Matters of Public Importance - Energy Affordability

21 March 2024

Ms BYRNES (Cunningham): Deputy speaker I must say – the hypocrisy of this MPI today is astounding, and during Science Meets Parliament Week no less! It’s yet to be seen whether those opposite believe in science, but I won’t hold my breath!

Thanks to those opposite we inherited an energy crisis in 2022. They had 22 energy policies, but they couldn’t land a single one!

I think those opposite may have a slight issue with selective memory, but don’t worry I’ll help you out. Just in case you forgot, during your decade in office, 24 of our country's coal fired power stations announced they would close.

Not only that, but eight stations actually closed under their watch, despite their coal wielding leader who was in no rush to actually put one of their 22 policies in place.

On Tuesday, the release of the draft Default Market Offer (DMO) showed the retail energy bill benchmark stabilising and trending downwards after the biggest global energy crisis in 50 years!

The draft DMO shows price reductions in most jurisdictions – with up to nearly 10 per cent reduction for some small businesses and up to more than 7 per cent reduction for some households.

Whilst the evidence shows that our plan is working, we know families and businesses have still been doing it tough and we’re not backing away or hiding from the problem like those opposite – remember when they changed the law to hide a 20 per cent energy price hike before the election? We do.

We’re doing all we can to support Aussie families and businesses, and that’s why we urgently capped skyrocketing coal and gas prices and have been rolling out bill relief to around five million households and small businesses since July last year. Remember when those opposite voted against urgent bill relief for millions of Australians – including pensioners, low-income families, veterans? We do.

The Albanese Labor Government’s plan is the only one supported by experts to deliver a clean, cheap, reliable and resilient energy system.

It’s supported by independent advice from the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) that the lowest-cost plan for a reliable energy grid is Australia’s world-leading renewables like solar and wind, firmed up with batteries, pumped hydro, flexible gas and transmission.

That’s what our 82 per cent renewables by 2030 plan delivers – and we’re getting on with the job. Last year alone we saw:

• record investment in batteries and large-scale storage, with $4.9 billion in new financial commitments
• 27 large scale batteries under construction at the end of 2023
• Over 337,000 rooftop solar systems installed across the country , and
• 5.9 GW of renewable generation added

And whilst the opposition are out there playing by scare tactics and smoke screens with farce nuclear plans, we know nuclear energy is wrong for Australia.

It is far too expensive and will take far too long to build. Our chief scientists and market operators know this. Business knows this. And the energy market themselves know this.

Even AGL, the single biggest owner of coal-fired power stations in Australia have left Peter Dutton out in the cold, by ruling out building nuclear plants at the sites of their retiring generators.

But I must say, our Prime Minister put it best yesterday:

“…nuclear power is a lot like the Liberal Party: no help to anyone today, completely wrong for Australia's future, and notorious for waste that takes forever to clean up."

The Albanese Labor Government is committed to ensuring Australia has a reliable energy system over the coming decades, whilst those opposite are dreaming up a recipe for disaster and a reliability crisis.

All month we have been waiting for those opposite to release their nuclear plan – but we find out this week they are yet to work out just four small issues: safety, disposal, cost and location.

Deputy speaker we understand rising bills are of one of the big challenges facing Australian families and small businesses, and that’s why we’re rolling out targeted relief that wont increase inflation.

On July 1 this year, Labor will deliver a tax cut for every Australian taxpayer, because on this side of the chamber, we want Australians to earn more and keep more of what they earn.

Our changes mean all 13.6 million taxpayers will receive a tax cut – 2.9 million more than would have benefited from the Opposition’s plan from five years ago.