House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Matters of Public Importance


3:46 pm

Photo of Cassandra FernandoCassandra Fernando (Holt, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

The Albanese Labor government was elected on a mandate to deliver immediate cost-of-living relief to millions of Australians who were struggling due to the mess left behind by those on the other side of this chamber. This includes rorts—too many to name—and a trillion dollars of debt. As a nation, we're also faced with crises at home and across from our shores which impact on our economy. First was the global pandemic, which put severe pressure on supply chains across the world. On the other hand we have the year-long war in Europe due to Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, which is creating havoc in energy markets around the world and pushing electricity prices higher at home. I understand the impact that higher energy prices are having on households and businesses, and wish that the previous government had been aware of the risks of playing games with our nation's domestic energy policy. Instead it was left to those who did nothing but leave a decade of chaos and delay behind them.

Last December, we took action to take some of the burden of higher power prices off in order to support families, small businesses and Australian manufacturers. After nearly a decade in government, one would expect the opposition to be more aware of the way that government and the government's policies work. I guess that expectation only holds if they took action during those nine years. Unfortunately, the impact of government policies are rarely felt overnight and it will take some time for the benefits of the Albanese Labor government's policies to flow through fully, but there are encouraging signs that our actions are starting to work. We're seeing a big reduction in the price increases that were forecast for 2023.

After seeing a decade of energy policy chaos, the opposition voted against action on power prices and tried to block direct energy price relief. That's correct: the very same opposition that accuses the government of failing to deliver reductions on energy prices actually failed to support reductions on energy prices. They can talk the talk but they can never walk the walk. If the opposition had their way, power prices would be even higher and households would get what they got over the past decade of inaction: nothing. They are hopelessly out of touch to think that Australian households, businesses and manufacturers should not get the support that they need and deserve. The opposition's record is stellar in leaving no stone unturned to make life harder for honest, hardworking everyday Australians. First, they helped create the problem with their decade of energy policy chaos. Then they kept power price increases a secret until after the federal election last year.

Finally, they tried to block direct energy price relief for households and businesses. If we had let them get their way, families across this country would be paying over $230 more on their power bills than they would otherwise have to, without a cent of extra support.

We on this side are taking urgent action to shield Australian families and businesses from the worst of these energy spikes. Since the announcement of the intervention, forward prices have dropped significantly from what they would have been. According to the latest AEMO quarterly energy dynamics report, energy feature prices began trending down in November in anticipation of the government's intervention. We will have further announcements in the near future about the remaining elements of the plan, including targeted rebates for consumers and small businesses. We are wasting no time in delivering a stable policy framework to reduce volatility in the market, put downward pressure on prices and encourage increased investment in transmission. I applaud the Albanese Labor government, particularly the Prime Minister, and the Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, for providing effective, efficient energy price relief for all Australians. I thank the House.


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