House debates

Monday, 6 March 2023

Private Members' Business


10:45 am

Photo of Peta MurphyPeta Murphy (Dunkley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that the Government is:

(a) taking responsible and decisive action to take some of the edge off energy price rises; and

(b) responding to the energy price rise the previous Minister for Energy hid from the Australian people during the election; and

(2) acknowledges:

(a) that recent energy price rise forecasts were lower than previously predicted; and

(b) power prices are lower than they otherwise would be because of the steps the Government is taking.

We all know that events around the world have impacted domestic energy prices. The war in Ukraine disrupted supply chains and increased international demand for gas has meant that Australian households and businesses have to contend with higher power prices. And we know the impact on people in our communities. The cost of this is absolutely clear. That is why last year the government urgently recalled parliament, so we could act, not just talk but act, to take some of the sting out of higher power prices.

This government wants to help families, to support small businesses and to save Australian manufacturers. We know that it will take some time for all of the benefits to fully flow through, but there are encouraging signs that our action is starting to work, and if anyone doubts that let me remind the chamber of the AEMO quarterly report which said:

Following these announcements, ASX Cal23 electricity futures prices fell steeply for each of the mainland states through to the end of the Quarter, with prices dropping between 41% in South Australia and 46% in Queensland from the end of Q3 22. The expectation and then announcement of government intervention through the quarter saw reductions in futures prices for later years similar to those for Cal23 across the mainland regions.

There is a Treasury analysis where the comparison of 2023 wholesale electricity prices in November, before the plan was released, with the prices in December, after the plan was released, shows that forecast wholesale prices for 2023 dropped by 44 per cent in Queensland, 38 per cent in New South Wales, 32 per cent in South Australia and 29 per cent in Victoria. And we all know that at the end of January Shell announced an EOI process for eight PJ of gas to be delivered in 2023. We have seen reductions in the price increases that were forecast. This is a key indicator that the steps the government has taken, and is taking, are having an impact.

Every member of this place had a choice when they voted in December on the government's bill to combat climbing energy prices. They had a choice to help Australians with rising energy bills or to make it even harder for them. And if those opposite, the members of the Liberal and National Party, had their way households would be paying $230 more on their power bills than they would otherwise have to—without an extra cent of support.

Our government believes that Australian households and small businesses deserve support. We believe that Australian manufacturing deserves a future and that's what we are delivering for families and pensioners, for small businesses and for large manufacturers.

My state of Victoria has almost two-thirds of homes using gas so there is quite an impact by current prices. My community has been hit. There is no doubt about it. Locals from Frankston, Josh and Emily, told the Herald Sun that with their two kids and renovating their house they bought two years ago and the increase in their gas bills it has been hard. And like good Frankstonians they are concerned not just for themselves but others. They said:

We both have good jobs. Essentially we're going to be fine, but what about the elderly or single parents working two jobs? We have to be incredibly frugal and the price of gas and the price of fuel adds to the anxiety.

These are real people in my electorate whom the opposition tried to block providing direct energy bill relief to—real people, not just some sort of debating point; real people. After overseeing a decade of energy policy chaos, the opposition voted against action on power prices to help people like Josh and Emily.

It's not an overnight fix—of course it's not—but we've started to do the work, and more needs to be done. We're investing $25 billion in reducing emissions, in clean energy and in market stability; $20 billion in the Rewiring the Nation plan to upgrade Australia's electricity grid; and in 400 community batteries across the country, including one in Carrum Downs in my electorate. We are working to help lower electricity bills, reduce pressure on the grid and lower emissions. This government is going to continue to do everything it can to shield Australian households and businesses from the worst impacts. It's just a shame that the oppositional opposition can't get on with joining us to do so.

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Dunkley. Is the motion seconded?

Photo of Matt BurnellMatt Burnell (Spence, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

10:51 am

Photo of Zoe DanielZoe Daniel (Goldstein, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Dunkley, my near neighbour in bayside Melbourne, for moving this motion. I'm particularly pleased to speak today about a project that has been launched in Goldstein that seeks to enable community participation in the energy space at a time when both the cost and the environmental impact of energy consumption makes this an urgent conversation.

