Monday, 27 February 2017
Questions without Notice
I thank the honourable member for his question. He knows very well that Australian businesses are under pressure with rising costs, just as Australian families are. No costs are rising faster than energy costs and electricity costs in particular. We can best support Australian families and Australian businesses—like those I visited this morning in Hume, not far from here—by ensuring that they have affordable and reliable electricity. The greatest threat to that affordable and reliable electricity is the reckless policies of the Australian Labor Party. And they are not just a theoretical threat; we have seen exactly what happens in South Australia. We have seen there an enormous renewable energy target with no planning to integrate that renewable energy into the grid, no consideration given to transmission or storage, no consideration given to baseload power other than shutting it down, and the result has been the most expensive and the least reliable energy in Australia.
These costs of electricity have been skyrocketing. A car mechanic in Ipswich has seen their power bill double from $5,000 a year to $10,000. A hairdresser in Western Sydney has seen her power bill go from $2,200 to $4,800. The businesses I met with today in Hume with the Minister for the Environment and Energy and Senator Seselja included a bottle maker, Bottles of Australia, who said energy is around nine per cent of the cost of running their business. They are an exporter. They are dealing at the competitive margin, dealing in cents of advantage per bottle. Doubling their electricity cost over the last decade, with 20 per cent rises foreshadowed in the ACT, undermines their competitiveness.
One of the other small businesses there said that the cost in electricity that was foreshadowed was going to result in him having to lay off workers. We saw another business there that operates a data centre. Energy cost for them is 20 per cent of their overhead. They are in a competitive business both within Australia and internationally. How do they continue to compete if energy costs keep on rising and rising? Labor has no plan for this other than an ideological commitment to renewable energy without any plan for integration.
We are taking an all-of-the-above approach, a rational approach—businesslike, based on engineering and economics. We are committed to storage, transmission, affordable and reliable power. (Time expired)