Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Energy. Will the minister update the House on how the government is reducing the pressures on energy costs for businesses such as the Nowra abattoir, which employs 220 Aussies, or Argyle Meats in Nowra, which employs more than 30? Is the minister aware of any obstacles to delivering energy reliability and affordability?
I thank the member for Gilmore for her question and acknowledge her deep concern about the rising electricity prices from Berry to Batemans Bay. Just yesterday I met with the owner of a major abattoir in Junee that has gone from 32 employees less than two decades ago to 210 today. He is the biggest private employer in the Junee area and he has seen his electricity prices increased by 35 per cent year on year to nearly three-quarters of a million dollars. That is why we on this side of the House are focused on important reforms to the energy markets, trying to get more gas into the system, ensuring that we can reduce the cost of the transportation of gas, reining in the network costs, which can be up to 50 per cent of a household electricity bill, investing record amounts in storage, whether it is in battery storage or in the pumped hydro facilities that the Prime Minister has so encouraged, like Snowy Hydro 2.0 and others at Kidston and at Cultana.
I am asked if there are any obstacles to this approach. We know that those opposite, the Leader of the Opposition, who always turns his back when we are talking about energy policy, has refused to acknowledge the folly of his ways. Just four days after the election of Donald Trump, the Leader of the Opposition went down to a Victorian ALP's state conference and said, 'We will heed the lessons of Ohio, of Detroit, of Pennsylvania, of the mills, the batteries and the mines.' I say to the Leader of the Opposition: you do not have to turn on NBC to learning those lessons; you need just turn on the ABC and look across the border at South Australia, look at the debacle in South Australia, with their 50 per cent renewable energy target. And he wants to take this shemozzle national! He also has an emissions reduction target of 45 per cent, which the BCA has called 'risky', saying it could risk the future growth of this country. He has an emissions intensity scheme that wants to see the closure of the Yallourn Power Station, of Muja AB of the Liddell and also other coal fired power stations across the country, including Vales Point, in the member for Shortland's electorate. These are the policies of those opposite. No wonder people are starting to ring the alarm bells. No wonder Ben Davis of the AWU said you are potentially crucifying thousands of manufacturing jobs. No wonder Tony Maher, the head of the CFMEU, has written to all Labor members saying a 50 per cent RET will increase electricity prices. No wonder Richo, Graham Richardson, the original fixer—apologies to the member for Sturt—has said that Labor's policy is a farce. Your policy is a farce. Switch away from ideology, and think about jobs and investment in this country.