Village Zero represents action—climate action, community action, local action, personal action—bringing people together to create and implement a shared vision for a reimagined low-carbon village where human needs coexist with those of the planet. This vision that our community has brought to fruition truly represents the values that we all share. It aims to reduce emissions, make homes more efficient, increase our capacity for renewables and reduce waste, and it does all of this while encouraging creativity, celebrating diversity and fostering the feeling of community—of belonging—that we all associate with 'Sandy Village' and Goldstein.

Village Zero came about as a result of discussions before last year's election. When I spoke to groups around the electorate, they wanted to do something, but there was an evident need to facilitate that doing. That effort involved bringing together the Sandringham Traders Association and local philanthropic groups like Uncommon Folk and Regen Melbourne, which are looking at ways to create systems change to get things done to benefit people and the planet. The early phases of Village Zero have also included discussions with the Bayside and Glen Eira councils, and I want to thank everyone involved in that process for their willingness to collaborate and their motivation to serve not only their residents but their land and sea as well. Together, we've created action, we've created optimism, and together we will create change.

My formative years as a reporter were spent in Lismore, and I covered big floods in the Northern Rivers before heading overseas, where I reported on floods, fires and storms across the world. With our already extreme climate and minimal investment from previous governments, we as a nation face huge risks ahead. But the opportunity is vast, and that opportunity, that optimism, is central to Village Zero. We are all part of the solution: a commitment to broader, forward-focused climate policy to reduce emissions and embrace renewable energy. Village Zero sets an example.

Part of this project revolves around community energy. In December, as previously mentioned, the government announced the $200 million Community Batteries for Household Solar Program in order to deliver secure and affordable energy as we ramp up renewable generation. We need more energy storage distributed into the community to achieve this. The battery network will store locally generated solar power and reuse it within the community, helping out in the evening energy peak. In the longer term, the aim is that this will reduce the pressure on the electricity grid, drive down power prices and help us to help the planet.

In conjunction with Village Zero, my team has begun working with Bayside council, the Australian National University battery storage and grid integration team, Acacia Energy and Renew Melbourne. Together, we're now working on a bid to ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and we'll begin the community consultation in coming weeks so that we can involve and obtain feedback from the community to play a part in the energy market and to create a repeatable battery network that could be implemented in communities around the country. Also coming up is our Home Energy Efficiency Expo, in partnership with Bayside council, in March at Brighton Town Hall. This will provide a concrete opportunity for people to explore ways to electrify their homes.

There is a lot happening in this space and a lot to be inspired by. One key to fighting climate change is community action and I'm thankful that we have so much commitment from within our community to reduce both the cost of energy and the damage energy consumption does to our environment.

10:55 am

Photo of Fiona PhillipsFiona Phillips (Gilmore, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak today about the Albanese government's Energy Price Relief Plan. As the member for Gilmore, I'm already hearing about the benefits of the Energy Price Relief Plan when I speak to families and small businesses on the New South Wales South Coast. We all know that power prices have been a major concern for many Australians, particularly those on low incomes or running small businesses. On the South Coast, people will tell you that the rising cost of living is starting to really hurt. It hurts to see people in our community having their hard-earned dollars eroded by the rising cost of living. That's why we had to step in and do something.

We wanted to take some of the sting out of the higher power prices and help support Aussie people, and I am so pleased that we are starting to see the benefits flow through to everyday Australians. The Albanese government took a no-nonsense approach to help those who needed it most, and it's working.

Following the announcement, the Australian Energy Market Operator's quarterly report showed electricity futures prices fell steeply for each of the mainland states. Treasury analysis shows that forecast wholesale prices for 2023 have dropped significantly in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. In New South Wales the wholesale drop was 44 per cent. That's real money, hard-earned money, that will now stay in the pockets of honest, hardworking Australians. In fact, modelling has shown that without this intervention electricity prices would be on average $230 higher next year.

It's important to state that if the Liberals and Nationals had their way power prices would go even higher and households would be getting no relief. It would have been business as usual. In fact, the Liberals are so out of touch they opposed our Energy Price Relief Plan, our plan to make it cheaper to keep the lights on for everyday Australians. They didn't think local households and businesses should get this support. They'd rather put politics first: opposition for opposition's sake.

