Monday, 27 March 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on the government's efforts to drive down energy costs for hardworking Australians and their families? How is the government acting to ensure that Australia has a competitive and transparent energy market that delivers reliable and affordable energy to consumers?
I thank the member for Boothby for her question. She knows what it is like to live in a state where the state government cannot keep the lights on. She knows that full well; hence, her keen interest to make sure that Australian households and Australian businesses can benefit from the policies of this government, which is doing everything it can to ensure we put downward pressure on upward increases in electricity prices.
Under the Labor Party, when they were in government, electricity prices doubled under those opposite. And, during Labor's time in government, electricity prices were increasing at an average rate, annually, of 12½ per cent per year.
Under the coalition, the average annual rate of growth of electricity prices is less than 0.5 per cent. What that means is: under Labor's policies, electricity prices increased more than 25 times greater than is occurring under this side. And our record is to keep these prices down and to do everything in our power to ensure we can.
That is why we are acting on gas supplies. That is why the Prime Minister has called in the gas suppliers to ensure that we can have the certainty of the supply of gas during peak periods. It is why the minister for energy has been acting on competition reforms and regulatory reforms to ensure that, whether it is on the pipelines or gas issues, these are being addressed. It is why this government is acting on energy storage with projects like Snowy 2 or Cultana or projects of that nature.
And it is why today I have tasked the ACCC with prising open the books of electricity retailers to ensure that Australian consumers, families, households and businesses are going to get a fair deal. This process has already proved its worth, with the east-coast gas-supply-market study, which was undertaken by the ACCC, which this government is now acting on the findings of. So the ACCC have demonstrated their worthiness and their skills and experience in being able to pinpoint the issues so that this government can take further action to put downward pressure on electricity prices. They will report back with an interim report within six months, and the final report will be delivered by 30 June next year.
This is in stark contrast to what the Labor Party did when they were in government and what they were trying to do. They said they would do something about the cost of living, and the shadow Treasurer then and now, and the minister responsible then, came up with—you remember it—Grocery Watch, and he came up with Fuel Watch! And, having huffed and puffed about controlling prices, he dropped them, some $20 million later and six months afterwards—not because there was no legislation; he just knew they were a complete failure, as the Labor Party's policies were on all these issues when they were in government.