Monday, 27 November 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Energy, Senator Birmingham. Will the minister update the Senate on the government's success in advancing the National Energy Guarantee to provide Australians a more reliable and affordable energy system?
I thank Senator Duniam for his question and for his strong commitment to ensuring the most affordable energy is available to Australian households and consumers whilst being reliable and as low-emission as possible. I'm thrilled to inform the Senate that on Friday the COAG Energy Council agreed to the next steps of implementation of the Turnbull government's National Energy Guarantee. As the modelling that was tabled from the Energy Security Board to the COAG Energy Council demonstrates, this is about delivering a policy that will drive prices down compared to what they would be and drive reliability up—and will do so in the lowest emissions way possible. This is, in many ways, the holy trinity of energy policy: improved reliability, improved affordability and lower emissions. That's what the National Energy Guarantee is delivering.
The Labor Party called for modelling when the policy was released, and modelling has been undertaken by Frontier Economics, the same people the Labor Party federally and in South Australia have been happy to use and rely upon. So I trust, having been happy to rely upon those modellers in the past, they are happy to accept the findings of those modellers today. Those findings make clear that wholesale energy prices will fall by an average of 23 per cent and as much as 30 per cent under this policy setting. Household bills will be some $400 a year lower compared with today, with $120 in savings coming from the National Energy Guarantee. The impact for businesses will be particularly profound. Small businesses, such as cafes, could save hundreds of dollars a year. Medium-sized businesses, such as supermarkets, could save an estimated $400,000 a year. Large energy-intensive manufacturers could save millions of dollars. (Time expired)
We have seen the damage that state based, go-it-alone type policies have done. In Queensland, the gaming of the system by state owned generators drove up wholesale prices and cost households and businesses enormously. In Victoria, the tripling of coal royalties and the reckless state renewable energy target helped to drive the closure of Hazelwood. Everyone knows about the impact of the 50 per cent renewable energy target in South Australia which was done with no plans for back-up or storage. Of course, we saw the consequences there for reliability and affordability. If energy policy had gone so well in South Australia, you have to ask yourself: why is it that Jay Weatherill's answer after the statewide blackout was to come along and install diesel generators to keep the state going through this summer until the next election? We have 'Green Jay' out there with his green policies, and yet his solution is diesel generators to get through until March next year—hardly a green solution.
We are thrilled that, as I said, the COAG Energy Council delivered progress on Friday. But, sadly, the South Australian Labor Party sat there with the Greens energy minister from the ACT and continued to say that they were against it. Sadly, those opposite continue to give ambiguous answers about what their policy position is. We would urge them not only to listen to the government and look at the modelling that we have commissioned that demonstrates our case but also listen to the broad cross-section of 16 industry groups—a large range of stakeholders from the Australian Industry Group through to the National Farmers' Federation, the Council of Social Services, the ACTU and Vinnies—who all urged parties to work together in good faith and in the spirit of compromise to make further development of the National Energy Guarantee their top priority. It is certainly a top priority for the Turnbull government. We are pleased other states are willing to work with us, and we urge those opposite to do so too.