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Josh Frydenberg - Liberal for Kooyong
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Questions Without Notice (29 March 2017)

Date: Wednesday, 29 March 2017 2:37 PM
Location: House of Representatives

Mr PASIN (Barker) (14:37):  My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Energy. Will the minister update the House on the cost South Australians are faced with in order to stabilise the state's energy system, and the role the federal government continues to play in securing our energy future? Minister, are you aware of any alternative approaches?

(Kooyong—Minister for the Environment and Energy) (14:38):  I think the member for Barker for his question and I acknowledge his deep concern for the rising electricity prices across the state, like for the family-owned, fourth-generation South Australian business JT Johnson & Sons, which produces hay pallets for domestic use and for export. It has seen its energy bill go up by nearly $1 million. That is why we on this side of the House are focused on important reforms to rein in retail costs, to rein in network costs, to invest record amounts in battery storage, and also to get more gas into the market. Just today, with Ministers Sinodinos and Canavan, we were able to get a commitment from the pipeline operators that they would work with the gas suppliers to ensure that they would meet any shortfall for gas in the domestic market in the years ahead.

Just today, Jay Weatherill, the Premier of South Australia, has been revealed as having no clothes, because just two weeks ago, when he was announcing his $550 million apology note to the people of South Australia, he was asked five times whether it would be cheaper to keep the Northern Power Station open. He said that keeping the Northern Power Station open would not provide him with the services that South Australia needs. But today we have found out that it will. It would be cheaper—22 times cheaper—than his $550 million apology note to the people of South Australia. We have also found out today, with the announcement by ENGIE that it has secured the gas contracts, that the Prime Minister's efforts in getting the gas suppliers to put more gas into the domestic market are working. I spoke to the CEO of ENGIE and he was very grateful for the government's efforts. Now we are seeing ENGIE bring on the Pelican Point mothballed plant. It will ensure that a second layer of paint is now on Labor's white elephant in South Australia, which is a new government funded gas-fired power station.

We know that the Premier of South Australia has undertaken a big experiment. We know that he was in denial. We know that he blamed the market operator, that he blamed the weather, that he blamed the federal government, that he blamed the lack of a carbon tax for the blackouts that have occurred across his state. But, now, the people of South Australia know the real cost of his failures and of his big experiment. Unfortunately, the Leader of the Opposition wants to take this 50 per cent RET national, which means increased prices for households and businesses, like JT Johnson & Sons, and a much less stable energy network, which Australia cannot afford.

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