Thursday, 24 November 2016
The cost of living and job security is very important to the Australian people, but too often in the last decade we have seen those opposite and their state counterparts introduce energy policy that needlessly increases living costs and also threatens people's employment. The cost of living is an everyday concern for people, especially the cost of energy. We all pay gas and electricity bills. It is essential for households to have power. So good government should not increase the cost of living for Australians, but under the previous Labor government electricity prices went up by 100 per cent. The back pocket of everyday mums, dads, pensioners, veterans, farmers, workers and business owners all took a massive hit. Why? Because of green tape. During the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd era, the Labor government took 12 different positions on climate change and energy policy: 'cash for clunkers', the carbon tax, the citizens assembly, the ETS—the list goes on. The radical green policy hit power bills with a 100 per cent hike. If you had a mortgage, were building a small business, were paying school fees or living on a pension, your life got tougher.
Since forming government, the coalition has been working hard to fix Labor's mess. We scrapped the carbon tax and delivered Australian families and businesses the biggest drop in electricity prices on record. This pushed down power bills all around Australia, particularly in Canning, in places like Byford, Mandurah and Pinjarra. This government made it easier for Australians to balance their household budgets. But cutting regulation is one part of the story. Energy security must also be a priority. Making sure the lights stay on is an essential task of government.
The South Australian blackout should have been a wake-up call. Although a major storm precipitated the black out, there was no resilience within the system to absorb the hit. The South Australian Labor government have run headlong after green ideology. By rushing new tech and closing down the old tech, SA currently gets about 46 per cent of its energy share from renewables. But the technology just is not ready. The SA government failed at the basic duty of government: to provide essential services to their people. Renewables clearly have a strong future in Australia's energy mix. The coalition supports renewable energy and emissions reduction, but the way we get there is incredibly important. Minister Frydenberg is working with COAG to review state energy security because some state governments cannot be trusted to implement change pragmatically, in a way that protects the livelihoods of Australian people.
Across the country we can see state Labor's green impact on the mining and energy sectors. They are squeezing out thousands of Australian jobs. Victorian Labor is chasing 40 per cent renewables by 2025. Queensland Labor wants 50 per cent by 2030. These targets are strangling business, investment and jobs. In Hazelwood, Victorian Labor pushed the employer of 750 people out of town with its anticompetitive policies. This has a flow-on effect. Closing Hazelwood is a threat to the nearby Portland Alcoa facility, which relied on Hazelwood for its energy supply. If it closes, another 700 jobs will go. In my state of West Australia, energy and mining are big employers. The WA Liberal government supports the federal government's energy plan. It has no official renewable target of its own. It is pragmatic and it wants to secure the livelihoods of Western Australians. The WA Liberals are not driven by green ideology. They are pragmatic, and that is a very good thing for the power bills, energy security and jobs in Western Australia.
But what about WA Labor? They have been pretty quiet. They have a radical green energy plan themselves. On 27 October, the shadow minister for state development, energy, mines and petroleum, Bill Johnston, told the National Environmental Law Association WA State Conference that his party would introduce at least a 50 per cent renewable energy target if they won office, rivalling Queensland. This would be a disaster for the workers and rate payers of West Australia. It threatens jobs and budgets for thousands of families. Labor says they will put people first, but I will tell you the truth: if you are paying a mortgage, if you are paying school fees or if you are trying to start a small business, carefully consider your choice in March at the state election. Labor will make your life more difficult. The Barnett government is about supporting you and securing your livelihood. The Commonwealth government will back them up with sound economic and energy policy, creating better lives for not only Western Australia but Australians around this continent.