Matters of Public Importance - Energy

Australian families and small businesses will benefit from the government's plan for affordable and reliable energy, while they would suffer enormously under the plans that are put forward by Labor, which can be described as nothing more than a throwback to the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years and all of the disasters that that entailed. But, before I get onto that, let me say a few things about the Morrison government's plan for energy. For all of the complaining that we hear on the other side, there is a simple, clear, practical plan that we have seen is already reducing prices for Australian households and Australian businesses.

First, there's a price safety net to stop big power companies ripping off loyal customers who don't have time to shop around all the time for a better deal. By knowing what that base rate is, consumers will be better able to determine what really represents good value. And it will stop situations where, as we've already seen, some households are paying over $800 more per year, and small businesses nearly $3,500 more per year, than the cheapest market offer they've had. Second, we will stop price gouging and dodgy practices by big energy companies, including banning sneaky late payment penalties and making energy retailers pass on savings and wholesale prices through to consumers. These two policies are part of the government's big-stick approach which is designed to stop the rip-offs and lower power prices. You can see the opposition mock this big stick all they like, but they have to mock it because they've got nothing to compare to it. If all they can do is ridicule, it shows they have nothing to match the robustness of these measures.

The approach is already having an impact. AGL have announced cheaper power prices for over 150,000 families and 27,000 businesses. On the other hand, the Labor Party have made it clear that they're not interested in challenging these big energy companies and, instead, would prefer to protect their record profits rather than protecting consumers. While Bill Shorten shows by his actions rather than by his words that he's on the side of big energy companies every day of the week, the Morrison government have shown that we are always on the side of working Australians and small businesses.

Third, we're backing investment in reliable power by underwriting new electricity generation to improve competition, increase supply and reduce wholesale energy prices. Fourth, we are supporting 24/7 reliable power by requiring energy companies to sign contracts that guarantee enough energy to meet demand through a reliability obligation. Clearly and simply, the coalition stands for more affordable and reliable power.

The contrast with Labor could not be starker. They can talk about things being messy all they like but, boy, there's a lot of mess on their side. Not only is this motion a mess but so too is Mr Shorten's plan for energy. Take the big battery proposal. Families come to the doors of representatives in this place day in, day out saying they cannot afford their quarterly energy bills. They demand, ask and plead that we do something about it, and Labor's answer is to say, 'Well, we'll give you a $2,000 subsidy on a big battery if you chip in $10,000 to $20,000.' If you can't afford your quarterly energy bill, you can't afford to shell out for a great big battery. And, of course, the last time Labor offered to install things in the houses of Australians, it was pink batts, and we all know how well that ended up—burning rooftops and Australians losing their lives. I know this is just another invitation for the kind of big government chaos that characterised Labor's last government, and we need to do all we can to stop a repeat of that happening in this country. It is an elitist policy, it is an unfair policy and it is a policy that puts virtue signalling on renewables over the practical bills of Australians, and that's something that the coalition does not tolerate. The coalition will fight every day of the week for cheaper energy prices for all Australians and their small businesses.