House debates

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Ministerial Statements


9:43 am

Photo of Angus TaylorAngus Taylor (Hume, Liberal Party, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—Today I rise to address the House on the Australian government's comprehensive plan to drive down energy prices for all Australians as we reduce emissions.

On this side of the House, we understand that it is access to low-cost energy that underpins the economic security of all Australians, because our energy sector not only is a critical export for Australia but underpins our domestic competitiveness—competitiveness in areas like manufacturing that supports 850,000 jobs in Australia.

For every petajoule of energy that we consume domestically, we generate over $300 million in GDP. Energy should be plentiful, it should be reliable and, most of all, it should be affordable. It is the foundation upon which this great country has been built. Affordable, reliable energy provides employment and opportunity across all sectors and regions—for tradies, farmers, hospitality workers and manufacturing workers, among others. As we make our way out of the crisis, access to affordable reliable energy will fuel our industries, create jobs and relieve the financial pressure on families.

We have a comprehensive plan for recovery, reform and resilience—a plan that will give rise to the next chapter in our national story; a plan that focuses on technology not taxes; a plan that enables choice for consumers, not constraints; a plan that only a Liberal-National government is capable of delivering.

Australia was, is and always will be an energy superpower; it is who we are and what we do. We are blessed with abundant natural resources. Coal, derided by many of those opposite, has provided generations of Australian workers with a good income and a comfortable home. To this day, it is the lifeblood of towns throughout rural and regional Australia. It has powered our industries and lifted millions of men, women and children out of absolute poverty.

We are one of the largest exporters of gas in the world, and an important and trusted supplier of uranium. The royalties and taxes they have provided have built our school and roads, trained our doctors and nurses, and helped protect our borders.

We are opening up new opportunities such as hydrogen, and cementing Australia's position as a world leader in renewables. We are seeing record investment in renewables, with an incredible 6.3 gigawatts of renewables capacity delivered in 2019—a number that looks set to be repeated this year. Thirty billion dollars has been invested in the sector since 2017. According to the Clean Energy Regulator, Australia is investing roughly 10 times the average of industrial countries and four or five times the next highest level of investment. This is an extraordinary outcome.

Those opposite talk Australia down. Arguing that investment has fallen is ill-informed and misleading. They seek to talk down Australia's renewables achievements.. As the CER itself has stated, this story of the collapse in renewables has been around for a couple of years. But, in our view, it is not true. While the government is getting on with implementing our energy plan, the Leader of the Opposition peddles falsehoods.

We're delivering a record level of investment in wind and solar, which is creating benefits as well as challenges. We must back it up. That's why we're building the largest pumped hydro project in the Southern Hemisphere.

It is this government that committed to and commissioned Snowy 2.0, it is this government that established a $1 billion Grid Reliability Fund and it is this government that is fast-tracking every major priority transmission project in AEMO's integrated system plan.

We must have a realistic policy framework that enables us to deliver the energy that Australians want. I am pleased that this side of the House has been clear and consistent in our energy plan—a plan that we have been implementing and a plan that has been working.


I am happy to report that prices have been coming down for some time. The most recent CPI energy figures show more reductions in energy prices. We have now seen seven straight quarters of CPI electricity price reductions compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year. We have now had 13 straight months of wholesale electricity price reductions, and I am confident that will soon be 14. Prices have fallen by up to 48 per cent over this time across the National Electricity Market and are now at levels that have not been seen since 2014.

It's no coincidence that those 13 months follow the government's introduction of the big-stick legislation. Legislation that has brought important accountability into the energy market, a market that continues to be dominated by a small number of players. The reforms we have delivered—like abolishing the loyalty tax through our default market offer and taking action on sneaky late payment fees—are delivering real savings for consumers.

But reform to the market is not the only thing that this government has achieved. It was this government that had the courage to put customers first. It was this government that doesn't shy away from the hard decisions that will protect Australians.

Nowhere is this better seen than in our response to the Liddell taskforce. The modelling through that taskforce was clear. If Liddell isn't replaced with dispatchable capacity, then prices rise. We have seen this in the closure of the Northern Power Station in South Australia. We have seen it with the closure of Hazelwood in Victoria. When this happens, it is the consumer who loses and the vested interests win.

