Wednesday, 22 August 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on the powers the government will impose to ensure big electricity companies reduce electricity prices for everyday Australians, households and businesses, and what would be the consequences for families and businesses of not implementing such measures?
Mr Champion interjecting—
Before I call the Treasurer, I will say again to the member for Wakefield that his constant conversations are preventing me from hearing the questions. I have tried to perform an educational role. I accept it's failed, but I'm not going to put up with it anymore. If he can't sit here quietly for the rest of question time, he'd better go watch it in his office. The Treasurer has the call.
I thank the member for his question. Electricity prices from 1 July have begun coming down. In the June quarter the CPI data showed that they fell by 1.3 per cent. That was the first time we had seen that for some time—the first time we'd seen a real change in electricity prices since the coalition got rid of the carbon tax which they said would never be in place. But, going forward, this is how you get electricity prices down. You put a safety net on price, as we are working and now acting to do, which removes the confusion for pensioners, for householders. It means, when they go to a standard offer, big companies can't keep it up there; it has to fall to the default price. And that means we will see savings from $183 to $416 for households and $561 to $1,475 for small and medium businesses, which on this side of the House we still believe in. On that side of the House they want to tax them out of business, every single opportunity they get.
But it's not just about putting a safety net on price. It is about the big stick. It is absolutely about the big stick. This government knows how to take a big stick to power companies, and gas companies and companies that aren't going to do the right thing by their customers or by other businesses. It was this government that changed section 46 of the competition act in favour of small business. And it's this government that has the guts to go forward and use that big stick to keep the big energy companies in line and to make sure they do what they are doing.
Those opposite don't want to do that. The shadow Treasurer does not want to have a power, if he were Treasurer, to divest companies that do the wrong thing. The Labor Party rejects the idea of having that power as a Treasurer, as a government, for where companies do the wrong thing and rip off consumers and use their vertically integrated power to actually rip off customers. This shadow Treasurer wants to sit as dormant as he did when he was minister for immigration and the boats came rolling in, one after the other, and the costs went up and the children went into detention. He will be as useless as a Treasurer as he was as the minister for immigration. There is no greater failure—but I'm sure the Leader of the Opposition will give it a go—than the shadow Treasurer was as a minister of the government. But there's a lot to compete with. There are plenty of people who sat on that side of the House who gave failure a whole new meaning, in terms of how they worked in a government that we knew was an absolute train wreck and the Australian people knew was a train wreck. And they never, ever want to go back to you.