House debates

Tuesday, 28 November 2023

Questions without Notice


2:36 pm

Photo of Anne StanleyAnne Stanley (Werriwa, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. How is the Albanese Labor government working to ensure reliable and affordable electricity? What obstacles has the government faced?

2:37 pm

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

I thank my honourable friend for her question and thank her for her leadership in our part of the world, south Western Sydney. It's great to have such a strong member of parliament to work so closely with. The constituents of Werriwa know, as the constituents right around Australia know, that we need more reliable energy and we need more of it quickly. We need that because of the situation that we're dealing with, where, over the last 10 years, for example, we had 24 coal plants announce their closure—equivalent to almost 27 gigawatts of power announced to leave the grid, with no coordinated plan to replace it. We know over the last 10 years we saw four gigawatts of dispatchable power leave the grid and only one gigawatt come on to replace it. That has meant our energy system has been increasingly reliant on those coal-fired power stations that are left and that are ageing.

This has caused challenges. Just in recent weeks we've had two units at one of the largest coal-fired power stations in Australia, Eraring, out of action, and we've had one of the Callide units out of action since May 2021 and not returning until May next year because of a major interruption. So we need more energy investment. That's why this government has introduced the Capacity Investment Scheme and the gas code. Both are very important for reliable energy.

I am asked what obstacles there are. There haven't been many obstacles to the Capacity Investment Scheme because it has received such wide support from energy users, energy producers, climate groups, governments across Australia. Energy ministers met last week, and the communique unanimously endorsed the Albanese government's Capacity Investment Scheme—governments all across Australia, including the Liberal minister for energy from Tasmania and the Greens minister for energy from the ACT. The Tasmanian minister for energy issued a very strong statement. Minister Nick Duigan issued a strong statement on behalf of the Rockliff government welcoming the Albanese government's Capacity Investment Scheme. That's a big step forward.

We know those opposite didn't get the memo. They didn't agree with their Tasmanian colleagues. They don't agree with the former New South Wales government, the Perrottet government, which supported our Capacity Investment Scheme. But that's a matter for them.

Also, there's the gas code. The gas code was introduced to ensure that there is an anchor on prices and more supply. The Greens have moved a disallowance. I said yesterday we didn't know how the Liberals were going to vote. It turns out they didn't know how they were going to vote either. They didn't turn up. They abstained.

The Greens' disallowance motion was defeated, although, when they looked around the Senate chamber, they found they were voting with One Nation, with Senator Babet and with Senator Canavan, who crossed the floor. If you're a Green, Senator, who has moved a motion about energy and you look around and find you're accompanied by One Nation, Senator Babet and Senator Canavan, you might say, 'We've made a rather large error.' And they did.

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

The member for Deakin will cease interjecting immediately.