We as a government will not let that happen. That would be a sledgehammer to industry. It would drive price hikes not seen since the introduction of the carbon tax. This government considered this problem—the Liddell issue—in detail and we have taken a principled approach. We did the work and we've set the clear target for 1,000 megawatts for the private sector and if they step up, we'll step back. Ultimately this is the private sector's responsibility, and we will only step up, if the private sector steps back. I welcome the strong support from local members on our plan—including from those opposite.

We, as a government, understand the gaps in the energy market and we're addressing them. Transmission projects are complex and difficult to get started, however there are strong business cases amongst the projects we see. That is why we have invested over $300m in early works for interconnection and over $117 m in microgrids. We have already invested in 18 microgrid projects across 70 regional communities and we will invest in many more through a refunded ARENA.

We are progressing every remaining priority project in the ISP. We are working closely with the governments of Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. We know that if the business case is strong, private sector investment will be forthcoming. Our funding will bring forward key projects like Marinus Link in Tasmania, VNI West in Victoria, PEC in South Australia and CopperString in Queensland. This builds on QNI and HumeLink in New South Wales.

These projects form the backbone of our electricity network. We have created a plan that is integrated and will protect all Australians from the kind of shocks to the electricity system that Labor governments in South Australia and Victoria have overseen.

Emission r eductions

It is this government that smashed our 2020 Kyoto target. It is this government that has outlined how we will meet and beat Paris and it is only this side of the House that is compliant with Australia's international obligations. Let me be clear: the Paris Agreement requires a Nationally Determined Contribution which is a 2030 target.

When those opposite can only commit to a target three decades from now, what they are saying is: it's all too hard. It's too hard to cost their policies, it's too hard to outline what technologies will get them there and it's too hard to balance the views of the member for Hindmarsh with the rest of the Labor Party. What they also won't tell you is that to meet their 2050 target they will need around a 43 per cent target by 2030. Labor is all at sea on emissions.

It is this government that is taking the Paris Agreement seriously and being transparent. The last budget built on our strong track record with $1.9 billion in new investment in clean technology. With a refunded ARENA. With a technology investment roadmap that will guide $70 billion of investment in the technologies that we must develop to reduce our emissions. It's a budget that invests in the technologies we need. Hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, green steel and aluminium, energy storage and soil carbon.

The government's plan has three key focuses – lower emissions, lower costs and more jobs. Getting the technologies of the future right in Australia will support 130,000 jobs by 2030, and avoid in the order of 250 million tonnes of emissions by 2040.

If these technologies achieve widespread deployment globally, they will significantly reduce emissions from energy, transport, agriculture and heavy industry. These sectors account for 90 per cent of global emissions and emit 45 billion tonnes each year.

Australia should be proud of our achievements. We should be proud of the fact that we are a world leader in energy, including renewables. We should be proud of the fact that we are one of a very small group of nations that have met all their international obligations. And we will achieve this while supporting our key domestic sectors, like mining, agriculture and manufacturing.


The government backs the gas industry, backs Australians who use gas and it backs the 850,000 Australians who rely on gas for a job in manufacturing. The manufacturing sector alone relies on gas for over 40 per cent of its energy needs.

Gas is a critical enabler of Australia's economy. It supports our manufacturing sector, is an essential input in the production of plastics for PPE and fertiliser for food our production.

In 2019, we overtook Qatar to be the largest LNG exporter in the world, with an export value of $49 billion each year.

Our LNG sector directly employs over 28,000 people, approximately half of whom are located in regional areas and support jobs such as drillers, machinery operators, truck drivers and surveyors to name a few. Gas also provides the firmed generation that we need to balance the record levels of increased supply from solar and wind. However, we know more needs to be done to secure our future gas market. AEMO have identified that more investment is needed to avoid the risk of shortfall in the southern states by 2024.

We have already taken steps to address this. It is this government that has secured supply through the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism. It is this government that introduced the Day Ahead Auction scheme that has unlocked spare capacity in our pipeline market. We have seen real price reductions on the back of these reforms.

These prices have fallen by 54 per cent in second quarter of 2020, compared to the same time last year which follows significant reductions before COVID. The AER has also found that spot gas prices were at their lowest levels in four years.

