Tuesday, 11 February 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. Prime Minister Morrison has promised Australians a strong and stable government. Today one Liberal MP has told The Australian that the Liberals' treatment of the Nationals was:
… like appeasing a child who has a tantrum. … This is what we have been doing for four years. The more they don't get their way the bigger the tantrum is.
How is the Prime Minister going to appease the Nationals this time?
It's good to see how the Australian Labor Party is asking the great questions about the future of our nation. I know that the senator is concerned, so let me reassure him that the Liberal-National coalition remains strong and united and continues to deliver for the Australian people. Having taken over a government from the Labor-Green coalition that preceded us, we turned around that disastrous situation that we inherited. Under that government there was a weakening economy, rising unemployment, a rapidly deteriorating budget position, chaos at our borders and people forced to pay more for their electricity in order to send higher emissions overseas. The last Labor-Green period in government was a complete failure. The Liberal and National parties in government continue to deliver for the Australian people, continue to deliver a stronger economy with better opportunities for Australian families to get ahead and, indeed, continue to keep our borders safe and secure. I put our record against the Labor-Green record any day.
They can come in here and ask juvenile university politics questions. Senator Sheldon, given that you used to be a national secretary of a great union, the Transport Workers Union, I think you should be embarrassed that you have accepted that sort of question from your tactics committee.
Yesterday former Prime Minister Turnbull told journalists in the Marble Foyer:
Those people who are advocating that the government should fund coal-fired power are basically making a case for higher emissions and higher energy prices, and that is nuts.
Does the Prime Minister agree with former Prime Minister Turnbull?
I thank you for the supplementary question. I remember my time in the Turnbull cabinet, when we initiated the Underwriting New Generation Investments program, which was deliberately technology neutral. It was during the during the Turnbull government that we thought very carefully about how we would deal with the clearly ongoing need for base-load power into the future as part of an energy mix that includes an increasing proportion of renewables.
Under our government, we are making record investments in renewables. We are also investing in the major battery of the nation through Snowy 2.0. We were always focused making sure that there was the opportunity for appropriate investment in base-load power generation that was appropriately affordable and reliable, including in coal. That was what accepting recommendation 4 of the ACCC report was all about. (Time expired)
I have provided an answer on record in relation to this. I don't agree with that description. Renewable energy is a very important part of our energy mix. In order to ensure that we can deliver affordable, reliable energy supplies, we need to ensure that we continue to make sensible decisions about the entire energy mix, which will continue to also rely substantially on Australian coal. Relying on Australian coal and demonstrating to the world how we are able to lower emissions through higher efficiency, lower emissions coal-fired power station technology will help reduce emissions around the world. If we displace ground coal, which is more polluting, with high-quality Australian black coal into HELE plants, that is a good thing for the environment. That is perhaps something that the Labor Party used to understand. If they thought about it, they might get their head around it again.