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Thursday, 19 October 2017
Page: 8085


Senator CAROL BROWN (Tasmania) (15:24): I also rise to take note of answers from Senator Brandis on the government's National Energy Guarantee.

What a display we saw today! The question from Senator Collins couldn't have been a simpler question to Senator Brandis. I just want to go to what the question was, because it was a very good one from Senator Collins. What she asked was:

Given electricity retailers will trade to meet required emissions targets, can the minister confirm the policy effectively imposes a price on carbon?

Of course, Senator Brandis used a quote from one individual—Mr John Pierce, the Chair of the AEMC—to try to put together an answer. This was cherry-picking of the highest order as only Senator Brandis can. But when faced with alternative opinions from Mr Matthew Warren, Chief Executive of the Australian Energy Council, and Mr Hugh Grossman, Executive Director of RepuTex, Senator Brandis went to water. All he could do was attack the Labor Party; all he could do was make the most ludicrous accusations and feign ignorance of the comments from Mr Warren and Mr Grossman.

Of course, we on this side are very used to that, as Senator Brandis often says he's unaware of comments made when they don't suit his policy positions. As always with Senator Brandis, there was so much bravado and so little basis to his arguments. It was a sad display! Senator Brandis kept trying to make the claim that the Labor Party doesn't have an energy policy. Senator Brandis had the gall to come into this place and claim that the party that has led the debate on energy for over a decade doesn't have a policy. Senator Brandis couldn't be further from the truth.

For almost 10 years, the opposition has led this debate. Senator Brandis, Mr Turnbull, Mr Abbott and others in the government have been running around fighting one another, fighting with the science and fighting with the economics as they search for a way to reintroduce a price on carbon in Australia. While they might all be in agreement up here in Canberra that this new policy—this eight-page concept—is a winner, I want to refer the Senate to comments from the Tasmanian Liberal government's newly-minted energy minister, Mr Guy Barnett. Some of us here in the Senate would be familiar with Mr Barnett; he graced this chamber some years ago.

Obviously, Mr Barnett is now a member of the Tasmanian parliament, and he is their new Minister for Energy. Mr Barnett made an interesting start, to say the least. Yesterday, Mr Barnett issued a statement where he stated unequivocally:

We aren't yet convinced by what we have heard and we need further detail on the Federal Government's plan.

I have to say, he was probably being very generous to suggest it was actually a 'plan'! But he said, 'we need further detail on the federal government's plan.' This is one of the two state Liberal energy ministers in the country who says he is not convinced and that his government is not convinced. Mr Barnett set three criteria the federal government needs to satisfy before receiving the government's support:

Any federal energy policy needs to meet those aims for Tasmania before receiving our support.

And what are those aims?

That means lower prices, energy security and developing more renewable energy generation in Tasmania.

And what does the National Energy Guarantee do for Tasmania? Lower prices? Well, supposedly. Maybe. No guarantees, because no modelling has been done. The NEG will supposedly save households $115 a year from 2020. There are still no guarantees.

Tasmanians remember the false promise from Senator Brandis, from Mr Abbott and those three amigos, who said that households would save $550 a year from the abolition of the Clean Energy Future Package. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.