Our 13-point plan in the budget focuses on three key action areas: unlocking supply, efficient transportation, and empowering consumers. This government will secure a future gas market that is attractive for gas development and investment. This will allow us to remain one of the top LNG exporters. We will ensure that long-term domestic gas contract prices are internationally competitive to support our manufacturing and industrial sectors. We will ensure that there is sufficient new gas generation to maintain a reliable grid.

We have demonstrated through the Snowy project at Kurri Kurri that the Morrison government doesn't bluff. Our National Gas Infrastructure Plan will identify the major priorities for investment. If we don't see the investment that we need to keep our gas market strong then we will act. This could include underwriting projects, streamlining regulation, or the establishment of a special purpose vehicle with a capped government contribution.

We will deliver a transparent and competitive gas trading system through improving our most strategically located and connected gas trading hub – Wallumbilla – as the Australian gas hub. We will build on the 70 petajoules of extra gas secured as part of the NSW energy deal through deals with the Northern Territory, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. These deals when combined with the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia's five strategic basic plans will provide the supply we need.

Earlier this month I was in the Northern Territory to discuss an energy deal and to visit the Beetaloo basin. It is a development that this government has backed and one we will work closely with the NT government to ensure that it happens. I can update the House that we are also well progressed on an energy deal with South Australia and we are making strong progress on joint projects with Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia.

Fuel Security

The third pillar of our comprehensive JobMaker energy plan is focused on boosting Australia's long-term fuel security. It is a plan that acknowledges that the future will be different from the past, one that realises the economic benefits of having a domestic capability moving forward, a capability that other fuel dependent industries, such as our farmers, truckers, miners and tradies, rely on. It will enhance Australia's national security and protect Australian motorists from higher prices. Our plan has three key elements:

1. investing $200 million to build new diesel storage,

2. creating a minimum onshore stockholding obligation to safeguard key transport fuels,

3. backing our local refining sector through a production payment in recognition of the fuel security benefits that refineries provide Australia.

The events of 2020 have reminded us that we cannot be complacent. The government cannot predict international market forces but through our fuel security package we will create 1,000 new jobs and build the sector of the future.


This government has delivered a comprehensive plan that will deliver lower prices and deliver the jobs that Australians want. It's a plan that will help us grow in a COVID recovery. It's a plan that will deliver the projects and investments that Australia needs. Only this government can be trusted to deliver the clear, responsible plan that, in turn, will deliver affordable, reliable energy for all Australians.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order?

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

Yes, thanks, Mr Speaker. I didn't want to interrupt at any point during the statement, and the minister had followed the protocol of providing the speech in advance. The point of order goes to ministerial statements. Effectively, I'm seeking either a statement immediately from the chair or one that you can reflect on and report back to the House.

When a statement is given by leave, normally leave means the standing orders are set aside. Ministerial statements are an exception to that, as you know, Mr Speaker, in that leave activates certain standing orders for a ministerial statement. Practice is quite clear. It's sort of the opposite of question time. In question time there are lots of restrictions on what you can put in the question—

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Not enough, I think, but anyway.

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

and with an answer there is a fair bit of freedom to compare and contrast. Ministerial statements are quite specific about government policy, and three different references in Practice with that. I think for future ministerial statements it would be helpful for all concerned—particularly given these are fully prepared speeches and therefore difficult at the last minute to run a point of order and expect the minister to modify them—if you could either immediately or at a later point make clear to the House the expectations on ministerial statements.

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the Manager of Opposition Business. I'll do it now. I also was loath to interrupt the minister. I think it is worth pointing out how and why ministerial statements occur. They used to occur far more frequently. Leave is sought and leave must be granted. When leave is granted, leave is automatically granted to the opposition—either to the Leader of the Opposition or the relevant shadow minister. The convention is that copies are provided in advance and that the member responding from the opposition has the same time, so everyone can relax, we're not taking up his time.

The purpose of a ministerial statement is to announce government policy or matters for which the minister concerned is responsible. There is no flexibility, tolerance or capacity to talk about anything other than that. I'm just pointing that out to the minister and to the House for all future ministerial statements. That is, you can't talk about the opposition or anything else. It is a ministerial statement; it is not a political statement. That is really all I need to say. It's outlined very clearly and very concisely in the Practice. As I think you pointed out, there are three references to it. Essentially it's the same reference in three different parts on that matter. I hope that clarifies things, and I will now call the member for Hindmarsh and shadow minister to speak for the equivalent time.

