Monday, 27 November 2023
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. In media interviews over the weekend, the minister failed to answer questions on whether there is a cap on taxpayer money to be spent mopping up the minister's renewables-only energy policy via his newly announced Ponzi scheme. When will the minister come clean and disclose the true cost of this scheme—
The member will pause for a moment. The minister for the environment was interjecting right throughout that question, and I couldn't hear it. It is the same rules for both sides. The member will be heard in silence. He will be heard again, and if anyone interjects they will not be here to hear the answer. I give the call to the member for Fairfax.
My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. In media interviews over the weekend, the minister failed to answer questions on whether there is a cap on taxpayer money to be spent mopping up the minister's renewables-only energy policy via his newly announced Ponzi scheme. When will the minister come clean and disclose the true cost of this scheme, or has the minister again signed a blank cheque on behalf of taxpayers?
I thank the honourable member for his question. It's the last sitting week of this year, and the honourable member just rustled up his fourth question to me all year, so congratulations! It took you all year to get four questions, which is a great achievement! If the Treasurer's worried about productivity, he may want to have a look at the member for Fairfax!
The member for Fairfax asked me about the Capacity Investment Scheme, which is a very important scheme to ensure that we are getting reliable energy into the system, and it works as an auction. It is quite common practice in governments of all levels, when you are conducting an auction, to say that it is commercial in confidence, and that makes sense. That's why the New South Wales—
That's why the New South Wales Liberal government, when they introduced their equivalent scheme, kept the cost commercial in confidence. That's the way it works in Western Australia. We hear from the member for Hume. It's a concept he might be familiar with because, when he announced the UNGI scheme, underwriting new generation investments—which would have been better called 'unfortunately, no generation involved'; actually there was not one watt—he said, when he was asked, 'These discussions are commercial in confidence, and I'm not going to go into the details of them here and now.'
My old friend the former member for Flinders, Greg Hunt, when he was bringing down the Emissions Reduction Fund—remember that, Direct Action—one of the 26 failed energy policies he was asked to cost, said:
… the Clean Energy Regulator could run tender rounds to select eligible offers on a lowest-cost priority basis up to a benchmark price. This benchmark would be commercial-in-confidence to encourage businesses to submit their lowest price.
There's an even bigger example. The member for Cook—I'm not sure in which capacity the member for Cook was speaking on this occasion—
The point of order is one on relevance, because the question went to when the minister will advise the true cost of his scheme, a question he is yet to come to in his answer.
I'm referring, of course, to why such schemes are commercial in confidence, in keeping with traditional budget treatment. This is being treated in the same regard as every other similar matter in the budget. The member for Cook was asked about his very successful deal with the French on the submarines, and he said, when asked about the cost, 'Those are commercial-in-confidence matters,' on a very cheap contract with the French for the submarines! The member for Cook went on—
The honourable member asked me about the Capacity Investment Scheme. I very much welcome his interest. I understand his interest. It is being treated and will be treated in the same way as similar matters have been treated in budgets from time immemorial.