Tuesday, 2 August 2022
Questions without Notice
LEY (—) (): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, in April when you were caught not knowing the cash rate you said:
I made a mistake. I'm human. But when I make a mistake, I'll fess up to it and I'll set about correcting that mistake. I won't blame someone else, I'll accept responsibility, that's what leaders do.
Prime Minister, given you've dumped your promise to cut power bills by $275, will you fess up and correct your mistake?
Government members interjecting—
ESE (—) (): I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for her question. I don't seek to have a point of order on irony to rule it out, given the record of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who made a bit of a mistake that led to her resignation from the front bench of the Liberal Party. But now she's back.
Reflection on a member, Mr Speaker: that was quite inappropriate. The Prime Minister should answer the specific question: does he stand by his promise on a $275 reduction or not?
The fact is that those opposite knew that power prices were going up but they kept Australians in the dark. That's what they did. They knew about the price increase in March. They hid the increase in the default retail price for electricity, which for a small businesses in New South Wales increased by up to 19.7 per cent—in New South Wales alone. This is what our policy is aimed at—and we completely stand by the modelling that we put out by RepuTex. It showed—and this isn't a difficult concept—renewables are cheaper; if you have cheaper energy inputs, you get cheaper prices. RepuTex modelled the impact of Labor's plan on rewiring the nation, our plan on other elements of the grid, including using the safeguards mechanism that was established by the Abbott government when they were in government—
No, resume your seat. I want to be very clear. I'm giving the courtesy to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition because of her title, and she's earnt that title. If I'm asking you to state a point of order, I ask you to state it and not give a statement. The Prime Minister will continue.
It's a pretty simple principle here. Everyone understands that, and no amount of bluster from those opposite will replace their failure of over a decade of inaction—over a decade of inaction. And the truth is that, if you have a plan for more renewables in the system because they are cheaper, you will have cheaper energy prices. That's what RepuTex modelled, but those opposite couldn't grasp that. That's why they produced 22 different policies, 22 shots at lowering prices and didn't nail any of them. The worst of all the ministers was the member for Hume, who failed completely and then, during an election campaign, went to the Governor-General to change the rules in order to hide the fact that prices would be going up on 1 July.
I thank the member for Chisholm for her question and congratulate her on a win. We look forward to a long and substantial contribution in this House.
The answer to dealing with rising power prices is the same as the answer to reducing emissions—that is, more renewable energy, because we know on this side of the House that clean energy is cheap energy. We know the sun doesn't send a bill, and the wind doesn't send an invoice—something that the honourable members opposite haven't worked out.
Normally, I'd say the opposition doesn't have any ideas. But, to be fair—we always try to be fair on this side—they've got one today. Their answer to rising energy prices is to put more of the most expensive form of energy, nuclear, into the system. That's their answer. That's the Leader of the Opposition's big announcement today—that he supports the most expensive form of energy available: nuclear energy. Well done, well done.
Another part of our agenda, of course, is the climate bill before the House. This is the bill which locks in our emissions reductions target, makes them the law of the land and, importantly, sends the signal to the investors around the world that the 22 failed energy policy era is over. The country has one energy policy, and it is the policy in the law of the land. There's been a very wide range of support to legislate. We've got the Business Council of Australia calling for the legislation to pass and the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors—a range of groups, from Greenpeace to Rio Tinto, are all calling for the legislation to pass. A very broad coalition is calling for the legislation to pass.
There's a very narrow coalition opposing it though, and that's the coalition opposite. After nine years of denial and delay, they want to continue. They want to keep those nine years going longer. It just goes to show that you can change the face at the front of the shop, but they're still selling the same old dud product. This is the modern Liberal Party. What you see is what you get. They haven't changed. You can change from the member for Cook to the member for Dickson—maybe you could change again—but the product hasn't changed. They still don't accept the science of climate change. They still believe in denial and delay.
The minister was asked about what the Albanese Labor government is doing to address the power prices. Instead, we've heard this unstructured spray against the record of this side of the House.
To the point of order, Mr Speaker: if I may complete the sentence that the Manager of Opposition Business cut short: 'What is the Albanese Labor government doing to address rising energy costs caused by a decade of climate and energy policy failure?' I think that makes it relevant.
Resume your seat. I understand your point. It is a question for me. Thank you for that. The question was: what is the government doing to address rising power costs given a decade of failure? I want to be clear on this. If that is the phrasing of the question, then it is entirely relevant for a minister to refer to previous decisions, to what has led to this decision. I am calling him in order.
The fact of the matter is that this is the modern Liberal Party—out of touch with the challenges of today. The biggest challenge facing our world is climate change. The biggest economic opportunity facing our nation is climate change. These guys didn't get it for nine years, and they still don't get it. You can change the face at the front of the shop; they're still selling the same old dud products.