Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Treasury Laws Amendment (Prohibiting Energy Market Misconduct) Bill 2018; Second Reading
What we are seeing from the other side on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Prohibiting Energy Market Misconduct) Bill 2018 is confusion because they don't know whether they're in favour of a big stick, a small stick or no stick at all. There is one thing that they are not confused about one little bit, and that is that they stand for the profits of the big energy companies. What an extraordinary turnaround by Labor! The industry has malfunctioned. The ACCC made it very clear—it's all laid out—that three players in this market have 80 per cent of the dispatchable generation across each state. It's clear from the ACCC report—there is no ambiguity whatsoever—that that is resulting in a bad deal for consumers, and the government needs to act.
Those opposite have said they will sit with the big energy companies in protecting their profits. This is puzzling to me because Labor used to be the party of the workers. It used to be a party of the sorts of people who work in steel mills and aluminium smelters and of the middle Australians who struggle to pay their energy bills. But they've given them away; they're not interested in those people at all. There's a reason for this: they actually want higher electricity prices. Don't take it from me; take it from the Labor Environment Action Network. They are strongly praised by the shadow minister over there; he thinks they're a wonderful group; he said so himself. They have talked about higher electricity prices as 'the market working well'. The shadow minister wants to see higher electricity prices.
In fact, last time they were in government, they doubled the prices. They added a carbon tax; they doubled the prices. There is a reason why they want higher prices: they need higher prices because they have committed to a 45 per cent emission reduction target, which the Business Council has said will be a wrecking ball for the economy. The only way they're going to achieve that is by getting Australian businesses small and large, and Australian households, to buy less electricity. They need that. They have got to have that or else they're never going to reach their targets. That's what they're absolutely committed to.
It's not the only thing they're going to do with the 45 per cent emission reduction target. They're also going to have to hit agriculture hard. They haven't explained to us yet what they're going to do in controlling farmers' land. They are going to tighten native title legislation for all the farmers who get out there every day in a drought, like right now, and bust themselves to make a buck. They're going to have to explain the tightening of the native title laws that they're going to bring in.