House debates

Tuesday, 14 November 2023

Questions without Notice


3:04 pm

Photo of Susan TemplemanSusan Templeman (Macquarie, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. How is the Albanese Labor government helping to ease pressure on families by working to deliver cleaner, cheaper energy? What approaches has the government rejected?

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the honourable member for her question and for her very strong and clear climate leadership in her electorate and here in Canberra. The Albanese government's approach really has two parts. Firstly, we are providing direct relief to Australian families and to Australian businesses. Around five million households and around a million businesses are receiving direct support from the Albanese government as part of our energy relief package which passed through the parliament last year against the wishes of those opposite, who voted against it at every opportunity. They voted against it at each and every stage in this House and in the other place.

The other thing we're doing is proceeding to prudently manage the rollout of cheap, reliable renewable energy. The fact that wholesale prices are now under half what they were this time last year is in no small part due to the fact that renewable energy is fulfilling an increasing role in our energy mix. We know that renewable energy is cheap energy, even though those opposite simply don't understand it.

The honourable member asked me what approaches we have rejected. What we have rejected is a gamble by the opposition—it's not a plan; it's a gamble—on the unproven technology of small modular nuclear reactors, which the opposition—

We know the member for Fairfax is a big fan of small modular nuclear reactors. He does his little videos. They are the world's worst TED Talks, those videos! But they come out regularly.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The minister will just pause and take a breath so I—

The member for Fairfax will not interject so I can hear from the Manager of Opposition Business.

Photo of Paul FletcherPaul Fletcher (Bradfield, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise on a point of order on relevance, Mr Speaker. The principles are very clear. Ministers are to be asked questions and to answer about matters within their portfolio responsibility, not the policies of other parties.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I will deal with this. The question did say, 'What approaches have the government rejected?' The minister's been going through policy detail. That is part of the question. I am going to listen to him carefully for the one minute and 25 seconds remaining to make sure that he is being relevant. That is not the main part of the question, but he is entitled to answer that part of the question.

Photo of Chris BowenChris Bowen (McMahon, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Fairfax is a particular poster child as he proselytises about how good small nuclear reactors are. There is a nuclear reactor called NuScale in Idaho. It doesn't actually exist, but the member for Fairfax has been talking about how great it is. He wrote in a newspaper:

Evidence of a burgeoning nuclear industry for next-generation technology can also be seen in SMRs developed by new players.

NuScale's integrated reactors offer exceptional flexibility …

He also had pictures of the NuScale reactor. He is its poster child. It was cancelled last week after a 53 per cent cost blowout. The member for Fairfax has outrageously criticised the CSIRO. In fact, the CSIRO was properly conservative. He said last week about nuclear:

It's sort of like Lego. You take it to site where it is assembled.

He said a nuclear reactor is like Lego. That's the degree of policy substance we have. I have to say that this is the most detailed policy we have had from the opposition in the last 18 months. The only other thing we have had is the member for New England saying, 'If you can see a nuclear reactor from your house, you are going to get your power for free.'