Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Matters of Public Importance
The one thing I would agree with the last speaker about is that policy certainty is important for the nation. That is one thing we would agree with. The very reason we are having this debate today is that there is no policy certainty for this nation under this coalition government and under its counterparts in each of the state and territory jurisdictions. The reality is that we are having this debate because so many members of the coalition—and particularly those in the National Party, who seem to have a great say in how this government operates—still do not believe that climate change is real.
Just for the record, let me quote just three or four recent facts. Between 2013 and 2017, the world had its hottest five-year period ever. 2017 was the hottest ever in which temperatures had not been boosted by an El Nino event. The world's 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998 and 17 of the last 18 hottest years on record have occurred this century. The evidence is in, and it's clear—the climate is changing and fossil fuel burning is contributing to that change. Governments, whether in this place or at the state level, have a responsibility to lead and to manage the emerging risks that they and the people that they act on behalf of face. It is not their right to simply walk away, to kick the can down the road or to pretend that the risks simply are not there.
We see an absolute policy failure when it comes to this government. It does not have an energy policy, a gas policy or anything near it. Nor do we see one in South Australia when it comes to the two main contenders to replace Jay Weatherill as Premier of South Australia. I'm referring to Steven Marshall and Nick Xenophon. The reality is that, in South Australia, where energy is a big issue, only South Australian Labor has a credible energy plan—a plan that looks at a 75 per cent renewable energy target, a plan with a 25 per cent renewable storage target, a plan where the Premier has committed $560 million towards securing South Australia's future energy supplies through $360 million for a gas-fired generator, $100 million for battery storage and $100 million for diesel generators. That plan provides future and certainty, and future and certainty in turn provides investment and confidence for the people of South Australia.
Can I say to members opposite who don't live in South Australia: South Australians are getting rather sick and tired of the minister for energy and the Prime Minister constantly coming into this place and telling them that they are following an energy policy in South Australia that is wrong for them. South Australians are not fools. They understand that it was not renewable energy that caused the blackout two years ago, and they also understand that the future in terms of the security of our state rests with a clean energy target and a clean energy system. That has been proven by the fact that we're seeing in South Australia in recent times significant investments, whether it is from Elon Musk, with his battery investment; Sanjeev Gupta, who is leading a green energy revival of the Whyalla steelworks; or Sonnen's proposed manufacturing plant, again, to do with renewable energy in South Australia. These investments are creating jobs for South Australians and creating the policy certainty that is required. Yet, when you look at the Liberal opposition in South Australia, led by Steven Marshall, there is no credibility, no policy, no idea.
The reality is that it was the Liberals who sold off ETSA. As far as Nick Xenophon goes, yes, he voted against the sale, but he would have supported the long-term lease of it, which would have amounted to exactly the same thing. The Liberals sold ETSA, and they did so quite deliberately, making sure that there was not a New South Wales interconnector in order to boost the price of the sale. Had that connector been there at the time when the blackout occurred, we may not have had the blackout. But, in order to boost the price of the sale of the ETSA, they deliberately walked away from the interconnector with New South Wales at the time. This is a party who has no idea about energy policy, and that's become more evident in their recent policy announcements, which the member for Wakefield quite rightly, just a moment ago, showed them as ridiculous propositions being put to the people of South Australia.
With respect to the other party, SA-BEST—and I won't go into all the details, because time does not permit me—there is a simple message. They'll say what they think people want to hear, but, at the end of the day, they do not have a coherent policy. Their latest policy of supposedly having a cooperative buy energy does nothing to address the real issue of how the energy is created in the first place. Only Labor has a secure energy policy for the future of South Australia.