House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Matters of Public Importance


3:31 pm

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | Hansard source

There's one person walking around this parliament at the moment who is very, very happy, and that is the Greens leader. Even though the Prime Minister is off watching the cricket in India, the Greens leader has done a dodgy deal with Labor to get through the National Reconstruction Fund. Why is he happy? It's because there's no coal or gas as part of that legislation, so he's had a win. Earlier this week we heard the member for Brand, the Minister for Resources, answering questions in question time, and the Greens were absolutely into her for all they were worth. You saw this bit of a lovers' tiff between Labor and the Greens. Things were going a little bit rocky. But they patched it up! They've patched it up with some dodgy backroom deal, because that's what Labor and the Greens do.

The economist we just heard from, the minister at the table—the first part of his contribution was all about the politics. That's all well and good. He was talking about the Liberal leaders who he claimed had to go because of climate policies. Well, emissions came down under the coalition. We met and we beat all of our international obligations and we didn't bankrupt the economy while we did it. We didn't send businesses to the wall and we didn't force farmers to stop growing food and fibre whilst we were lowering emissions. We did it in a practical, balanced, sensible, methodical way—the coalition way. But what this mob opposite want to do is push power prices up.

I didn't hear the minister at the dispatch box talking about the mum who's going to be worried this winter about how she's going to pay the power bills at home. I didn't hear the member opposite talk about the truckie who's going to be worried about whether he or she is going to be able to put their road freight transport out there to make sure that they can continue to deliver the goods around Australia, even though they're going to pay 10 per cent more at the bowser and they're going to pay a hell of a lot more than that when they turn on the power switch. This is reckless, reckless politics by those opposite. But they're always about the politics. They're always about doing dodgy deals with the Greens. They're never about the family. They're never about the small business—those operators who are worried about whether they're going to be able to make ends meet.

We heard in question time today from the Minister for Education. He mightn't have realised it, but he was talking about higher education, and I thought it was the best answer, to be honest, in question time today, if not the whole week. He talked about the fact that we can make money out of higher education without having to dig something up out of the ground. He belled the cat—he absolutely did—because he acknowledged by that very phrase that we make money by digging things up out ground, and we've been doing it for decades. I tell you what—digging things up out of the ground has paid for a lot of schools, has paid for a lot of hospitals and has kept the lights on. It has made us—and kept us—one of the great nations of the world. But those opposite, with their reckless disregard for ensuring power prices are kept low, have ditched households and small businesses.

It wasn't that long ago—in fact, it was prior to the last election—that Labor said they were going to reduce power prices. Ninety-seven times—a Bradman-like number—the Prime Minister said that they were going to reduce power prices by $275. We haven't heard that number come out of the Prime Minister's mouth since, and for good reason, because we heard today that power prices are going to go up. And when are they going to go up? They're going to go up in the coldest months, in winter. How are people going to pay their power bills when prices go up by as much as 20 per cent? They were going down under us. The fact remains that this is going to send a lot of businesses to the wall. This is going to make it so hard for families who are already struggling with cost-of-living pressures. This is not good.

Each and every one of the Labor members opposite is no doubt getting constituent calls about what they're doing. They ought to be honest, look those people in the eye and say: 'Well, we're going to be closing power stations. We're turning our back on coal and gas. We're turning our back on the very industries that keep the lights on, keep power prices low and keep the country running.' I say: shame on Labor members. They ought to think long and hard. That $275 reduction was a great big fib.


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