Monday, 11 September 2023
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Senator Wong. At last year's election, the Australian people resoundingly voted for action on climate change. Can the minister please explain to the Senate how the Albanese government is getting on with the job of reaching our legislated climate targets and delivering cleaner, cheaper energy for the Australian people?
I'm happy to take another question from another great South Australian senator—that's two in a row to me, and I'm very grateful for that—on the issue of climate targets. I'll take the interjections from those opposite: we were all reminded about the fact there is one party who voted against price relief for Australian families, and that's those opposite.
Well, Australians did vote for us to work to deliver cleaner, cheaper and more reliable energy, and that is the action that the government is seeking to take. Yet despite the very clear message from the Australian people at the last election, it's quite clear those opposite still don't get it. When did we last see that? We saw that over the weekend, at the National's federal conference. I missed it! I missed it, but I came back to all these wonderful quotes. The member for New England, Mr Joyce, submitted a motion that called on the federal party room to 'abolish its policy of net zero'. And who lined up to support it? Mr Pitt and Senator Canavan. The Liberal leader, Mr Dutton, tried to shut down the chaos by saying, 'They might be saying that, but the coalition had "recommitted" to net zero.' As for the Nationals leadership team, I'll tell you what—such leadership—they abstained. Oh, my goodness. You have the man who wants to be the alternative prime minister of Australia, Mr Dutton, saying 'We "recommitted" to net zero,' you have Mr Joyce looking to abolish the policy of net zero, and then the leadership from Mr Littleproud—
Honourable senators interjecting—
Thank you for that answer. There are so many things to refer to over the weekend's extravaganza from those opposite. Can the Minister please inform the Senate why large-scale renewable energy projects are so important to delivering cleaner, cheaper energy to the Australian people with the flourish of leadership that we see from Senator Wong?
Investing in renewable energy is not only cleaner but it is also cheaper for households, businesses and industry, and we are working with state and territory governments to improve energy security and reliability by attracting investment in firm renewables. The CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator said projects that do this will play a key role in protecting Australians from energy risks and challenges ahead.
But what do see from those opposite and particularly the leadership of the Nationals? First, we see the great leader, the member for Maranoa, not only abstaining on the motion I referred to in the primary but also publicly calling for a pause in the rollout of renewable energy. Another motion passed at their conference demanded a moratorium on all large-scale renewable energy projects. All large-scale renewable energy projects. Who is actually running policy over there? Is it Mr Dutton who is recommitted? Senator Canavan put his hand up and I agree.
Honoura ble senators interjecting—
Honourable senators interjecting—
I respect your ruling there, President, but we have had a question which has almost obsessively and exclusively focused on one of the opposition party's political conference. I think it's fair to have some leeway. I've got no problem with Senator Wong doing that, but if you're going to give it, you'd better be able to receive it too.
The opportunity for receiving it is not question time. There are other opportunities during the week. I would invite senators—particularly those on my left—not to interject because the Minister is entitled to respond to interjections. Minister, please continue.
It is widely known that even small, modular nuclear reactors are tracking to be up to five times more expensive than firmed wind and solar in 2030. I don't know where all the rational economic thinkers are over there. Nuclear costs rose 36 per cent between 2009 and 2021. Solar costs fell 90 per cent and 72 per cent over the same period.
But we know that those opposite prefer ideology to evidence. Last week it was reported that at their party room they had members put the idea of nuclear power plants on the agenda. They're clearly keen to add to their 22 failed policies. They want another one. They want to add to the 22 failed climate and energy policies. Whether it was underwriting new coal while businesses were backing renewables or it is nuclear, we know where they are. (Time expired)