House debates

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Questions without Notice

Energy Security

2:57 pm

Photo of Russell BroadbentRussell Broadbent (McMillan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Energy. Will the minister update the House on the government's response to the closure of Hazelwood power station at Morwell in the Latrobe Valley. What is the government doing to maintain energy security? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

2:58 pm

Photo of Josh FrydenbergJosh Frydenberg (Kooyong, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for McMillan for his question, recognising his deep commitment to the job security of those in his electorate. The decision by the owners of Hazelwood to close at the end of March next year is a sad day for the workers, a sad day for their families and a sad day for the community in the Latrobe Valley. The Turnbull government stands ready to assist those workers by announcing a $43 million package, which will include jobactive assistance and training, and which will also include an infrastructure component as well as a jobs and investment package. The government will continue to work with the Australian Energy Regulator to ensure that the upward pressure on prices is not too great, as well as working with the Australian Energy Market Operator to ensure energy security and the stability of the grid is maintained. This is bearing in mind that Victoria will now go from being a net energy exporter to a net energy importer, as 22 per cent of Victoria's supply is taken out of the equation.

I am asked by the member for McMillan whether I am aware of any alternative approaches. I am aware of at least 12 different approaches from those opposite when it comes to energy policy over less than a decade. Let's go through them. The CPRS: you were for it and then you were not. That Athenian model of democracy, the citizens' assembly: you were for that, then you were not for that. Then you had that Jeffersonian quote: 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' Then you went ahead and betrayed the Australian people by introducing the carbon tax. Then, of course, you had a policy—a shameful policy—of giving more than a half a billion dollars of taxpayers' money to Hazelwood, to keep it open, to compensate it for the carbon tax. At the same time, the then member for Batman was negotiating with the owners of Hazelwood and other coal generators to close. Now you have a policy of a 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target, where you are shamelessly trading away blue-collar jobs in the regions for green votes in the city. That is your policy: selling out blue-collar jobs in the regions to win green votes in the city.

Mr Speaker, you do not have to take my word for it on how bad Labor's policy is. With the greatest respect to the Leader of the House, the real fixer was Graham Richardson. This is what he wrote in The Australian about Labor's policy:

The farce of this policy has become obvious to all … Labor has no plan on how this target would be reached.

… … …

Sadly, Labor is playing games with people’s lives. It is no good playing roulette and hoping your number comes up. The poor and pensioners particularly require certainty about lights and heat.

Only the coalition can be trusted on energy security and on energy affordability, and to get Australia to a lower emissions future. (Time expired)