Thursday, 9 March 2023
Matters of Public Importance
Jerome Laxale (Bennelong, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source
Here we go—another day, another MPI when those opposite feign outrage at the problems they created; another day, another MPI when they fail to acknowledge the plans of this government to fix the energy policy failures they left the country. All of those opposite know that we are taking urgent action to shield Australian families and businesses from the worst of the Liberals' energy price spikes.
I hope the member for Riverina tells his constituents how he voted against energy price relief when we came back here in December last year and put a cap on coal and gas prices and provided targeted energy bill relief, which was backed by every premier in every state and territory. We know that since the announcement of that price intervention forward prices are significantly less than what they would have been under the Liberals.
Those opposite voted to make power bills for families hundreds of dollars higher than they needed to be. They voted against targeted energy bill relief for thousands of Australian households and businesses, they voted against energy bill relief for pensioners and families doing it tough, and they voted against energy price relief for small businesses and manufacturers. Those opposite think it's fine and dandy for Aussie manufacturers to shut as they get slogged with upward-spiralling gas prices from Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine.
We've done more than our energy price relief plan. We've just rolled out our small business energy grants. These grants will support businesses to upgrade and replace inefficient equipment, improving their energy efficiency. These grants, from $10,000 to $25,000, are available right now for small and medium-sized businesses to upgrade their facilities. They'll enable industry to reduce its energy prices, manage energy costs and improve its viability in the long term. This will contribute to Australia's emissions reduction target of 43 per cent by 2030. And—get this—the objective of this program is to reduce power bills for small and medium-sized businesses.
Then, of course, there are this government's huge investments in renewable energy, not only direct investments from government but also investments from the private sector because of the certainty that we have provided to the energy market. I'll let the opposition in on a little secret, Madam Deputy Speaker: the cheapest form of energy right now is renewable energy. Everyone knows it—the world knows it; Australians know it—but those over there refuse to accept it. To put downward pressure on energy bills, Australians need to invest in the cheapest form of power today. Since we came to power, large-scale wind and solar farm investments have grown. They grew by 50 per cent in 2022, totalling 4.3 gigawatts of new, cheap power. The second half of last year also saw a step up in rooftop solar investment by families, with over 300,000 small-scale rooftop systems adding 2.8 gigawatts of power, and all we see from those opposite is energy chaos. ARENA is investing $176 million in eight large-scale batteries. Then, of course, we have the $400 million investment in community batteries, which will help those communities store energy overnight and use free power at night. We're investing in renewable energy because it's cheap and it's good for the planet.
Contrast that to what those opposite want to do: they want to revive nuclear. They've been talking about nuclear energy in this place since 1955. Senator Spooner spoke about it in this place in 1955. There was not a peep about it in their last nine years in government. They dangle this radioactive carrot every couple of years. They bring it up and they all talk about it. It's all talk, no action. Let's have a look at what they're talking about. Two reputable organisations have costed the small modular reactors at $5 billion a reactor. We need 80 across the grid, they predict. That's $400 billion for their nuclear folly. It'd be cheaper to go to Wakanda and mine some vibranium than it would be to invest in nuclear power. We've had 'Kooyong Forever'. They're now going 'Wakanda Forever'.
The solution for cheap energy is investment in renewables. Those opposite want to go nuclear, and it will be bad for our country.