Tuesday, 4 December 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Energy. Will the minister update the House on how the government's actions to build a stronger economy are bringing down power prices without increasing taxes? How would a different approach drive up prices, including in my electorate of Robertson?
I thank the member for Robertson for her question. She knows that this government has a balanced and sensible policy for reliable and affordable electricity, including in the member for Robertson's electorate. When I was recently in Gosford in her electorate, we met with Gary, who has a smash repair business. He told me he'd been doing everything he could to get electricity prices down, but he needed to get them down further. He told me that if he could do that he could employ more apprentices and pay them more. We're changing that—we're changing that so that Gary can employ more young Australians, like the 100,000 young Australians who have been employed in recent years under this government.
This government has already delivered on lower power prices. Thanks to pressure from our government, the big energy companies have been forced to provide a better deal to their customers. From 1 January, standing-offer customers will get a better deal from AGL, Energy Australia, Origin, Alinta, Red Energy, Lumo Energy and many others. They have heard the government's calls and we're getting discounts of up to 15 per cent on standing offers, especially to those customers, those Australians, who need it most.
As we said today, this week we will introduce our big-stick legislation. Those opposite opposed this legislation before they had even seen it—legislation that will hold the big energy companies to account.
Opposition members interjecting—
Our reforms will crack down on dodgy practices, on the price gouging that the ACCC found rife in this sector—and it is true. You could join with us this week to pass this legislation, because the price gouging must go—the loyalty tax must go. That's why the legislation will extend to contract orders and asset divestiture, as we see in other countries. It's absolutely astonishing that those opposite are siding with the big energy companies. It must be because they want higher electricity prices, just as they want a 45 per cent emissions reduction target, a target that will be a wrecking ball through the economy, a target that will mean 105 grams per kilometre for vehicles, when Toyota Hiluxes are at 200 and Ford Rangers at 234. We are the party of lower electricity prices and a strong economy.
My question is to the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister deny reports that a significant delegation of government members urged the government to abandon its discredited divestment policy, including the member for Curtin and the members for Reid, McMillan and Mackellar? Given the Prime Minister has already turned his big stick into a toothpick, will the Prime Minister now abandon his discredited divestment laws, which even his own members do not support?
That's something, coming from the biggest wet newspaper in the parliament. This is the form of 'Blue Steel' over there, striking a pose with his sharp suits and his slick look, swaggering around the electorate, measuring up the curtains to the Treasurer's suite, thinking he's already there. This is a shadow Treasurer who, when he was Treasurer, was presiding over economic wreckage and a budget that was forever in deficit. That was his form when he was the Treasurer of this country. But we also know that he had a few other jobs when he was in government. He had a few other jobs, and I'll come back to those after I've had the opportunity to address what the member has addressed.
Our government is supporting tough new laws to ensure that the big electricity companies are held to account, and we would call on the Labor Party when those laws are introduced to support them and to do so this week. Failure to do so will tell every single electricity customer in Australia today that the Labor Party is for higher electricity prices and letting the big electricity companies off the hook. Our government is united on the issue of getting electricity prices down. We are united on standing up for Australians, who do not want to see higher electricity bills that would be brought about by a 45 per cent emissions reduction target. We are united on the point of ensuring that those big electricity companies are held to account for what they do to Australian customers. That's what we'll be bringing into this House. And you'll have plenty of opportunity—and my challenge to the Labor Party is this: Whose side are you on? Are you on the side of Australia's electricity customers, who want lower prices, or are you on the side of the big electricity companies, which want to take the money for themselves?