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Josh Frydenberg - Liberal for Kooyong
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Questions Without Notice (28 February 2017)

Date: Tuesday, 28 February 2017 2:57 PM
Location: House of Representatives

Mr WALLACE (Fisher) (14:57):  My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Energy. Will the minister update the House on what the government is doing to ensure that hardworking Australian families have an affordable and reliable energy supply? How does this compare with alternative approaches that would hurt families and small businesses in my electorate?


Mr FRYDENBERG (Kooyong—Minister for the Environment and Energy) (14:58):  I thank the member for Fisher for his question and acknowledge his deep concern for the fruit growers and the nut growers in his electorate, who are paying higher prices for their electricity—whether it is strawberries, pineapples or macadamia nuts in the Glasshouse Mountains or in Beerwah.

Recently, I met with the Irrigators' Council, who talked about the higher electricity prices impacting on their business, including the fact that one irrigation pump station has seen its electricity prices go from $880,000 a year in 2010 to $1.8 million a year this year, more than a doubling of the price. That is why we are investing record amounts in storage technology—and the Prime Minister has talked about pumped hydro. That is why we are trying to keep sufficient baseload power in the system and that is why we are railing against the 50 per cent renewable energy targets proposed by those opposite. Just yesterday, we saw how confused the Labor Party was about whether or not it would legislate its 50 per cent renewable energy target. Its policy document that it took to the Australian people less than 12 months ago said it would legislate, and then the Leader of the Opposition said last week that it would not.

If that was their only point of confusion, it would stop there, but it is not, because now they are also confused about exactly what is their 50 per cent renewable energy target. The member for Sydney was asked by Tony Jones on Q&A last Monday:

… your 50% renewable target, is that a guaranteed target or has it now turned into an aspiration based on wishful thinking?

The member for Sydney replied:

… it's not about wishful thinking. This is about putting a price on carbon …

Then the Leader of the Opposition backed her up. He told Emma Alberici:

… we should use market forces to set a price …

I thought to myself: 'Is that Labor's policy? What would the hapless member for Port Adelaide, their official spokesman on energy and climate change, say on this issue?' I discovered this gem of an interview that he did with Neil Mitchell. The member for Port Adelaide, their official spokesperson, told Neil Mitchell:

I’ve described very clearly what our policy is, an ETS without a carbon price.

…   …   …

You have got a very definitive answer from me, Neil. You know that.

…   …   …

There is no price on carbon.

…   …   …

That’s about as definitive as anyone could be.

The Labor Party are totally confused. They are not sure if their policy is an ambition, an aspiration, a goal, a target or an objective. They are not sure whether they are going to legislate it or not. Now they do not even know whether it is a carbon price or no carbon price at all. Unfortunately, the Australian people, households and businesses, are going to pay the price of their terrible energy policy.

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