Tuesday, 4 December 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister agree with the recently retired former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said today, 'At the moment, the cost of intermittent renewable generation is coming down dramatically with improvements in technology, as indeed is the cost of battery storage, so it's hardly surprising that new coal-fired generation simply cannot compete'?
What I do know is that there's some $15 billion of investment going into electricity generation and power generation in this country, including record amounts of investment that are going into renewable energy technologies, and I think that's a good thing. I think that's a very good thing. We have a 26 per cent emissions reduction target which sets out very clearly our plan and our policy, backed in by initiatives which mean that we have the lowest rate of emissions per capita in 28 years. So we're meeting our emissions reduction target. We're actually putting in place the policies—which is already getting results—of the big energy companies, reducing their electricity prices particularly for the most vulnerable customers, and we will continue to support policies that achieve those outcomes. We are doing that through a number of measures which, first of all, ensure a safety net, which is a default price to stop price gouging. We want the price gouging from the big electricity companies to stop. We are putting measure in place, recommended by the ACCC, to achieve just that. We will be introducing, as the energy minister and the Treasurer have outlined, our legislation to make available to the government a big stick to deal with the big energy companies.
Opposition members interjecting—
I hear them mock and jeer every time we mention the fact that we are prepared to actually take on the big energy companies. Mock all you like, jeer and sneer and all the rest of it, but understand this: every time you say this, you are thumbing your nose at the Australian customers of energy in this country.
Mr Hart interjecting—
You are saying that the Labor Party are choosing the big energy companies over the energy customers—households, mums, dads, pensioners—of this country. We're not afraid to say we will take a big stick to the energy companies. We're not afraid to say we will put this legislation in the parliament. We're not afraid to say we will put these powers in place to even up the score for electricity customers. What I do know is that the Labor Party will continue to oppose this legislation. They do not want the powers introduced into this parliament that will enable us to even up the score for customers. As a result, they will run away with the energy companies and coalesce with them and cuddle up to them.
But I can tell you that our government won't. When we have met with the electricity companies we've had one simple message: drop your prices; bring them down. That's what the Australian people want. That's what their customers want. As their profits have increased, their prices have increased for their customers. We don't think that's fair, and we think it should change. We're going to introduce legislation into this parliament which puts pressure on the energy companies to do the right thing by their customers. The Labor Party are going to oppose it. They should be ashamed of themselves.