Senate Matter of Public Importance - Energy

By Senate Matter of Public Importance, Energy

24 June 2024


The truth is that there is only one party in this place that's fighting to lower prices for ordinary consumers and business, and it's the Labor Party and the government. The truth is it can't be wished away. The truth is that there is a war in Europe that is driving up energy prices. The truth is that the last decade of policy inaction under the Morrison—remember him?—Turnbull and Abbott government has meant disinvestment in the Australian energy grid over the course of the last decade, with four gigawatts out and only one gigawatt in. That is the price of policy stasis. That is the price of letting the maddies get in charge of coalition energy policy. That's what Australians experienced, and that's why Mr Taylor, in the lead-up to the last election, hid from the Australian people the electricity price rises that were coming their way because of the failures of the last government. What he did was totally improper. It's totally consistent with Mr Dutton's and Mr O'Brien's approach today—hiding the true costs of their nuclear hoax for ordinary Australians.

What the Labor Party is doing in government is supporting households and business. There will be $300 off bills in just seven days. There were the measures that we took last year to put a cap on gas and coal prices. We put in place an orderly framework and a straightforward platform for investment that is seeing project after project being invested in. Of course, as Senator Sharma says, there is a role for gas as a transition fuel in that process. That is what we as a government are doing.

What is Mr Dutton's answer to that proposition? It's to vote against all of the measures put in place by the Labor Party to put downward pressure on prices. But, secondly, it's to search around the globe for the most expensive, the most costly and the most improbable proposition for Australia in energy policy terms—nuclear. It's the only measure guaranteed to do two things. One is put to upward pressure on prices. While Mr O'Brien can't say if it's two per cent, five per cent, 10 per cent or 40 per cent of the energy mix in 2050 under their dodgy, uncosted, risky, expensive plan, the one thing we know that it will do is push up prices for consumers. The second thing that we know it will do is create disinvestment, capital flight. Investment will find a more rational location not characterised by the policy incoherence of the show opposite. If ever they form government, investors will go somewhere else to build the energy systems of the future. Investors will go somewhere else to build manufacturing facilities. So it would mean upward pressure on prices and sharply increasing costs for households and business, and the manufacturing industry that we are fighting so hard to build would be forced offshore into other locations. That is the real truth about the hoax perpetrated on Australians last week, and it will steadily unravel. It will steadily unravel because it is so dishonest.

What we also saw was the arrogance and the nastiness of Mr Dutton when he said, 'You are going to get nuclear under Peter Dutton whether you like it or not.' If a state government says, 'We're not for nuclear,' Mr Dutton says, 'We don't care'—to Mr Minns, or the government of Queensland or the government of Victoria. And if the people of Lithgow or the Hunter Valley don't want nuclear, well, guess what? Mr Dutton says you're getting it whether you like it or not—big Canberra trying to push people around, and the nastiness of the Liberals on full display.