10:05 am

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

We've had to wait until this minister's third year for him to make a statement, and all the statement confirmed was, firstly, how utterly bare this government's cupboard is of energy policy and, secondly, everyone's suspicion, already pretty well founded, that this minister is without a doubt the worst energy minister in living memory. I've been in this portfolio for several years, and I've worked with his predecessors, Ian Macfarlane, now at the QRC, and the now Treasurer. These were people with whom I regularly disagreed on policy but people—Ian and the Treasurer—who were well renowned for being able to work across the aisle in the national interest. I did that with both of them in a constructive way, but this minister, according to all reports, finds it difficult even to work with his own colleagues, let alone work across the aisle. At the end of the day it reflects pretty poorly on this Prime Minister that he decided, after the election particularly, after the hullabaloo of the coup against Malcolm Turnbull was all over, to keep this minister in this portfolio. We've got an incompetent ideologue, weighed down by a seemingly endless litany of scandals, in this portfolio at a time of the biggest transformation in the global energy sector in living memory.

This is the minister's third year in his job, and he's delivered just two things. He told us today he's delivered the Grid Reliability Fund, but we haven't even begun debate on that legislation in this House. He told us he's delivered the refunding of ARENA, and we thank him for that, though it's a body that this government spent years and years trying to abolish. He tells us that he's delivered an Integrated System Plan, a plan he described a couple of weeks ago as 'transmission lines to nowhere'. In truth, the only two things this minister has delivered are a grant of almost $9 million to the operator of the Vales Point coal-fired power station and a grant of almost $4 million to Shine Energy, a company that's never delivered any project whatsoever and a grant which has been referred to and is being investigated by the Auditor-General—a grant that was announced before the department had even bothered to ask this company to apply for a grant to be able to conduct its own feasibility study into its own project.

But, to be fair to this minister, he never claimed to have any ambition to achieve anything positive in this sector. This minister was elected on a platform of stopping stuff, and he spent all his time as a backbencher advocating the stopping of stuff. This minister only believes in one thing in the energy portfolio, and that is to stop the expansion of renewable energy. This minister, before he was elected and as a backbencher, was, as we all know, the poster child of Alan Jones's anti-windfarm rallies, and later on, along with Tony Abbott, the member for Hughes, the member for New England and a whole bunch of other fellow members of that clique within the coalition party room, he ambushed the then Prime Minister, the then Treasurer—now Prime Minister—and the then energy minister—now Treasurer—and killed off the National Energy Guarantee. This was a policy that had been sought by this government, recommended to this government and supported by every single state government in the country, Labor and Liberal alike. It was supported by every business group and described by the now Prime Minister as the policy which had the greatest level of consensus he had ever seen in his time in the parliament. It was a policy which the now Prime Minister and the now Treasurer said would save households $550, but because it countenanced the expansion of some renewable energy it was ambushed and killed off by this minister when he was a junior.

Well, they got their wish. The NEG is gone—the last chance of an enduring bipartisan energy policy coming out of this parliament for the benefit of the nation. They got their wish. But, like the dog that finally caught the car, this minister has had no idea what to do next. His first obligation, of course, was to report back to his mentor, Alan Jones. He did that within a couple of days of being appointed minister for energy, and he reiterated to Alan his absolute commitment to stopping more solar and wind. He said to Alan, 'There's too much solar and wind in this system,' and under him there would be no more. Of course, investor confidence collapsed, but that didn't bother the minister, because he said, 'A government should not even try to boost investor confidence.' God forbid that would be the role of a government in a mixed private-public economy. His plan, instead, was to set up a policy, which he gives the fancy name 'Underwriting New Generation Investments'—a policy he didn't refer much to in his statement—to be able to pick his own pet projects. There were no guidelines, there was no transparency, and, as has been pointed out by a number of these operators, there was no actual delivery, except for a grant, as I said, to the Vales Point coal-fired power station.

In spite of the minister's best efforts to abolish Renewable Energy Target, along with those fellow travellers several years ago, there was a final burst of investment in renewable energy over the last several years as the Renewable Energy Target legislation tapered off. But there is a clear policy vacuum for investors, a policy vacuum business groups, and obviously the industry, complain about regularly. Even worse than a vacuum, they have a situation where there's no investment framework coming out of this parliament and a policy that says that, at any moment, this minister will issue a media release saying that he intends to put taxpayer funds behind one of his pet projects, which might end up competing with a private investment. In contrast to what the minister said, after the Renewable Energy Target tapered off last year, the Reserve Bank made it clear that investment had collapsed by 50 per cent.

