House debates

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Questions without Notice


2:48 pm

Photo of Llew O'BrienLlew O'Brien (Wide Bay, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister outline to the House why affordable and reliable energy is crucial for regional and rural health services in Queensland? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches that may jeopardise the delivery of essential services for patients?

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to thank the member for Wide Bay, who hasn't just made a great start on the ground as a new member of parliament representing people in towns such as Gympie and Maryborough and their health service needs; but, just like the member for La Trobe, was a policeman's policeman before he came into this House. He knew a few things about collaring crooks, about identifying criminals, about enforcing the law. One of the things he also knew was how to find a basic truth. One of those basic truths is that Labor loves higher electricity prices. Another one is that that is bad for hospitals in rural Queensland. Higher electricity prices are bad for hospitals. They're bad for health services. They're bad for patients. They're bad for doctors. They're bad for pharmacists. That is the sort of world that the people on that side want: higher electricity prices. The consequence is that, wherever you are in Australia, if you believe in better health services, you don't believe in higher electricity prices.

We have an approach through the Prime Minister's National Energy Guarantee and the work of the Prime Minister and the energy minister in taking an axe to limited merits review, in putting the heat on the gas companies, in putting the heat on the electricity companies, in abolishing the carbon tax and in fighting Labor's new electricity taxes, which is completely the opposite of Labor's attempt to drive up electricity prices. That has been bad for the people of Wide Bay and bad for the hospitals of Wide Bay in the past and the present and will be bad in the future.

In the past, the cost of Labor's electricity tax was $2,425 per hospital bed in Queensland. That was wasted money that could have gone to better hospital services. Right now we are seeing warnings of unreliable energy this summer for Queensland and Queensland hospitals. Queensland has a 50 per cent renewable energy target and that will hurt reliability in Queensland hospitals. But none of that compares with the proposals for the future that the current Leader of the Opposition and the opposition have at federal level: a $66 billion impact on Australia's electricity prices. That translates to a $300-a-year difference between the pressures that we would put to reduce electricity prices and the amount by which they want to increase electricity prices. At the end of the day, they want higher electricity prices and that's bad for Queensland hospitals.