Wednesday, 22 August 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. On Monday, in the face of an outright revolt within his own party room, the Prime Minister junked his government's National Energy Guarantee, the third energy policy that he's walked away from just this year. The chief executive of the Business Council, Jennifer Westacott, said the Prime Minister's capitulation would exacerbate sovereign risk and would 'discourage investment in urgently needed dispatchable power, with serious consequences for prices and reliability down the track'. After junking the emissions reduction target, then the clean energy target and then the National Energy Guarantee just this year, isn't it clear the Turnbull government's division and dysfunction are pushing up power bills and damaging investment in energy?
The answer to that question is no. The work done by the Turnbull government has helped bring down electricity prices and has helped improve the reliability of energy supplies—and of course we will continue to focus on that objective—unlike the policies of the Labor Party. The Labor Party has a commitment to increase the emissions reduction target to 45 per cent. The Labor Party has a commitment to increase the Renewable Energy Target to 50 per cent. You know what that's going to do? That's going to push up the cost of electricity, which is going to hurt households, it's going to hurt families and pensioners, and it's going to hurt businesses and cost jobs. So, on this side of the chamber, we will continue to work to reduce electricity prices and we will continue to work to improve the reliability of energy supplies.
And where was the Labor Party? If you were so committed to the National Energy Guarantee, why didn't you come out and say so? The opportunity's still there. You stood up against company tax cuts, even though you knew it was the right way to go, just because of politics. You're not interested in the national interest; you're just interested in your opportunistic, political self-interest. When Mr Shorten has a choice between opportunism and doing the right thing, he will always go for self-interest and political opportunism.
Continued division within the government has left one Liberal backbencher worried about colleagues:
They've got houses, school bills, cars that they've set up for themselves on the basis that they're earning $200,000 plus. What do they do if they're suddenly out of work?
Why are members of the Turnbull government more worried about themselves than the impact that their division and dysfunction is having on power prices?
I'll tell you what the Turnbull government is concerned about, and that is ensuring that Australians today and into the future have the best possible opportunity to get ahead. That is why we work so hard to turn the weakening economy you left behind, and the rising unemployment you left behind, into stronger growth and more jobs, because stronger growth and more jobs are central to ensuring that Australians today and into the future have the best possible opportunity to get ahead. And do you know what? As part of that effort we need to ensure that the businesses around Australia, who employ nine out of 10 working Australians, have the best possible opportunity to be successful into the future.
Do you know what Bill Shorten will do to business? Bill Shorten will go after business with higher taxes. Bill Shorten will be pursuing an anti-business, anti-opportunity, politics-of-envy, class warfare agenda, which will hurt the economy, which will cost jobs. More than $200 billion in higher taxes under Mr Shorten will lead to less investment, lower growth, fewer jobs and higher unemployment—and, on the back of higher unemployment, lower wages.
Isn't it clear that Australians who are facing increasing job insecurity, stagnant wages, rising cost-of-living pressures, longer waits for a hospital bed and soaring childcare costs can expect no help from Turnbull government members, who are consumed by their division and dysfunction?
I've got to say, that's what you've got to call chutzpah. I mean, this is the mob that left behind a weakening economy, rising unemployment and a rapidly deteriorating budget position. We turned that around into stronger growth, more jobs and a lower unemployment rate than people anticipated and a budget position that has a much stronger fiscal foundation and trajectory for the future, and we get a silly question like that.
Working families across Australia will do better with the pro-business, pro-jobs, pro-opportunity agenda of lower taxes pursued by the Turnbull government than they would ever have done under the high-taxing, socialist, anti-business, anti-jobs agenda promoted by the Shorten alternative.