Senate debates

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Energy, Morrison Government

3:18 pm

Photo of Jess WalshJess Walsh (Victoria, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Over the past couple of weeks we've had an absolute masterclass from this government in what they are today calling 'insider nitpicking'. We've had a masterclass in chaos from this government. We've had an absolute masterclass in division. We've had a masterclass in instability. And today, here in the Senate, we've had a masterclass in spin, because this government cannot admit that it just has no plan to take our country forward. And you have to ask: how can this government run the country in this state? How can they run the country when they cannot even run themselves?

Let's talk about the government's performance over the past couple of weeks, and in this chamber today. We've had two New South Wales members of the government—Mr Zimmerman and Mr Sharma—say that it is not the government's job to fund a new coal-fired power station and that they don't support it. At the very same time, we've had Senator Canavan and Mr Christensen—from Queensland—telling Queensland voters that the government is in fact funding a new coal-fired power station. Then, today, we heard from the minister, Senator Birmingham, who said, 'No, the government is not funding a coal-fired power station.' Which is it: yes or no? Who knows? This government is in absolute chaos. It is divided. It has no plan to deal with the big issues that are facing our country today. Today we heard a member of the government describe other members as 'toddlers having a tantrum', and we saw a bit of that in the chamber here today. Yesterday one of their former prime ministers condemned the government's support for this proposed coal-fired power station. Then, on the other hand, a Queensland senator called the renewable energy sector the dole bludgers of the energy system—of course, we could only be referring there to Senator Canavan. So, again, what is this government's plan? What is its policy? Does it support renewable energy or does it not support renewable energy?

Let's talk about the feasibility study. What is it actually about? It is $4 million of taxpayers' money being spent on a study for a coal-fired power station that no-one in the private sector wants to touch. No-one in the private sector wants to go anywhere near coal-fired power stations right now. If the government is proposing to support this, what is it doing with taxpayers' money? If the private sector doesn't want to go anywhere near it—if it doesn't want to take the risk—then why risk taxpayers' money? The answer has been on show here today and over the past couple of weeks. This feasibility study is $4 million being spent to just shut up the climate deniers in the coalition who are in the government today. So chaos, division, instability, confusion, different answers to the same question and different points of view within the party is what this government is putting on show for the Australian people right now.

The big problem for the Australian people is that this means that the government cannot deliver on the big challenges that are facing the country today. It just does not have a plan for anything. Government MPs and senators are speaking out against their own leadership. We've had the Nationals in a leadership coup. Just yesterday, the government lost a vote, losing control in the House of Representative and losing the vote on an important position for the government. Those in the government have no idea what is coming at them at the moment. How are they meant to be governing the country when they cannot even govern themselves? They like to talk about the economy. Where is their plan for the economy? They don't have a plan for the climate, they don't have a plan to tackle energy prices or the cost of living and they don't have a plan to take Australia forward, because they are so focused on themselves—on their own internal divisions and their own chaos—that they cannot deliver what Australians need today. (Time expired)

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