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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 3265


Mrs SUDMALIS (Gilmore) (14:42): My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Energy. Will the minister update the House on the government's actions to create a stronger economy by putting downward pressure on power bills for hardworking Australian families and businesses since the 2017 budget? Is the minister aware of different policy approaches that may interfere with this?

Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongMinister for the Environment and Energy) (14:42): I thank the member for Gilmore for her question. She knows what an incredible energy mess we inherited from those opposite. Power bills went up by more than 100 per cent when they were in office. In Labor's own words, network prices skyrocketed; retail prices soared. We were saddled with a $15-billion carbon tax, and Labor in government ignored the recommendations of the Independent Market Operator when it came to gas. No-one put it better than the member for Port Adelaide himself. In his book, Climate Wars, which you can find at a good remainders bookshop, he said that, when Labor was in office, when it came to climate and energy policy, they made mistakes—they were his words—and they sent mixed messages. He said the people of Australia were determined to see the back of the Labor Party. And this guy is now running for the presidency again!

When we came to office, we started to rein in the power of the networks. We abolished the limited merits review process, which, if Labor had done it previously, would've saved consumers $6½ billion. We ensured more gas could come into the domestic market rather than going for export, which the ACCC has reported has seen a fall by up to 50 per cent in the gas price. We got better deals for thousands of Australian families from their retailers, and we invested in storage, like Snowy 2.0, which will help provide a battery for the east coast of Australia, and the National Energy Guarantee, which for the first time will bring energy and climate policy together and has been warmly received by the big employers around the country as well as the energy retailers themselves.

Now, what is the alternative to this? What is the Labor Party's approach? Well, firstly they're proposing a 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target, a 45 per cent emissions reduction target, which the business community says is 'risky and unnecessary'. And, when you talk about Labor's priorities going all wrong, there's no better example than their national platform. In this national platform they mention the term 'climate change' more than 90 times, but how many times is the term 'power prices' mentioned? Fifty times? Forty times? Thirty times? No. It is mentioned six times. So, 90-plus times for climate change and six times for energy prices. When Labor was last in office, power prices more than doubled. If Labor got another chance, it would happen again. Only the coalition will deliver reliable and affordable power.