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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 2914

Energy Security

Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (14:12): My question is to the Minister for Environment and Energy. A number of eminent Australians, including the head of Australia's biggest power company, AGL; a former Governor-General; and a former head of Telstra, have today urged the government to facilitate the phased and controlled closure of coal-fired electricity. Now that Hazelwood, Australia's dirtiest power station, is to be closed, will the government agree to put into law a plan for the orderly retirement of coal-fired power stations so that workers, communities and clean energy investors can plan for the future? Or will you continue to leave our energy system to the chaos of the market, so that decisions about Australia's future energy security and the welfare of places like the Latrobe Valley are left to the boardrooms of Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong?

Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongMinister for the Environment and Energy) (14:12): I thank the member for Melbourne for his question, because it has been 690 days since I have even had a question from the Labor Party. The member for Melbourne mentioned a report. I did receive that report today and I thank Geoff Cousins and Professor Jacobs and that group of eminent Australians. But, I tell you, the hypocrisy of the Greens is amazing. Do you know what they did when 750 people lost their jobs at Hazelwood with the announcement last week? They put out a Facebook post. And what did they say? They said that this is great news. Shame on the Greens for celebrating the misery of the hardworking 750 Victorians who have now lost their jobs at Hazelwood.

We recognise that a lower-emissions future is a good thing. We also recognise that energy security is our No. 1 priority. Rather than being irresponsible, like those opposite, who have joined with the Greens most recently in the Senate to support a motion encouraging the closure of coal-fired power plants, we will do everything to ensure the stability of our system. For the Greens it is all care and no responsibility. They do not care if we see a repeat of the blackout in South Australia. They do not care if there is gridlock on their roads. You do not care if Arrium loses its power or Olympic Dam loses its power or the Port Pirie smelter loses its power and people are put out of work. You do not care, because you only believe in ideology—the Greens only believe in ideology.

What is appalling is that now we have seen a return of Greens-Labor alliance. Those opposite are prepared to trade for blue-collar jobs in the regions for green votes in the city. They are prepared to trade blue-collar jobs in the regions for green votes in the city! We saw that in a motion and that motion was in the Senate on 13 October, which said that the Greens and the Labor Party—

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. The member for Melbourne on a point of order.

Mr Bandt: There are 30 seconds to go—

The SPEAKER: No, on a point of order—

Mr Bandt: He might like to explain his plans for jobs in the valley—

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. The minister has the call.

Mr FRYDENBERG: I have a quote here from their Senate motion. They want 'to support policy mechanisms to encourage the retirement of coal-fired power stations'. Only the coalition cares about energy security. Only the coalition cares about jobs in regional Australia and only the coalition will keep electricity prices affordable for all Australians.