Monday, 19 June 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. On the same day the Chief Scientist presented his review into the future security of the National Electricity Market, the Prime Minister said:
I would say this about the clean energy target mechanism. It has a number of virtues, very strong virtues. One is that it is technology agnostic …
Does the Turnbull government remain committed to a technology agnostic mechanism?
Is the government considering designating coal as a clean energy source as part of that target? How is picking a winner, by explicitly including a technology that investors will not invest in, consistent with a technology-agnostic approach?
As I said in my answer to your primary question, yes, we do believe in a technology agnostic approach, and our consideration of the Finkel report will be guided by that consideration. That having been said—and as I said in reply to the earlier question of your colleague Senator McAllister—the government at the moment is considering its response at the moment to the Finkel report. The Finkel report was, of course, only received the Friday before last. We have had, as you know, a long discussion in our party room in relation to it. The government will be announcing certain policy measures in response to the Finkel report in the near future. They will be informed, as I have said before, by the three overriding objectives of affordable electricity, secure supply and meeting Australia's international obligations to reduce carbon emissions.
There is only one party that takes an ideological approach to energy policy, and that is the Australian Labor Party. We saw the result of an ideological approach to energy policy in the state of South Australia last year, when the entire state was blacked out because the Premier, Mr Weatherill, and his government did take an ideological approach. They struck a 50 per cent renewable energy contribution with the electricity market in South Australia without backing it up, so there was no redundancy in the system. That is what an ideological approach gets you. We take a pragmatic approach. We take an approach based on economics and based on engineering, not on ideology, so as to ensure that we have affordable electricity and secure supply while meeting our international commitments.
I could barely hear the minister in that answer, because of Senator Wong's shouting, and I am wondering if you could declare a suspension of the Senate so that Senator Farrell could explain to Senator Wong how to properly lead the opposition.