House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Questions without Notice


3:05 pm

Photo of Julia BanksJulia Banks (Chisholm, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Energy. Will the minister update the House on how the government is creating a more affordable and reliable energy system that is so important to pensioners and those with low incomes, including in my home state of Victoria? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

Photo of Josh FrydenbergJosh Frydenberg (Kooyong, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Chisholm for her question. I know she is concerned by high power prices and the impact they are having on household budgets and, particularly, on the most vulnerable—including Jennifer, a pensioner in Burwood who, like thousands across the electorate, is struggling with her power bills. Indeed, in a recent survey in Victoria it was found that three out of four households are making financial sacrifices to meet their power bills, and one in every four households in Victoria are now cutting back on their grocery bills merely to meet their power bills.

That is why the Turnbull coalition government has taken action to deliver a more affordable and reliable power system, and I am pleased that both Alinta and Powershop have recently reduced they power prices in Victoria. There is the work we have done with the retailers to get a better deal for thousands of Australians; the work we have done with the networks to stop the gaming of the system under the limited merits review; our intervention in the gas market, which the ACCC said has seen a significant fall in the gas price; and, of course, the National Energy Guarantee, a recommendation by the independent experts that independent modelling shows will leave the average Australian household $300 a year better off than under the Labor Party's plan.

I am asked, 'Are there any alternative approaches?' Well, we know what happened when the Labor Party were last in office: electricity prices doubled, we had the carbon tax, we had the citizens' assembly and we had the cash for clunkers. That sheer incompetence will return if Labor get any chance to sit on this side of the House. We know they have reckless renewable energy targets. We know they have no plans for storage and no plans for the gas market. We know they are reluctant to get on board with the National Energy Guarantee, because they didn't support it. We also know they are waging a war on coal and blue-collar workers. Graham Richardson, a doyen of the Labor Party, got it right when he said, 'Labor is playing games with people's lives' when it comes to energy policy. The pensioners and the poor rely on good energy policy for their heat and for their electricity. Millions of Australian retirees and pensioners could not depend on the Labor Party to protect their hard-earned savings, and they cannot rely on the Labor Party to introduce good energy policy. Only the coalition will get your power bills down and ensure a more reliable energy system.