Thursday, 17 February 2022
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction. Will the minister update the House on the importance of the Morrison government ensuring we have adequate and certain dispatchable capacity to keep the lights on and power prices down, and is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?
I thank the member for Moncrieff for her question and her resolute focus on affordable, reliable energy for the households and 34,000 businesses in her electorate. She knows that we need adequate dispatchable capacity balancing the record levels of investment we're seeing in renewables and record levels of solar on people's roofs. With that dispatchable capacity from energy sources like hydro and gas, balance is the key. As old generators retire, they need to be replaced with appropriate like-for-like generation.
That's why, today, we saw a disappointing decision from Origin, particularly for the workers in the Lake Macquarie region. But it also means that that focus on dispatchable generation is more important than ever. We'll work with the New South Wales government and the private sector to make sure that balance remains in the market and that affordable, reliable energy is there. We're already getting on with it. We're delivering the Hunter Valley's Kurri Kurri project. We're delivering Snowy 2. We're supporting Tallawarra B in the Illawarra. We're supporting the Port Kembla gas generator. We're supporting all the major transmission projects across the national electricity market, with $500 million of investment. We're supporting a new dispatchable capacity mechanism into the national supporting electricity market. But I am asked about alternatives.
We have a plan to deliver affordable, reliable power. Those opposite don't. They are more interested in their own ideology than the interests of Australians. When they were last in government they teamed up with the Greens, put in place a carbon tax and doubled electricity prices. We've seen in the last couple of years an eight per cent reduction in household bills, a 10 per cent reduction in small-business bills and a 12 per cent reduction in industry bills, while those opposite doubled them.
The member for McMahon doesn't know the difference between a retail price and a wholesale price. At the end of last year he put his modelling out and assumed every coal-fired generator was going to stay on until their previously announced closure dates. It's all bunkum from those opposite! There's no plan for dispatchable power. They opposed the Kurri Kurri generator, and then backflipped and doubled the costs. They've opposed the billion-dollar Grid Reliability Fund. They plan to vote against the Underwriting New Generation Investments program, which was recommended by the ACCC. And we know they're prepared to team up with the Greens to make sure there are no new gas projects in this country. They are happy to keep people hot in summer and cold in winter. We'll get on with the focus on affordable reliable energy for all Australians.