Thursday, 9 March 2023
Questions without Notice
Chris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | Hansard source
I thank the honourable member for the question about the government's action on power prices. We heard some of the response just then from those opposite. The response of those opposite is to see this as a laughing matter and something to play politics with. But Australians know that governments around the world are dealing with high power prices and the Albanese government is dealing with high power prices. We dealt with them last December and we saw the same response from members opposite then, when they came in and voted in this chamber against lower power prices. When you walk through these doors, when the bells are ringing, you're making a choice; you're choosing a side. This side chose lower power prices; that side chose higher profits and higher power prices.
We acted to cap gas prices and worked in concert with the governments of Queensland and New South Wales to cap coal prices. This is having an impact and it will have an impact in what we will see next week. We know that at the time of the budget we made very clear, transparently, that the Treasurer was expecting a 36 per cent increase in power prices in 2023-24. When you're faced with such evidence you have a choice: you can hide it, you can change the law to keep it secret—option A—or—option B—you can be transparent about it and take action to fix it. We chose B on this side of the House. Others have previously chosen other options, but I don't intend to dwell on such matters. I intend to dwell on what we are doing and the impact it is having.
Since that intervention in December, we have seen the wholesale price of electricity fall by 46 per cent in Queensland, 41 per cent in New South Wales, 48 per cent in the honourable member's home state of South Australia, and 34 per cent in Victoria. These are reductions which this side of the House and the crossbench voted in favour of and the opposition voted against. That's what they voted for last December. The shadow minister likes to hold up a sign. He might as well hold up a placard saying 'What do we want? Higher power prices. When do we want it? Now.' That is what the shadow minister for energy is promoting. That is what they say on the other side of the House.
The increases we will see in next week's draft default market offer will be tough, but we and the Australian people know just how much higher they would have been in the absence of decisive action by this government and how high they would be if those opposite had their way. They had their choice last December, they made their choice last December and they made very clear whose side they're on.