This minister talks about installations. Of course installations were still going strongly last year. They are a lagging indicator of financial decisions made two years earlier. The Reserve Bank and the industry itself said that investment decisions have collapsed, because after the Renewable Energy Target was completed there was an utter policy vacuum. This minister might try to pretend otherwise. The Reserve Bank of Australia made that point last year before COVID-19. The University of Technology Sydney has said that, because of that policy vacuum, 11,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector will be lost over the coming two years because of the lack of an investment framework. At a time when we need the creation of new jobs, in a sector that, around the world, is seeing investments created by the hundreds and hundreds of thousands, jobs are going backwards under this minister because of his ideology.

To cover up this abysmal lack of delivery, a few weeks ago we saw a week of announcements. This Prime Minister is good at announcements. He is very, very good at announcements. One of them was the Technology Investment Roadmap—a document that included some good things. It included, for example, a focus on hydrogen. We had a hydrogen policy last year at the election; the government then described hydrogen as snake oil. We're glad to see that they have changed their view about that. Hydrogen is something that I think this parliament as a whole can get behind. But there were some inexplicable details in this technology road map. Bioenergy: where members talk so much about regional Australia, you'd think this would be an area they would support strongly. Bioenergy was utterly missing from this technology road map, but of course nuclear energy was in. Bioenergy out, nuclear energy in.

Energy efficiency was described as an emerging technology. The International Energy Agency describes it as the first fuel. Around the world we see energy efficiency as the best way of driving down power bills and energy bills more generally, the best way of creating new jobs. We see this in the UK, in other parts of Europe, in the United States and, increasingly, in developing countries like China. But, for this minister, energy efficiency, in one of the most energy-inefficient economies in the world, is just an emerging technology. Of course, after their ridiculous, hysterical campaign last year, electric vehicles simply warrant a watching brief. We'll just watch what's happening all around the world. In this document there are no timetables; no milestones; and some really weird, inexplicable detail. It is all announcement, no delivery.

The centrepiece of this government's economic recovery strategy—the so-called gas-fired recovery—was hyped up over several months, puffed up over several months. When the document finally came out, it was full of spin and was light as a feather on substance. First of all, this gas-fired recovery document that was released by the government does absolutely nothing to resolve the crisis that has emerged under this government and been in place for years. It talks about spot prices and contract prices during the COVID pandemic. The prices paid by Australian manufacturers have tripled under this government. According to the ACCC, companies have closed under this government because of the gas prices. Contract prices have not come down. They are still at three times their historical prices, threatening the viability of thousands of manufacturing jobs, and this announcement did nothing to resolve it.

Indeed we've heard this week, with the release of a discussion paper that deals with the export controls that we have been advocating for for years to back the interests of Australian manufacturers and Australian households and see less of our gas shipped oversea so that it's reliably and affordably supplied to Australian users, already they are crab walking away from that. That's what we read in the Financial Reviewthey are backing the big gas companies again over the interests of Australian manufacturers, Australian workers and Australian households.

The most extraordinary thing about this gas-fired recovery announcement is you cannot point to a single job that will be created in the time frame we require—the next year or two. There's not a single job that you can point to in that document. Not only does the so-called gas-fired recovery fail to deliver any recovery; it is completely out of touch with the clear message being given by all business groups, investors, lenders and central banks here in Australia and all around the world, and that is that economic recovery pathways out of this COVID pandemic and the recessions that are being driven by the pandemic should be paved with clean energy.

The Business Council, the Australian Industry Group, the big banks, the big insurers and the super funds here in Australia have all said the economic recovery pathway must be aligned with a national commitment to net zero emissions by 2050. It's just the smart thing to do. Two big challenges facing our nation should be dealt with together. You can deal with them together because paving the pathway out of this recession with clean energy is the smartest way to create jobs. In contrast to the gas-fired recovery that delivers not a single job, the Clean Energy Council makes it clear that renewable energy projects that already have planning approval and would be ready to go and ready to be built if they had an investment framework that would accommodate them are ready to create 50,000 real jobs now.