I am proud that the Albanese Labor government has taken responsible and reasonable steps to deliver targeted support to those who need it most. It's targeted relief delivered quickly: plain and simple. The benefits of this plan will continue to build. Australians will continue to feel the benefits of the Energy Price Relief Plan in the weeks and months to come.

The Energy Price Relief Plan is a solid economic plan. This is clear in the way global markets are responding. It's positive planning for the future. The Liberals had nine years and 22 attempts to formulate an energy plan, and did it work? No. Maybe it was going to be 23 times a charm, but I doubt it. It took the election of the Albanese Labor government for positive change to start, but it's not just the Energy Price Relief Plan. Already we have invested $25 billion in reducing emissions, clean energy and market stability. This includes $20 billion for Rewiring the Nation and $1.9 billion for the Powering the Regions Fund. We've also invested half a billion dollars in the Driving the Nation Fund and a quarter of a billion dollars in community batteries, which will benefit 100,000 households, including those in places like Maloneys Beach in my electorate. We have also provided over $100 million for community solar banks, which will benefit 25,000 households; over $60 million for small businesses to become more energy efficient; and $67 million to give regulators more power to protect gas supply.

The Albanese government won't just keep the lights on; we'll deliver much-needed price relief to everyday Australians. The Albanese government is focused on supporting local people in every way possible, and the Energy Price Relief Plan is a key part of that support. Our economy is facing significant challenges from around the world, including the energy crisis caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine, supply issues stemming from China's transition out of COVID-zero, the very real prospect of a global downturn and the impact of interest rate rises, both globally and locally. Despite these challenges, the Albanese government remains optimistic about the future, particularly in light of the positive impacts that our initiatives are already having. I'm proud to be part of a government that's committed to supporting regional families and small businesses. The Energy Price Relief Plan is just one of the many initiatives that we have introduced, and I look forward to seeing the ongoing benefits that it will bring to Australians on the South Coast and throughout the country.

11:00 am

Photo of James StevensJames Stevens (Sturt, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I appreciate the opportunity this motion provides members of the opposition with to talk about the government's record on electricity prices, the promises they took to the last election and the reality of what the implementation of that policy means to suffering families and businesses in this country as electricity costs absolutely spiral out of control on them—as do so many other cost-of-living pressures continue to put burdens on the household budget and on the small businesses that employ so many millions of Australians.

I wouldn't ordinarily give promotion to a policy position of my opponents, but I do feel compelled to commence with a little quote from the policy on electricity prices that they took to the last election. This comes from 'Powering Australia Plan: Labor's plan to create jobs, cut power bills and reduce emissions by boosting renewable energy'. It has the immortal line:

It will cut power bills for families and businesses by $275 a year for homes by 2025, compared to today.

That was in December 2021. Poor old RepuTex—I feel for that company! Reputation-RepuTex: they will rue the day that they shackled themselves to putting their name behind the modelling of that policy. But, of course, they said—and the Labor Party used their credibility—in December 2021, with all the information that everyone had freely available to them then, that when you applied all the policy positions that the Labor Party were going to put in place then the average household would have their power bill reduced by 2025, compared to December 2021, by $275. That was very clear and very straightforward. No doubt a lot of goodhearted Australians believed that the Labor Party would honour that promise, particularly when they had this really high-value modelling behind it, which made it very clear and that a solid commitment was given.

When the first budget of the government was handed down, last October, this was a budget that was very much about putting in place all the policies that the government had taken to the election, including their Powering Australia Plan. With all those policy measures put into the mix, what did the Commonwealth Treasury say about electricity prices once the Powering Australia Plan policy would be fully implemented? That they would be going up by 56 per cent. Prices would be going up by 56 per cent over two years after the Powering Australia Plan that Labor and RepuTex said would cut prices by $275 a year. Instead they'd be going up by 56 per cent. This was such a political problem for the government that they had to have an emergency drastic intervention in the market, which, by their own admission, even if it succeeds, will see power prices still going up but just by less than the disastrous 56 per cent that they put in their budget in October.

