Monday, 20 August 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. Last week the Prime Minister celebrated his victory in the coalition party room, claiming his energy policy received 'overwhelming support'. Does the Prime Minister stand by that statement?
Indeed, it received overwhelming support in the party room but not sufficient support in all aspects for it to be carried through the House of Representatives in the current circumstances. What the government announced earlier today is our plan to further reduce power prices. Indeed, in accelerating our response to the ACCC report, which we commissioned, firstly we will create a default power bill offer for households and small businesses, which is consistent with recommendation 30 of the ACCC's report. This is not a price cap but, instead, a requirement for all retailers to make a new, cheaper offer, set every year, based on the AER's estimate of the efficient cost of the retailer's operation. The AER sets one default offer for each network distribution area. The ACCC estimates that for average customers on an inflated standing offer the savings on moving to a new default market offer could range between $183 and $416. For average small and medium-sized businesses on a standing offer they could range between $561 and $1,457.
We will also give ourselves a big stick to make energy companies lower their prices and we will move more quickly to implement the remaining ACCC recommendations—in particular recommendation 1, recommendation 4, recommendation 32 and recommendation 33. For average customers, as I've already indicated, on an inflated standing offer the savings on moving to a new default market offer could range between $183 and $416.
Opposition senators interjecting—
The default market offer could see up to 1.2 million households save up to $416, which is an ACCC measure. This is on top of the 500,000 who were moved off standing offers or expired market offers last year, which is the AER figure. And, according to AEMO, 1.8 million customers have switched, looking for a better deal, since we first took action.
I think this is asking a question to which you know the answer. What happened is that, clearly, right now there's not sufficient support for that particular part of the policy through the House of Representatives. We remain committed to the emissions reduction target and we remain on track to achieve the emissions reduction target, but right now that aspect of the policy—which did receive the overwhelming support of the party room but not sufficient support for it to pass the House of Representatives—will not be legislated at this time.
Mr Turnbull has now junked the clean energy target and the emissions intensity scheme, junked down the National Energy Guarantee and committed billions to building new coal-fired power, and he is walking away from his commitment to legislating emissions reduction targets. Is there anything left for this Prime Minister to concede to the hard right of his own party room?
The Turnbull government is committed to delivering lower prices for households, for families and pensioners—lower electricity prices and more reliable energy supplies. We are working flat out to ensure that families and pensioners around Australia and businesses around Australia can get the benefit of lower electricity prices and reliable energy supplies. It is a matter of public record that, in the circumstances, one aspect of the policy was not going to be able to be legislated through the House of Representatives, and we've made relevant decisions accordingly.