Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, representing the Minister for Regional Development. Will the minister advise the House how the government's National Energy Guarantee will help strengthen and drive regional development by providing certainty to investors, businesses and hardworking Australian families? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?
I thank the member for Page for his question. Like all members on this side of the House, he understands the importance of reliable and affordable energy, particularly for low-income earners in his electorate. I am surprised, Member for Page, to hear those opposite talking about a potential $115-per-year reduction in household energy bills as being lousy. How out of touch are those opposite to think that's lousy? On this side of the House, what do you think? In your electorates, hands up if you think your low-income earners would appreciate a $115-per-year reduction in their energy bills. Do you think they'd appreciate that? How much do you think your small-business owners would appreciate a $115-a-year reduction in their energy bills? To those opposite: hands up if you think any of the low-income earners in your electorates would appreciate a $115 reduction. None of you? None of you think $115 a year is important? None of you think a $115-a-year reduction in—
I think we've completed the survey, and no-one opposite believes that reducing power prices by $115 per year is a good result for low-income earners in their electorates. On this side we know it is a good idea. We know that reliable and affordable energy is so crucial to low-income earners and to families, to small businesses and to manufacturers in towns like Casino and Grafton, Lismore and Yamba. Bill Collingburn at Yamba Welding & Engineering knows that, if it takes some of the pressure off his energy bills, it's going to mean he can employ more people in that beautiful part of the world.
The Turnbull-Joyce government is delivering. We're taking action with our National Energy Guarantee. Our National Energy Guarantee is a huge step forward. It will take pressure off households. It will help to secure jobs. It will allow for certainty of investment by our power generators and also for our providers of base-load energy, particularly in electorates like my own, in Gippsland, in the Latrobe Valley. Those opposite want to talk about guarantees. I can tell you one thing you can guarantee: blue-collar workers will lose their jobs under the opposition's plan.
Oh, they've found their voice. They don't find their voice to stand up for blue-collar workers in this place.
The member for Page asked me about an alternative approach. There is an alternative approach. The modern Labor way is to vilify power station workers. It's not to stand up for blue-collar workers; it's to come into this place and sell out for Greens votes. Those opposite are hopelessly compromised when it comes to blue-collar workers. I challenge those opposite, particularly those from regional areas, like the member for Hunter, the member for Shortland and the member for Herbert, to finally stand up for some blue-collar workers, like old Labor members used to. Get fair dinkum about the blue-collar workers in your electorates. Get fair dinkum about energy affordability and supply, and support the National Energy Guarantee.