Monday, 8 February 2016
Questions without Notice
Petrie Electorate: Energy
My question is to the Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia. Minister, as you are aware, the cost of energy is a significant issue for people in my electorate of Petrie. Whether you run a restaurant or run a manufacturing business or run a household, these people would be interested to know, Minister: what is the government doing to help households and small businesses, in Petrie, control their electricity and energy costs?
I thank the member for Petrie for his question and acknowledge his hard work in this place for his constituents. He, like me, understands that this government has done everything possible to put downward pressure on electricity prices, unlike those opposite, who saw electricity prices increase by 80 per cent over five years. The way we brought electricity prices down in the past was through the good work of the member for Flinders, who abolished the carbon tax. As a result, we saw that energy prices fell by the greatest amount on record.
But electricity prices are a complex equation, with a number of factors influencing them. That is why this government is taking three particular steps to put downward pressure on electricity prices. Firstly, we are trying to empower customers. Secondly, we are putting in place the appropriate regulation for networks. Thirdly, we are trying to boost efficiency and productivity in electricity markets.
The COAG Energy Council, which has representatives from all states and territories, has committed to giving customers greater choice over their particular energy plan by aligning their energy use and consumption patterns with their particular plan of choice. The Australian Energy Market Commission says that this could reduce household electricity bills by more than $100 a year. COAG has also introduced new powers for the Australian Energy Regulator so that it can properly scrutinise network spending patterns so that customers do not pay any more than necessary. This is important because network spending comprises nearly 50 per cent of household electricity bills. Again, this measure could save around $100 a year for households. In December last year I launched the National Energy Productivity Plan, which seeks to improve energy productivity and efficiency by 40 per cent between now and 2030. We are working on improved standards for vehicles, buildings and appliances to boost productivity and efficiency, and that is absolutely critical.
The electricity markets in this country are in transition. We are seeing a greater use of renewables, we are seeing a greater focus on customer choice and we are seeing more appropriate, targeted regulation. For the member for Petrie, this is good news for his constituents. Households in Margate, Griffin and Bracken Ridge and companies that are major local employers in these areas, like Polyworld in Clontarf and Premier Pet in Narangba, are all benefiting from the low electricity prices that this government is driving by good policy.