House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Matters of Public Importance


3:11 pm

Photo of Ted O'BrienTed O'Brien (Fairfax, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | Hansard source

It's $950. Thank you very much, member for Fisher. That is nearly $1,000. Members on the government benches are dumbfounded. They're not good at the detail. They're not good at the maths. But that is a variation of around about $1,000. In other words, you have already cut it short; there's already a shortfall between what you promised the Australian people and what you are delivering by $1,000 after only nine months in office. In the midst of the cost-of-living crisis of all time, this government makes purposeful decisions that in fact drive up the price of energy.

From our end—from the coalition's end—did we seek to get energy prices down? We sure did! Absolutely! And in the last term of government alone, we did. In the last term of government alone, we saw energy bills coming down for households by eight per cent. For businesses, under the coalition they came down by 10 per cent and for industries they came down by 12 per cent. The coalition delivered lower energy prices. The Labor Party promised to go even further, but prices are skyrocketing.

Today became another day of revelation. This morning we read that power bills are going to go up yet again over winter. They will increase by 20 per cent—an additional 20 per cent from where they are today. This is where power bills are going over winter. Let's not forget that just before Christmas the Prime Minister recalled parliament after having power prices blow out, and he made a second promise to the Australian people that he would fix this—power prices would be coming down and relief would be flowing as of April this year. It isn't going to happen! And now we find out that it's going up even further, by 20 per cent.

We can stand in this chamber and bang the table about this but, in truth, the ones who really count on this are the ones at home. We don't know who is listening to this, but there are bound to be senior citizens—probably the same senior citizens who have contacted MPs in their offices, I bet on both sides of the chamber. They're struggling; they're genuinely struggling to put food on the table. We are talking about seniors, and a lot of them don't know if they're going to be able to turn the heating on in winter. This is Australia, for crying out loud! We're one of the most prosperous nations on earth, but we have our most vulnerable worrying about whether or not they can put the heating on in winter because of Labor's power bills.

This is so concerning for families and for businesses. I was speaking to smelters and steelmakers in the second half of last year. They were telling me that they might have to close shop and move—or relocate to China or India—because of the power bills. And what was the answer to this from the Labor Party's policy suite? They decided to introduce a carbon tax; they decided to actually make it more expensive for manufacturing businesses, risking a loss of businesses and closures.

This comes down to a fundamental divide between the way that the coalition looks at the world and the way that Labor looks at the world. On the coalition side, we absolutely get the need to reduce emissions. That's why we smashed all our targets out of the ballpark. We reduced emissions by over 20 per cent on 2005 levels, right? The Labor Party are already falling behind their own target. They had a target which they legislated but they never did any economic modelling for. We struck a balance, because we knew that in order for us to tackle that challenge that we couldn't hurt the Australian people or botch the Australian economy. But that's precisely what Labor is now doing. It's on them after the amount of times we have said, 'Do not go down the path you're on.' On this side, the coalition, we back industry, we back enterprise, we back technology and we back the innovative genius of Australians. But the Labor government believes in big government, big unions and big taxes.

At no point has this socialist-like approach helped to reduce power prices or make life easier for Australians. And yet today, of all days, when we found out this morning that power prices are going up by 20 per cent over winter, the Labor Party had a dorothy dixer in question time and the minister was given an opportunity to show off about power prices! I do not know of any government that has been so removed from the reality that the people are feeling at home. We had the minister celebrating the fact that power prices are going to go up even higher. This is a minister who has not done one day of work outside of politics in his entire life. He does not get how it works in the real world. But, of course, in cabinet he sits across the table from the Prime Minister, who, by the way, has never done a day's work in his life outside of politics. They look across to the Treasurer, who might know the numbers, but the Treasurer has never done a day's work outside politics in his entire life.

The Prime Minister talks about a new era in energy policy, saying the Treasurer is redefining capitalism. The minister for energy thinks it's the new industrial revolution. They're ushering in new eras and redefining capitalism. There's a new industrial revolution, but not one of them knows how the real economy works. This is why Australia is in the problem state it is in today. Every single time it's the Australian people that pay. They're paying again under Labor. You promised $275. The Australian people expect it to be delivered and so does the coalition.


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