Senate debates

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Statements by Senators

Energy

1:05 pm

Photo of Andrew BartlettAndrew Bartlett (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

It is in the power of governments to do something about it. Because both Liberal and Labor are so caught up still in the neo-liberal agenda of putting profits first, in letting market forces deliver supposed benefits to the community, they can't see that there are other approaches that will work.

This is the approach that the Greens put forward, and it is an approach that independent energy analysts have said will deliver. Alongside rolling back privatisation, having public ownership, having government control, and having a long-term legislative objective to require prices to be set in a way that doesn't allow price gouging, we can also invest in renewable energy. Again, every independent observer who's not an ideological warrior will recognise and say that expanding renewable energy is the way to reduce power prices. Killing the renewable energy industry, as this government wants to do, and funding coal-power generation won't push down prices; it will push prices up. It will not deliver jobs and it will not, of course, deliver the sorts of emissions reductions that every independent scientific analyst recognises we urgently need to deliver. The economic harm, let alone the environmental harm, from continuing to allow runaway climate change, because of a lack of political will to reduce emissions, will hit all of us and it will, of course, hit poorest households hardest.

We can invest in continuing to roll out renewable energy generation, which is creating jobs in regional and rural parts of the country, including in Queensland. The proposals the Queensland Greens put forward of investing adequately in renewable energy generation would not only reduce prices but also create up to 5,500 full-time jobs in design and construction every year for five years. That doesn't include operation and maintenance jobs, which would be additional and ongoing beyond that. That's if you had the political will to fund activities that will not only generate jobs but also reduce electricity prices. Instead this government wants to give those gouging corporations more tax cuts. Thankfully, at least today the Senate managed to roll back that effort to give back even more money to companies already making record profits while households dealing with energy prices, which this government is now doing absolutely nothing about, face continuing wage stagnation and job insecurity. That is the focus for the Greens. That is the approach we will continue to put forward leading up to this federal election, whenever it might be called.

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