Senate debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2022


Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Legislation Amendment Bill 2022; Second Reading

10:13 am

Photo of Jonathon DuniamJonathon Duniam (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Environment, Fisheries and Forestry) Share this | Hansard source

It's my pleasure to rise to make a contribution on behalf of the opposition on the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Legislation Amendment Bill 2022.

Offshore energy infrastructure has the potential to create significant investment and job creation opportunities, as well as to contribute to Australia's future energy security. That is why, when in government, the coalition delivered on a 2019 election commitment and passed legislation to enable the development of offshore electricity energy infrastructure and to provide industry with the certainty needed to invest in Australian offshore electricity infrastructure projects. That bill, the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021, established a regulatory framework that covered all phases of development, from construction through to decommissioning of generation and transmission projects.

In the 2020-21 budget, the then government invested $4.8 million into development of the legislative framework, including providing $2.9 million of seed funding for the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority and the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator to develop policy, regulations, guidelines and advice to industry. Additionally, we provided $1.9 million to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources and Geoscience Australia for legal advice, marine spatial data collection, public consultation and drafting of regulations. These actions were part of the coalition's energy policy that kept the lights on and—especially important now—kept prices low. Households and businesses rely on affordable, reliable power to grow and to thrive, and, as I said, this is now more important than ever. In government we took decisive action to deliver affordable, reliable energy for Australian consumers. That means having an affordable, reliable, 24/7 supply of electricity. That plan was working. Under the coalition, electricity prices dropped to an eight-year low. When Labor was last in government, household electricity costs doubled. Labor's back in power now and electricity prices are again on the rise.

Since coming to government, the Albanese government have failed Australian people on energy. In the less than six months since they came to power, the government have walked away from a promise to the Australian people to reduce household energy bills by $275. I know, from my home state of Tasmania, that that was an important promise made by the government but one that has been completely abandoned. They demonised important gas projects that, rather than competing with renewables, actually complemented them. They guillotined the Energy Security Board's capacity mechanism and took the extraordinary intervention of suspending the wholesale spot market, which shook the market and cost energy users more than $200 million. But what else would we expect from a government that doesn't understand the difference between the wholesale price of energy and the retail price of energy?

The government's 2022-23 budget shows that Australians can expect a 50 per cent increase in their energy bills and a 40 per cent increase in their gas bills in 2023 alone. This could be as much as $1,092 for some households and $2,450 for some small businesses, and an increase in gas bills of $602. It is truly chilling, quite frankly, when you look at the numbers. Wholesale prices are currently $100 more in New South Wales than at the same time last year. Our expert energy bodies forecast reliability gaps and energy security risks for the next decade. Industry experts have also called the current energy transition a 'train wreck'. Alinta's CEO, Jeff Dimery, said, 'I think we're headed for failure unless things change significantly.' EnergyAustralia's CEO, Mark Collette, said, 'I am more concerned about a smooth energy transition than a year ago.'

Minister Bowen told the AFR energy summit that to deliver Labor's 82 per cent Renewable Energy Target by 2030 the country will require 40 seven-megawatt wind turbines every month until the year 2030. It also will need more than 22,000 500-watt panels to be installed every day, and 60 million of these panels by 2030. Labor also plans to carpet our regions with up to 28,000 kilometres of poles and wires through prime Australian agricultural land to connect these projects to the grid. Every dollar spent on transmission has to be repaid by the consumers, ultimately through higher electricity bills.

Labor promised over and over that they would reduce electricity prices by $275, as I've already said. At the launch of their $275-cut policy, Labor made their promise and then repeated it and underlined it 96 times over. On a total of 97 occasions since early December, Labor has made this promise a centrepiece of its bid for government. But Labor is putting us on a path not only to huge hikes in electricity and gas bills but also to less reliability of energy supply. Quite clearly, Labor simply can't be trusted to deliver sensible energy policy.

On the issue of social licence, the opposition, when in government, understood the importance of local communities granting a social licence to build major renewables projects, including transmission lines, that may have an impact on the community, properties and the way of life of residents. Sadly, though, this government does not understand it.

It's good to have Senator Hanson-Young here!


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