The $275 will never be spoken of by anyone opposite. They pretend that it does not exist, that they never said to people, 'Vote for us to be the government of this country and we will cut your power prices by $275.' This was a pretty significant commitment, one where a lot of families might have thought: 'Power prices are a very significant part of the household budget. They stress us. We do worry about when that bill arrives in the mail or on the email each quarter. And it does drive decision-making in our household, because if those bills are going up dramatically, we've got to cut back on other things that are important to us and our family. The Labor Party are saying, 'Under us, you'll save $275 a year.' That might have been quite appealing for those that made the reasonable but regrettable mistake of thinking that was an honest commitment that would actually occur if they voted for the Labor Party.

What has happened since then? Well, apparently, it's all someone else's fault. It's all someone else's fault, and people are meant to be grateful that the initial fear of a 56 per cent increase over two years might not be quite as high. That's the new standard of success for this government—to increase prices by 56 per cent over two years, and perhaps it will be less than that dramatic increase. Gone is the $275 cut. That is never to be spoken of again. Instead we're meant to be grateful for those dramatic increases that will still occur even if those dramatic interventions in the market are successful. We will never let people forget that promise was made and that it has not been honoured by the government.

11:06 am

Photo of Tracey RobertsTracey Roberts (Pearce, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak in support of the member for Dunkley's motion about the strong and decisive actions the Albanese Labor government is taking on energy prices. We have a plan. We are taking highly constructive actions to support Australians, rather than simply stonewalling and saying: 'No. No to this. No to that. No, no, no.' That's 'no-alition' at its best.

Remember that it was the Liberal and National parties that left us with $1 trillion in debt and oversaw a decade of chaos in energy policy. They voted against action on power prices. Not only did the 'no-alition' vote against strong and decisive action on power prices; they also tried to block direct energy bill relief, something that families desperately need. The message to Australian families from the 'no-alition' is that they don't deserve support. How out of touch is that?

If the opposition got their way, power prices would keep going up and up and up, and households would get no help—nothing! How out of touch is it for those opposite to think that households and businesses should not get support? That is in stark contrast to the action that the Albanese government has taken on the rising cost of energy as well as other cost-of-living pressures. We have taken action to remove some of the bite from higher power prices because we want to help families, we want to support small businesses and we want to save Australian manufacturing. Yes, what we've done will take some time to fully flow through, but it is a welcome start, and it is reassuring to see that the plan is already starting to work. We have taken responsible and reasonable actions to help families and businesses, unlike the 'no-alition', which has done nothing but say no. We are making timely and targeted decisions. The market's response is encouraging and a sign that it will be effective. Prices have started to drop. Treasury analysis backs that. We are seeing strong progress on easing cost-of-living pressures for households and businesses because of the Albanese government's decisive and timely actions.

The plain facts are that in December, after the energy relief plan was released, forecast wholesale electricity prices for 2023 dropped compared to November before the plan. Forecast wholesale prices for 2023 have dropped from 29 to 44 per cent. Electricity future prices also fell steeply. In contrast, the opposition barely managed electricity policy amid their energy policy madness across nine years and 22 energy policies—yet not one of them worked. And they kept power price rises a secret until after the election—not good. As we already know, they then tried to block direct energy bill relief for households and businesses. If the opposition had their way, households would be paying $230 more for power bills than they would otherwise have to without a cent of extra support.

They had nine years and 22 failed energy policies, yet, in just less than a year in government, we are investing in our nation because we have a plan. We are investing $20 billion in Rewiring the Nation; a quarter of a million dollars for community batteries for 100,000 households; $25 billion in reducing emissions, in clean energy and in market stability; over $60 million for small businesses to become more energy efficient; half a billion dollars in the Driving the Nation Fund; and over $100 million for community solar banks to benefit 25,000 households.

In conclusion, the Albanese Labor government has a plan, and it is a robust and financially responsible plan.

11:10 am

Photo of Ted O'BrienTed O'Brien (Fairfax, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

In Labor, we have the government of broken promises. Last week, it was a broken promise about superannuation. This week, a broken promise will probably be confirmed about 24/7 registered nurses in aged-care homes.

This motion doesn't go to those sorts of broken promises; this motion goes to probably the first of the Albanese Labor government's many broken promises. That was when Albanese and his colleagues looked the Australian people in the eye—no less than 97 times before the last federal election—and promised them that household power bills would be reduced by $275. That was their promise. It was not an ad hoc statement made by the then opposition leader, but a well calculated promise that they made on multiple occasions.

