House debates

Monday, 11 September 2023


Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Amendment (Administrative Changes) Bill 2023; Second Reading

5:50 pm

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | Hansard source

I want to thank all honourable members for their contribution to this non-controversial but important bill, the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards Amendment (Administrative Changes) Bill, which makes changes to the GEMS Act. While minor, these amendments support the achievement of the objectives of the act by giving flexibility to help more energy-efficient products to be available in the Australian market. We need to be ready for our energy future, and what better way than to update the already significant program, which has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by between 40 and 60 megatonnes of CO2 and saved households and businesses between $11.8 billion and $17.8 billion over the course of it being in place?

To meet the government's net zero target, it will be important to enhance our demand-side measures, including improving the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment supplied in Australia. I note the interest of the members of the crossbench in including more categories of products within the purview of the act, particularly demand-response capabilities, which can provide grid-firming resources at low cost.

The bill implements a number of recommendations of the 2019 independent review of the act. Our government is working through the balance of the recommendations, including those relating to the scope of the act, as part of the development of the National Energy Performance Strategy.

I again thank all honourable members for their contribution. I do have to say, though, that I think the member for Lyne made an unfortunate contribution in scaremongering about demand-side responses. Demand-side responses put consumers in charge. Scaremongering—saying that people are going to come and turn your lights off and take control of the energy in your house—isn't a useful contribution to the debate. Many consumers are taking the opportunity themselves to put virtual power plants in so that they can maximise their activity within the grid. It's something I've done as well. Demand-side responses are about empowering people. There's a long-existing work program—which the honourable member was referring to, although he didn't name it—which has existed under governments of all persuasions. There were lack-of-reserve incidents in 2019 and 2017 under the previous government, which is when there is a very severe shortage. Of course, the RERT played a very big role in that circumstance, as well. Those were arrangements entered into with big industrial users that they agreed to comply with and participate in. This is something very different.

Electric vehicles have the opportunity to be batteries on wheels which can, in due course, feed back into grid if the consumer asks them to. The consumer is in control of when they charge and when they discharge into their house or into the grid. It's something which will be very important for stability, going forward. To scaremonger and say that somehow this will be a central command-and-control model is not a useful contribution to the debate. The honourable member for Lyne has just shown his party's disdain and disregard for renewable energy and their weird obsession with nuclear energy—the most expensive form of energy available. That's a debate I very much look forward to having in the lead-up to the next election. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.


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