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Josh Frydenberg - Liberal for Kooyong
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Matter of Public Importance (14 June 2017)

Date: Wednesday, 14 June 2017 3:30 PM
Location: House of Representatives

I would have thought the member for Port Adelaide would know better. I would have thought that he would have looked in his own backyard in South Australia and understood what a bad energy policy looks like. And it is spelt Labor—L A B O R.

The member for Swan, the member for Boothby, the member for Maranoa, the member for Goldstein, the member for North Sydney, the member for Hume, the member for Grey, the member for Bennelong—they are in this chamber because they care about good energy policy. And good energy policy depends on a technology-neutral approach. Good energy policy places a premium on energy affordability. Good energy policy places a premium on energy stability and reliability, and good energy policy is consistent with our international agreements, which we take seriously.

In South Australia, in the member for Port Adelaide's own electorate, Adelaide Brighton—450 workers—lost its power for 36 hours. The CEO of Adelaide Brighton said, 'Can't I just expect to be able to keep the lights on so that I can run my own business?' And so did other businesses: BHP at Olympic Dam; Arrium steelworks at Whyalla; and the Nyrstar smelter at Port Pirie. Like the fishermen at Port Lincoln, the cafe owners in Mount Barker and the small businesses in Stirling—right across South Australia—they expect that the lights stay on and that the prices are affordable.

But unfortunately the ideological approach, which is: put renewables first, second and third, without the necessary backup, without the necessary storage, without taking into account the frequency control and ancillary services, the stability and the inertia that you need when you take out synchronous generation from the mix—that is what Jay Weatherill's big experiment looked like. Unfortunately the member for Port Adelaide described 1.7 million people losing their power and $500-plus million lost to his state as 'a hiccup'. The member for Port Adelaide should come into this chamber and apologise to his fellow South Australians.

Today in question time, we also found out that the member for Port Adelaide went on the Insiders show in May this year and was asked directly, 'What did you know when you were in government about the LNG export industry and its impact on domestic gas prices and shortfall?' He said: 'We didn't get any advice. We didn't know.' Well, today in question time we found a smoking gun—or maybe even a bazooka!—and it showed that the Australian Energy Market Operator's report in 2012 warned of shortfalls under the heading 'LNG export market'.

We know that not only was there this AEMO report—this bazooka—but also there was an energy white paper in 2012 which specifically said that there would be 'transitional pressures' on supply and higher prices as a result of the LNG export market in which, when you were in government, the final investment decisions were taken.

Prime Minister Turnbull is cleaning up Labor's mess. That is why he has put in place export restrictions, because we need to get downward pressure on gas prices. We know that in 2014 gas was setting the price of electricity nine per cent of the time, but in May 2017 that figure was 24 per cent. We know that gas prices have tripled in the last five years, and we know that this is a critical part of the energy mix to get electricity prices down. But do you know what is another important part of the energy mix? Those on the other side dare not mention its name—it is kryptonite for the Labor Party! It is coal. Coal is a critical part of our energy mix, making up more than 60 per cent of today's national electricity market. Under Dr Finkel's plan—which he explicitly says is not about the inputs but about the outputs—he has created a system in which coal will be consistently used throughout the decades and will provide more than 50 per cent of the supply up to 2030.

The member for Shortland is looking down now, because the member for Shortland knows that, on the Labor Party's policy, he is sacrificing over 300 jobs in his own electorate in Vales Point. Dare I say, he probably personally supports that power station but, unfortunately, he sits on the other side of the House in opposition—for good reason!—supporting a party that wants to see the forced closure of coal-fired power stations. We know that that side is stuck between their blue collar and their green thumb. We know that that side, on the other side of the parliament, joined with the Greens not that long ago in a motion in the Senate to force the closure of coal-fired power stations. I look across to the member for Wannon, and he cares about the workers in the Latrobe Valley. So does the member for Gippsland. They care about the workers at Loy Yang A, at Loy Yang B and at Yallourn. But the member for Port Adelaide and the Leader of the Opposition do not care. They do not care about the 600 workers at Liddell, in the member for Hunter's electorate.

He says it is not 600. Well, how many is it? How many workers are you prepared to sell down the river? Are you prepared to sell the hundreds of workers in your own electorate and the hundreds of workers in coal-fired power stations across Queensland and New South Wales down the river?

We recognise that you need to have an energy mix that is technology neutral. We recognise that we need more gas for domestic uses. We call upon these Labor state governments to drop their mindless moratoriums and bans on the exploration of conventional and unconventional gas. The disgraceful behaviour of Daniel Andrews in Victoria is pushing up the price for hundreds of thousands of manufacturing workers across his own state, and for 80 per cent of households that are dependent in one form or another on gas, despite having 40 years worth of domestic supply. 

What about the Northern Territory? They are sitting on 180 years worth of domestic supply. What about other states across the country that are not developing the gas they need? We call upon them at the federal level to be more responsible and to bring gas in.

The other area we are focusing on in our energy policy is reining in network and retail costs, because we understand that networks make up about 50 per cent of the bill and retail costs are also a significant proportion of the bill. But what we will not do on this side of the House is pursue the mindless 45 per cent emissions reduction target that we see the Labor Party follow, without understanding its impact on costs and on jobs. We on this side of the House always come back to our values. Our values are about markets. Our values are about families. Our values are about free enterprise. Our values are about the power of the individual over the collective. And, ultimately, our values are about creating jobs not only for Australians today but for Australians tomorrow. Unfortunately, those on the other side of the House believe in their ideological emissions reduction targets that are based on demand destruction, not about creating new jobs.

As long as there is breath in our bodies, as long as we sit on the right side of the Speaker's chair, both in name and in place, as long as we are in charge of the government's coffers, we will ensure energy affordability and energy reliability as we transition to a lower-emissions future. We will put jobs first and foremost.

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