Even upon coming to government, at this very table, no matter how many times we in the opposition have asked the Prime Minister to confirm that he cannot deliver on that promise, he does not do so, because he wants to still stand by that broken promise of a cut of $275 to people's power bills. Since the government has come to office, what has happened to the household power bill? Has it gone down by $275, as promised by the Albanese Labor government? No, it has not. Average household power bills have gone up—have gone up!—by over $700. That's right. They promised they would go down by $275, but they have gone up by over $700. That's nearly a $1,000 difference. This government set an expectation by making a promise on household energy bills. They are not even a year in, and the extent of that variation is $1,000 a household. It's nearly $1,000 per Australian household. That is the difference between what Labor promised and what Labor is delivering.

This is because Labor is going back to their natural instinct: the instinct of big government and big taxes. As soon as the energy crisis started to bite, the climate and energy minister refused to meet with industry. He wanted big government to find the solution. They have botched the ADGSM. They have taken our coal and gas from the capacity mechanism. Their policies have seen a run to the exit for baseload power stations, worsening the situation and increasing prices. They have seen an unprecedented intervention by the market operator, because of reliability issues, and the price is again going up. They've come in with a price cap, which is suffocating the supply of gas in the market. You suffocate and you restrict gas at a time when people need more of it. Prices go up, and they wonder why prices keep going up.

Those opposite are asking me not to talk out loud about the $275. I don't blame them. In fact, I feel sorry for the member for Dunkley, whose leadership team probably asked them to come in on this motion today.

So shallow is the government on their own agenda that they have their backbench now bringing forward motions celebrating broken promises. I tell you what, Deputy Speaker—I wonder if those in government had been on the shop floors of businesses who are suffering from high energy prices. I have. I can promise you, in those businesses, as they stand around the management table and as they are on the shop floor with the workers, they're not putting forward motions celebrating this government's broken promise of lower power bills. That's not happening. I can tell you, too, that I have sat out the kitchen table, especially with seniors who are struggling to make ends meet. They look at this government, and they're not putting their hands up and saying, 'Let's celebrate the Labor government—a government that promised us a $275 reduction in our household power bills.' Instead, they're saying, 'We are choosing whether we eat or whether we heat our homes.' That is a disgrace, and that is Labor's legacy. They've only just begun.

Photo of Peta MurphyPeta Murphy (Dunkley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Could you repeat that? I didn't hear any of it!

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source


Photo of Ted O'BrienTed O'Brien (Fairfax, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm happy to take the interjection, if you like.

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

No, thank you very much. I call the member for Corangamite.

11:16 am

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Albanese government understands that cost-of-living pressures are biting. We know that one of the key expenses for household are energy bills. That's why we have taken action to rein in power prices with the energy price relief package. This will help families. It'll support small businesses. It'll help seniors and pensioners and save Aussie manufacturers. We've been able to do this through responsible, timely and targeted measures. The Albanese government has designed the Energy Price Relief Plan. This includes a 12-month price cap on new contract sales of gas by producers. This is already having a positive impact for households—for households in Victoria and for people in my electorate, where gas is used widely for heating and cooking. It matters. People are recognising that these power prices are lower than they otherwise would be because of the steps this government—our government—is taking.

It's reflected in the market's response. The ASX Cal-23 electricity futures prices fell steeply for each of the mainland states through to the end of the last quarter. Treasury analysis shows that forecast wholesale prices have already dropped between 29 and 44 per cent. These reductions have come about because of the Albanese government's policies.

Unfortunately, the opposition voted against action on power prices and tried to block direct energy price relief. If they had their way, households would be paying $230 more on their energy bills without a cent of extra support. But don't just take my word for it. Here's their record: first, they helped create the problem with their decade of energy policy chaos, then they kept power price increases a secret until after the election and then they tried to block direct energy bill relief for households and businesses. Under the opposition, we also saw a three-gigawatt decline in dispatchable power. Snowy 2.0 is running 18 months late, and they promised $1 billion for 12 projects to deliver 3.8-gigawatt capacity. Instead, they delivered zero gigawatts. What a damning record.

