Senate debates

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Questions without Notice

Electricity

2:34 pm

Photo of Matthew CanavanMatthew Canavan (Queensland, Liberal National Party, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator Hume for that question. I know how seriously she takes this issue and how important she knows lower power prices are for the Victorian economy, especially given the strong manufacturing industry in that state. That is why the government has taken action to reduce energy prices: because we want to protect jobs, particularly in our manufacturing sector. We want to help households lower their budgets and ensure they can balance those budget every year, and we are already taking action to do that.

We have, for the first time, introduced regulations that allow the Australian government to restrict the exports of gas from Australia to ensure there is sufficient gas here domestically. In the last 18 months that has helped lower gas prices by about 20 per cent in the spot market, and offers of gas to large businesses have fallen from $20 a gigajoule, and sometimes more, to less than $10 a gigajoule at the moment—so a 50 per cent reduction in offers of gas to large energy users, particularly those large manufacturers in Senator Hume's home state of Victoria. We've also ended the ability of large companies to challenge regulatory decisions under the so-called limited merits review process. That decision alone has helped save consumers $6 billion by not allowing large companies to challenge regulatory decisions that have been properly made.

We realise though, of course, there is a lot more to do, and that's why we have an extensive plan to lower power prices further. We're doing three major things. We are ensuring that consumers get the lowest possible offer they can by making sure default offers from the large companies come down, and the energy minister met with the energy producers last week to do that. We are also introducing legislation later this year that will ensure governments have a big stick to wield to make sure energy companies don't dud consumers and to provide strong competition in these markets. Finally, we are encouraging investment in new and reliable power generation, because we understand, we know, greater supply of power will mean lower power prices for Australians.

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