Tuesday, 23 March 2021
Matters of Public Importance
The member for McMahon, who is pretending that he likes the coal industry, went up to Queensland, visited a metallurgical coalmine and refused to do any media so that he could come back to the coffee shops of Sydney and Melbourne and explain to people that he in fact doesn't support the coal industry after all—just like his colleague the member for Shortland, who never supported the coal industry and is quite happy to see his constituents losing their jobs.
The member for McMahon mentioned the ANAO report. I make the very simple point that the ANAO report recognises that the department made a clear recommendation that the funding be approved. He can say whatever he likes but that was a clear recommendation, and it is focused on making sure we have the secure, reliable, affordable supply that Australians need. Ultimately this is about protecting jobs and creating opportunities for Australia—not destroying jobs, like those opposite would have us do.
The strength of our commitment to jobs and opportunities for all Australians was demonstrated just last week, on Friday, when the Prime Minister announced a package alongside the energy generators for the Portland aluminium smelter that will secure 500 jobs. Those are direct jobs for the Portland aluminium smelter.
Mr Bowen interjecting—
I'll take the interjection from the member opposite—150 jobs, from a single contractor who I met this morning who will benefit.
Mr Bowen interjecting—
That's right—150 jobs that will be protected, because they provide contractors to the Portland aluminium smelter. The member for McMahon wouldn't know that, because, as the member for Hunter has said, he's got his training wheels on.
We'll provide up to $77 million as part of that package over four years to secure Portland's participation in reducing energy demand at peak times. This is a unique role that aluminium smelters can play, but those opposite wouldn't understand. Certainly, the member for McMahon, with his training wheels on, wouldn't have a clue. What you can do with an aluminium smelter is make sure you keep the lights on and keep prices down at those peak demand times, and that's what we're recognising in this package. But it's alongside very aggressive, low wholesale electricity prices that were offered by the electricity generators as part of this package, and that is only possible because of the policies of this government to make sure we have affordable reliable energy in this country, in stark contrast to what we saw from those opposite when they were last in power.
We saw shining examples of mismanagement from those opposite when they were last in office. Indeed, based on the work of the member for Shortland, of course, and with the strong encouragement of the member for McMahon who wrote about this in glowing terms in his book, Labor in partnership with the Greens imposed a carbon tax that destroyed the Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter, ending the careers of more than 300 people. It shut and announced its closure in the time when those opposite had imposed a carbon tax. This is the same carbon tax that the member for McMahon has gone out of his way to defend. He has never seen a tax he didn't like, whether it's a housing tax or a retiree tax, and now he's been put in this job to put in place a carbon tax, because what he loves more than anything else is taxing Australians.