But, of course, this government won't commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 because the only thing this minister hates more than renewable energy is climate action. He described climate change in this House as:

The new climate religion … has little basis on fact and everything to do with blind faith.

Again, he was making it very clear where he stands on this seismic challenge to Australia. So, even though net zero emissions by 2050 is required by the Paris Agreement that this government signed Australia up to, even though it's required and dictated by all scientific advice about what we need to do for the interests of future generations, even though it's supported and committed to by all state governments—Labor and Liberal alike—federal Labor, every business group, the biggest mining company, the biggest bank, the biggest telecommunications provider and all of the big insurers and investors in this country, even though CSIRO modelling used all the time by the New South Wales Liberal government shows that net zero emissions by 2050 will deliver higher wages, stronger economic growth and lower power bills, that's not good enough for this minister and this Prime Minister.

The performance of this government on climate change is abysmal. The Climate Change Performance Index that ranks the biggest 56 producers of greenhouse gases in the world consistently ranks Australia under this Liberal government outside the top 50. It can't even make the top 50 of 56. That plummeted obviously under Tony Abbott when he was Prime Minister, but it hasn't recovered under either Prime Minister Turnbull or the current Prime Minister because, although the marketing and spin might have changed, this government has kept the business model of Tony Abbott. It's absolutely kept true to it. There is no better evidence of that than the fact that this minister holds this portfolio.

We also see its failure in the emissions data that the government itself publishes. The latest data was published only a few months ago in August. What it shows is this: in the six-year period of the last Labor government, emissions came down by 15 per cent. They came down 15 per cent in six years. In the six years of this government, emissions have come down by one per cent. That's one per cent in six years. It will take 600 years to get to net zero emissions under this government's current rate of emissions cuts. The Prime Minister and the minister again today said, 'We smashed the Kyoto protocol target.' Well, the Kyoto protocol required us to cut emissions by five per cent and the government's own data shows that we're well short of that. They try to employ the overachievement during the Labor years, driven by policies that they strongly opposed, but what is clear is emissions have flatlined under this government.

The second falsehood that this Prime Minister continues to put to the Australian people is that we'll meet and beat our Paris target of 26 per cent by 2030. It should have been a walk in the park, given the trajectory we were on under the last Labor government, but, again, the government's own projections published last Christmas by the government, not by me, show very clearly we are way, way off track. According to those projections in December 2019, between 2020 and 2030, on this government's policies, for a whole decade we'll cut emissions by four per cent. It will take us 230 years at that rate to get to net zero emissions. By 2030, according to their data, we'll be at 16 per cent—not 26 per cent. That was confirmed again this week by RepuTex.

When the Prime Minister says: 'We're meeting and beating the Kyoto targets. We're meeting and beating the Paris targets.' he is deliberately misleading the Australian people. I'm not just saying that. His own data says it, and the experience of the last six or seven years under this government shows it too.

This active opposition and this campaigning against climate action is obviously important for its own sake. Climate change poses a deep, mortal threat to our security and our prosperity today. We will see that when the bushfire royal commission is finally released. We saw it from the drought coordinator's report 12 months ago when he said that climate change is driving more frequent, more intense droughts that affect parts of the country that haven't been traditionally prone to drought. We will see exactly that advice, I'm sure, from the bushfire royal commission.

It's a threat to security and prosperity that we're already seeing play out. It's a threat that will only become deeper for our children, our grandchildren and generations of Australians beyond, if we don't act. But it's also deeply irresponsible and negligent, because there is a race on around the world. There is a race for investment and job creation in the transformation of the global economy to a clean energy economy. And that is a race that Australia should be leading. We have the best solar resources on the planet and some of the best wind resources on the planet. If we harness that with a policy framework of the type you see in so many other democracies around the world, we will be not a renewable energy super power but the renewable energy superpower. If there as ever an opportunity for the Liberal Party to break from the Tony Abbott business model on climate change and energy policy, this pandemic was it. Investors want them to do it. Business groups want them to do it. The community and trading partners want them to do it. It's the right path for Australia. It's a path that should be paved with renewable energy, but they clearly haven't taken it.

We just heard a ministerial statement full of the fatuous ideological claptrap we have come to expect from him. But, indeed, the clearest possible evidence that this Prime Minister has decided to double down on Tony Abbott's agenda is the fact that this minister is still in his job.