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Monday, 23 October 2017
Page: 11526

Energy


Mr BUTLER (Port Adelaide) (14:40): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister's latest energy policy. On 1 July, electricity prices for the average EnergyAustralia household in New South Wales increased by nearly 20 per cent. So does the Prime Minister seriously expect people in New South Wales to thank him for a lousy 50c-a-week saving they might get in three years time?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:40): Well, people in New South Wales will certainly not thank the honourable member opposite for his efforts to impose on them the South Australian solution, which of course is to have the most expensive and the least reliable electricity in the country. The reality is that the Labor Party's failures in energy have created the problems we face today. The honourable member opposite, who asked the question, first said to Barrie Cassidy that Labor had no idea that allowing the export of gas from the east coast could result in higher prices and tight supply. He said, 'No warnings'—it came as a bolt out of the blue, apparently. But then, when it became obvious that this ridiculous position could not be sustained—because not only had the warnings come from the Public Service, from the Department of Energy, but they'd come from the Energy Market Operator—he had to then turn around and make a belated confession.

The rise in the price of gas was entirely a consequence of the Labor Party's failure to apply any level of business competence to the management of national energy policy. Despite warnings to the contrary, they allowed gas to be exported from the east coast without any effort to protect the domestic market.

Now we have addressed that challenge. Gas is now flowing. Today, when I was with Senator Seselja and the minister for energy at Viridian Glass today, we heard Rob Sindel, the chief executive of CSR, noting the benefits that are flowing from our action on gas, and noting that wholesale spot prices have been coming down since our actions. That is an example of delivery of real action to deliver a drop in gas prices that of course is going to be important to ensure the viability of so many businesses.

The honourable member makes up figures—what was it? Fifty cents a week or something? He can make up all the figures he likes. The reality is this: he knows that we have a policy recommended by the Energy Security Board—independent; expert—which says that they expect there to be a 20-to-25-per-cent reduction in wholesale costs over the period, and that would be reflected, they estimate, in a $110-to-$115-a-year reduction in electricity bills for retail customers. (Time expired)