Wednesday, 31 May 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 taking a technology-neutral approach to energy policy that will allow carbon capture and storage to play a bigger role in the transition to a lower emissions future? Is the minister aware of any obstacles?
I thank the member for Durack for her question. She holds the biggest electorate in Australia, home to some of the most major resource projects in Australia, like the Gorgon facility, which will soon see a major carbon capture and storage project. She, like all those on this side of the House, welcomed the Turnbull government's announcement that we will amend the CEFC legislation to allow carbon capture and storage—a proven technology which has an application not just for thermal generation, coal and gas but also, importantly, for industrial processes: for steel, for cement making, for chemical processes to reduce emissions by up to 90 per cent. It has been endorsed by the International Energy Agency, the IPCC—
Mr Perrett interjecting—
the Chief Scientist, the CSIRO and, since our announcement yesterday, BHP, BlueScope, the Business Council of Australia, Energy Networks Australia and Shell. Many others have welcomed the Turnbull government's announcement. So I was surprised, when we announced that we were amending the CEFC legislation, that the Leader of the Opposition, who now turns his back, put out a tweet. The tweet said, 'You've got to be kidding'. I say to the Leader of the Opposition, 'Who is kidding?' I want to play a game of 'guess who'. Who said, 'Carbon capture and storage projects are occurring throughout the world'? The member for McMahon! Who said that carbon capture and storage 'is a critically important technology that we have to develop in this country'? The member for Corio! Who said, 'We have to make carbon capture and storage work; these are one of the key and must-have technologies in the challenge that we face'? That was the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Wong. Who said:
Labor will also restore flexibility to the CEFC by broadening the Investment Mandate to make it technology neutral …
That was in the Labor Party's election platform last year. The cake always goes to the last bloke. Who put out one of his many releases just yesterday, saying:
Labor has been a strong supporter of carbon capture technology for many years.
That was the member for Port Adelaide, the opposition spokesman for energy and climate change. If the Labor Party do not support our amendments to the CEFC, they do not support a technology neutral approach and they do not support lower emissions for Australian industry and thermal generation. (Time expired)
My question is to the Prime Minister. Wholesale electricity prices have doubled under this government, so how is it fair that this Prime Minister is ripping away the $365 energy supplement from pensioners to pay for his tax cut for millionaires?
Mr Robert interjecting—
The honourable member is referring to the budget measure that he incorporated in his own election policy. Those are savings that the Labor Party appropriated themselves. Compensation for a tax that is no longer present is being removed for new entrants. It is an equitable and balanced budget saving and it represents a fair approach that the Labor Party appropriated themselves in the lead-up to the last election. That is the fact.
The Labor Party has done more than anybody to contribute to the rapid increase in wholesale electricity prices. We have seen some extraordinary conduct by the Labor Party. The member for Port Adelaide is over there drawing attention to himself. He is a representative of the state that managed to create a situation where it had a wind resource that at any given time could contribute more than 100 per cent of the state's electricity demand or zero per cent, in which case it would rely instead on a long extension cord to the Latrobe Valley in Victoria. This is a political party that has put a prohibition on gas exploration and development in the state of Victoria—the state that has the largest demand for industrial gas has put a ban not just on unconventional gas exploration and not just on fracking but also on conventional gas exploration. The biggest driver in very recent times of the increase in wholesale electricity prices, as all honourable members know, has been the increase in gas prices, driven by a shortage of supply. It was under the Labor government that the big deals were done to export gas from Queensland without any thought to domestic gas security.
Presented with this problem, we saw from the Labor government a combination of ideology and complacency—Left ideology and Labor complacency. What we have done is act, and we have put in place the measures that will ensure that the Australian domestic gas market will be fully supplied. We have already seen reductions in the netback price at Wallumbilla. I am sure the honourable member for Port Adelaide is aware of that. We have seen some reductions, we have seen some effect, and we are determined to ensure that domestic supply for the east coast gas market is adequate. We have taken the tough decisions to ensure that it is—yet again cleaning up the energy mess left by the Labor Party.