Wednesday, 17 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Senator Seselja. Can the minister update the Senate on how the Morrison government is ensuring that Australian families and businesses have access to the affordable, reliable energy they depend on, which will support job creation and continue our economic recovery?
I thank Senator Hughes for the question. The Morrison government, unlike those opposite, is focused on delivering affordable, reliable and secure electricity for all Australian families and businesses. This is central to our ongoing commitment to economic recovery and will support jobs, productivity and economic growth. Our plan to reduce power bills for hundreds of thousands of households and businesses is working.
As a result of the default market offer reforms introduced by the Morrison government, Australians are already benefiting from lower electricity prices. Wholesale energy prices across the National Electricity Market have fallen for 17 straight months, from well before COVID. With wholesale costs making up around a third of residential electricity bills, and even more for industry, these price falls are delivering real savings for Australian families and businesses.
Today, the Australian Energy Regulator released its draft determination for the default market offer for 2021-22. The DMO will translate into lower prices for households and businesses across New South Wales, South-East Queensland and South Australia. The DMO caps the price of the most expensive offers in the market, protecting consumers from high electricity prices. The Australian Energy Regulator's draft price determination released today will drop prices for households on standing offers by up to 7.9 per cent or $136 a year, and for small businesses by up to 8½ per cent. This builds on substantial savings already delivered in the first two years of our default market offer reforms. Average residential customers who were on the highest standing offers prior to the introduction of the DMO could now be up to $802 per year better off in New South Wales, $794 better off in South-East Queensland and $707 better off in South Australia. We're putting more money into people's pockets and supporting our economic recovery.
Thank you, and I can. The Morrison government remains absolutely focused on providing relief to Australian households and businesses, and I'm pleased to advise the Senate that we are empowering consumers to find the best energy deals available. While the default market offer protects customers from the highest priced offers, it's important that households and businesses understand there are better offers available. That's why we're not only encouraging customers to shop around for the best deal but also giving them the tools to do so. The government's website energymadeeasy.gov.au makes it easy for customers to compare all energy offers available in the market and to make the switch. We've also added new features to the website to make it even easier to compare deals, including for solar feed-in credits. I would encourage all energy customers, whether you're a household or a small business, to check out the website, review your energy policy and find a cheaper power plan.
Can the minister please advise how the Morrison government's approach is ensuring that energy remains affordable for small businesses, particularly in my home state of New South Wales, and is the minister aware of any risks to this approach?
Yes, I am. Since we introduced the default market offer, the average small business in New South Wales could have saved up to $3,124 a year. That is in stark contrast to and would be put at risk by those opposite—not for a lack of trying by the Otis group, who have absolutely done their best. They've had some early wins, where they managed to get rid of Mark Butler as the energy spokesman—they thought they were onto something, and well done to Senator Farrell for that—only to have him replaced by Chris 'I love a carbon tax' Bowen. So they get rid of Mark Butler and then straightaway they get hit with Chris Bowen. To add insult to injury, the spokesman for Queensland resources is Murray Watt, who's never seen a resource that he would ever want deployed in any energy source, be in it in Queensland or elsewhere. We're getting on with the job and we're lowering energy prices, in contrast to those opposite. (Time expired)