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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8525


Mr WALLACE (Fisher) (18:14): Do you know what, Deputy Speaker? I think Australians have had an absolute gutful of this debate and the delay that has been the energy debate for successive governments, including Labor.

This is the same Labor who want to introduce a 50 per cent renewable energy target. If we want an example of how not to do things: when I was an apprentice carpenter, I made a mistake once and I got a kick up the backside from my trade school instructor. Then I made the same mistake twice, and the foot was even harder the second time. If you want to look at stupidity and why we shouldn't be doing things, look to the South Australian model. Just like success leaves clues, so does stupidity. Why would you do something like South Australia? Why would you try to replicate what they have done there when it has been nothing other than an abject failure? But that is exactly the path that Bill Shorten, if he ever became Prime Minister, wants to lead us down. It would be an absolute travesty.

On this side of the chamber, we are focused, firmly and squarely, on getting the cost of energy down. I congratulate the Prime Minister on his appointment of Angus Taylor as the Minister for Energy—as he called him, 'The minister for getting energy prices down.' Before Angus came on board, we were doing a reasonable job at getting energy prices down. I know that those opposite want to keep talking about how prices have gone up, but let me tell another little story. I was having a chat with my wife the other night about an investment property—a commercial property—that we have. Since we changed from AGL to Alinta Energy we have saved nearly $300 a quarter in energy bills. That's not just from the previous month, that's from the previous year. So we're comparing apples with apples for the cost of air conditioning, the climate and the weather, and we are saving nearly $300 a quarter.

I say to the good people who may be listening out there: if you are with AGL or another current energy provider then shop around, because chances are that you can save yourself hundreds of dollars by shopping around. I know it's a pain in the backside to do it—I know it's difficult and that we're all busy—but it's worth it. It's in everybody's interest to shop around, because you can get some terrific deals out there. If I had known just how good a deal I could have got I would have shopped around a lot earlier.

Getting back to the great job that I know Angus Taylor—the Minister for Energy—will do: for almost three decades, he was a guy who followed the national energy agenda very astutely. As a consultant in the agriculture, infrastructure and resources sectors, the minister has seen the critical importance of affordable energy to our nation's prosperity. At a local level he founded or advised many small start-up businesses in the agriculture sector, so he understands the importance of energy costs and reliability to business of all sizes.

As a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, the minister researched the competition policy which will be so vital to getting the energy market working in Australia. He did a fantastic job as the Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation and he excelled in the role of Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity just as he will excel in this role. He takes over from a minister, now the Treasurer, who had already made important progress in facing up to this difficult challenge.

We have already turned a corner on power prices, with reductions announced in Queensland, New South Wales and, believe it or not, South Australia from 1 July 2018. Through the minister's and the former Prime Minister's tough actions, we secured more gas for Australians. This has driven down the cost of wholesale gas by as much as up to 50 per cent. Some of us know that the price of electricity is linked to the wholesale price of gas, so we should start to see significant reductions in our electricity costs. And, if we don't, we need to start whacking the retailers because the retailers are gouging the market. I encourage everybody to shop around as much as they can.