again from the leadership of the Liberal Party over climate change and energy policy, Malcolm Turnbull in his farewell speech as Prime Minister said:

In terms of energy policy and climate policy, I think the truth is that the coalition finds it very hard to get agreement on anything to do with emissions.

It's difficult for the Labor Party to be a responsible partner for the coalition when they can't even agree with themselves. The troglodytes in the coalition party room have a veto on energy policy in this country. It makes it difficult for sentient human beings in this parliament to engage with them—no ideas, no policies, no hope.

Labor has real policies with real outcomes for all Australians. The core of our plan is our 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030. This target will drive up investment in renewable energy, including in firming technologies like batteries and pumped hydro. Labor's policy will create almost 30,000 new renewable energy jobs, and Labor's policy will exert downward pressure on power prices for households and businesses. Our policy will reduce pollution and deliver real action to tackle climate change. Where Labor is for renewables, innovation and lower prices, it's clear that the coalition is just for coal, the status quo and the higher prices driven by the chaos and dysfunction of conservative politics in Australia.

When the Prime Minister presented each of his ministers with an Australian flag lapel pin, really he should have given each and every coalition MP a lump of coal like the one that he brought into the chamber—a lump of coal to remind the Australian people whose side the coalition is really on: the side of ideology and idiocy, as was so aptly put by the former Prime Minister. They were the parting words of the coalition's former leader as he gave up on his former colleagues and flew the country for a New York holiday.