Wednesday, 15 August 2018
Questions without Notice
National Energy Guarantee
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Energy, Senator Birmingham. Will the minister please update the Senate on how the National Energy Guarantee will deliver affordable, reliable energy for all Australians, but particularly in my state, the great state of Victoria?
I thank Senator Hume for her question, knowing that Senator Hume, like every single member of the coalition, is driven by a desire to see lower energy prices for Australian households and lower energy prices for Australian businesses. Indeed, that is why it's so important to deliver the reliability and the affordability that the National Energy Guarantee will provide for all Australians, including those in the great state of Victoria.
As the Senate is well aware, the National Energy Guarantee has come from recommendations of the Independent Energy Security Board. It's a guarantee that for the first time brings together an integrated approach to energy policy and deals with it in a way that ensures we get the lowest-cost outcome for Australian households. And those benefits will be real right across the nation, including in Victoria. It's backed by industry; by business groups; by consumer groups; by organisations; and by companies such as Orora, who have 11 locations across Victoria, in places such as Scoresby, Wendouree, Altona and Dandenong; by Rheem, located in Moorabbin; by Orica, located in East Melbourne and Deer Park.
It will see Australian households enjoy benefits to the tune of around $550 in their electricity prices. It will see wholesale prices forecast to drop by 20 per cent. And what does that mean? Well, that 20 per cent reduction in wholesale prices flows through. It means that Victorian supermarkets will see reductions in prices of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Victorian chemical factories or industrial factories or large employers could see savings to the tune of millions of dollars in their energy costs. All of this makes it more affordable for them to invest, to create more jobs, to create a circumstance where they have the confidence to create a better working environment for all Victorians, just as it will happen across every other state of Australia.
At the 10 August COAG Energy Council meeting, the council noted the very detailed work the Energy Security Board has undertaken on the final design of the guarantee, as well as the final modelling that outlines those extensive savings that will accrue to households and to businesses and allow them to have confidence in their investment.
COAG energy ministers are now being provided with a draft of Commonwealth legislation following its endorsement by the coalition party room, and COAG Energy Council ministers have agreed to the release of the exposure draft of the National Electricity Law amendments that would implement the guarantee following confirmation at the Energy Council teleconference that occurred yesterday, 14 August. Ultimately, those amendments will be presented to the council for final approval before being legislated through the state parliaments. The government's intent is to see this work through cooperatively with all Australian states to get the best possible outcomes for Australian households, businesses and the Australian economy, which are lower energy prices that ensure that people can invest and grow jobs with confidence.
It's very clear that the Victorian government, indeed, all states, in the national electricity market, should support the guarantee. Daniel Andrews should support it not only because of the affordability benefits I have outlined but also for the reliability benefits. The Australian Energy Market Operator said that Victoria last year faced a 43 per cent chance of load shedding, which is a euphemism for blackouts. Victoria had the second-highest prices for electricity in the country. It's really critical to address those issues of reliability and affordability, as the NEG does, in the state of Victoria.
The only reason that the Victorian government is playing any types of games in its position on this is that Daniel Andrews and the Labor Party apparently are running scared of the Greens in the lead-up to the Victorian state election. Rather than letting the Greens dictate Labor policy, Labor ought to stand up for the businesses and households of Victoria, stand up for lower electricity prices, stand up for the reliability the NEG will bring and stand up for a better energy policy. (Time expired)