Speeches

Speech - Private Members Business (Energy Security)

May 26, 2017

HON. WAYNE SWAN MP
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR LILLEY

PRIVATE MEMBERS BUSINESS (ENERGY SECURITY)
FEDERATION CHAMBER, CANBERRA
MONDAY 22 MAY 2017
***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***


When I saw this motion, I did not know whether to laugh or to cry. Catastrophic energy policy from this government has seen electricity prices double on their watch. Their dismantling of the carbon price in the scheme put in place by Labor has strangled investment in the energy industry and resulted in a spike in prices which consumers will have to live with for many years to come. It is very clear where the blame for this lies—at those ideologues who run this government and who do not respect market signals. They can be in climate-change denial at the same time as they see prices double as a consequence of removing a rational market in energy.

So energy prices have doubled. What this motion really says is: 'We have a government which is applauding its own incompetence.' It is just simply breathtaking that they could ignore it. The member for Maranoa talked about pensioners in Warwick, a town I know well. I bet he did not tell them that electricity prices were doubling as a consequence of the ideological decisions taken by those opposite. Every step they have taken in four years has not been about ensuring energy security or affordability; it has been the opposite—energy insecurity and unaffordability.

The pricing scheme put in place by the last Labor government was going to drive the investment we needed to keep prices down. The absence of that investment is what has doubled prices. Of course, our scheme put in place way back then was no different to the scheme that had been originally proposed by John Howard and then supported by the current Prime Minister right through to December 2009—until the coalition was taken over by Tea Party extremists with the backing of the Murdoch press and powerful and vested interests in the energy industry who sought to undermine sound policy. Now, of course, the same people who did that—the Business Council of Australia and all their mates—are back imploring this government to put some form of an emissions trading scheme back in. Do not laugh. The Business Council of Australia—the people who run parts of this government—are now asking them to restore a scheme which they destroyed. The irony of businesses now calling for some form of energy intensity scheme, not unlike what Labor had put in place, is absolutely extraordinary.

The campaign of lies that they built to destroy that scheme has come back to bite them on the bum, and what has come out of that is a doubling of electricity prices. So we have had a lost decade that we could not afford on climate and energy policy in this country, and we should never forget the charlatans and opportunists who did that and produced this spike in electricity prices that is hitting the living standards of low-income people right across our country. The responsibility lies with those opposite and nobody else.

A recent report from Melbourne's climate and energy college found that prices have doubled—I repeat 'doubled'. The cost of energy has increased from roughly $65 per megawatt hour under the Labor government's carbon-trading scheme to $134 a megawatt hour today. This is absolutely stunning. Of course, Queensland has been one of the states worst hit by this price hike, so it is laughable that the member for Maranoa comes in here to highlight the Liberals' incompetence in his home state and in his own electorate, because, by eliminating the carbon-trading scheme, the coalition removed the price signals that were needed to drive the necessary investment in gas and in renewable energy to secure our economic and environmental future.

Prior to the abolition of the carbon price we had a huge spike of investment in renewable energy. Now, as I said before, organisations as diverse as the Business Council of Australia are coming back and complaining about a lack of stability and clarity in government policy. They should be ashamed to even appear in public to argue for a carbon price after all of the heat that they constructed. They conspired with the Liberals opposite to get rid of the price on carbon in the first place. They should be ashamed of their actions and so should those opposite

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