In contrast, the Albanese government is reducing power prices and looking to the long term. We're investing $20 billion in Rewiring the Nation so your renewable energy can flow into the grid, making energy more affordable and reliable. We're investing almost $2 billion in the Powering the Regions Fund, half-a-billion dollars in the Driving the Nation Fund and a quarter of a billion dollars in community batteries, including one in my electorate of Corangamite, in Torquay. These batteries will benefit 100,000 households, reducing their energy bills. We have also invested over $100 million for community solar banks and over $60 million for small businesses to become more energy efficient. Under an Albanese government, in its first six months, we have seen the strongest jobs growth of any Australian government, with 234,000 new jobs. The accomplishments of this government are something Australians can be proud of.

However, we acknowledge this issue isn't an overnight fix. In 2023 we should be optimistic about the future but realistic about the challenges we face. We have a lot going for us: low unemployment, the beginning of wage growth, and high prices for our products abroad. Confronting the inflation challenge is a core part of our economic plan, as is investing in infrastructure, supporting small business and creating jobs. That's why our energy price relief package is so vital. It's about saving households and businesses money, it's about creating a more stable energy market that supports the economy as a whole and, importantly, it is about reining in energy prices and putting more money in your pocket.

I know the people in my electorate of Corangamite are telling me every day about their challenges with the cost of living. We are acting, and people are acknowledging that, but there is so much more we need to do. We are up to the challenge. We want to create an environment where you and your family can not only pay the bills but thrive and prosper. So the Albanese government will continue to act on the cost-of-living pressures, taking action on energy prices, investing in infrastructure, supporting households, supporting small businesses and creating secure, rewarding jobs.

11:21 am

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I hope the member for Dunkley is not leaving the chamber, because I'm actually going to give her a bit of a shout-out. Like the member for Fairfax, I feel sorry for the member for Dunkley. I can just imagine the Chief Government Whip making phone calls and saying, 'Hey, listen; I need someone to move this motion in PMB,' and getting: 'no', 'no', 'no'. But the member for Dunkley is a good foot soldier for the Labor Party and has put her hand up—

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Indeed, she is. You're quite right there.

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Dunkley has stepped up and moved this motion. Sitting here this morning, I've had the opportunity to listen to the members opposite, and you can see virtually all, if not all, those members reading off the government talking points. There is such a stark contrast between those members opposite reading the talking points and members on this side of the House, who have spent the non-parliamentary sitting weeks getting out into their electorates and talking to mums and dads and local businesses. I can tell you now, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the people of Fisher are telling me loudly, clearly and unequivocally that they are hurting under this Labor government. They are having great difficulty in making ends meet.

Why? Well, we all know about the $275 reduction in power prices that this Labor government ran with in the last election, and we know that, since the Labor government have been in the power, prices for electricity have increased by around $700 a year. That's not a $250 decrease; that's a $700 increase. Treasury's own figures estimated that power prices were going to go up 56 per cent within the next two years and that gas prices were going to have a 40 per cent increase over the next two years. That was not Andrew Wallace or any other member of the opposition saying it; that was Treasury estimating the increase in electricity and gas prices. Yet those opposite, including the Prime Minister, stood up on 97 occasions prior to the election and said: 'Vote for Labor. We'll give you a $275 reduction in electricity prices.' That is a broken promise, and it is true to form. We are seeing a pattern of conduct here.

But it's not just power prices. I note the previous speaker, the member for Corangamite, was talking about cost-of-living pressures, and power prices feed directly into those. We are seeing a pincer movement of pressures being brought to bear on Australian businesses and mums' and dads' budgets. Over the next 12 months, somewhere around 88,000 homes—88,000 mortgages—will roll over from fixed-rate mortgages onto variable rates. Now, what that's going to mean for the average mum and dad is somewhere between $16,000 and $18,000 a year that they're going to have to find to make their mortgage payments. For those like me who have been on a variable rates the whole time, it's been a steady increase over the last nine Reserve Bank meetings. Nine out of the last nine Reserve Bank meetings have increased interest rates. But the people who have been on fixed rates are going to go from somewhere around 2½ per cent to in excess of six per cent. That is going to have a dramatic impact on people's cost of living.

But it's not just peoples mortgages. It's landlords who have to make those mortgage payments. They're going to want to increase rents. They're going to have to increase rents. When mums and dads and small businesses have to pay increasing electricity prices— (Time expired)

Photo of Mike FreelanderMike Freelander (Macarthur, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and resumption of debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.