Take note of Answers - Energy

I too rise to take note of answers from question time and, in particular, I note the answers that were given by Senator Cormann in relation to questions about the government's approach to company tax cuts. The Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan is absolutely important to ensuring Australia's competitiveness, and the coalition makes no apologies for fighting for lower taxes for business. The reason for that is that every time we do all we can to help businesses big and small succeed we create opportunities to help workers, big and small, in their incomes to get ahead.

We make no apologies, not today and not ever, for our efforts to make sure there are more and more jobs being created for more and more Australians. As we have accomplished that objective in relation to small- and medium-sized businesses, we have seen the dividends paid in the form of record employment in this country. We now have workforce participation at its highest level ever and, to top it off, we have full-time jobs at their highest level ever. If that was not enough, the number of people who now require welfare in order to survive is at its lowest rate ever. It is a terribly good sign that the policies of this government that are driving economic growth, that are driving investment, are working. And we shouldn't stop here. We should continue to do all that we can to make it easy for businesses to get ahead. When they do, all Australians get ahead. When we create more jobs, when we invest more in Australian opportunities, the dividend is paid many times over.

We heard much in question time today about the topic of energy. But it seems that those opposite have awfully short memories. I clearly recall that, during six years of Labor government, things happened to energy prices. But what were they? Prices didn't go up once or twice. They didn't triple. No, during that time electricity prices went up six times over. It's just not good enough. Australians deserve better.

Let's remind those opposite of the failings of the previous federal and state Labor governments. They continued over and over to increase pressure on prices, and they did that by imposing job-destroying gas bans and moratoriums. They imposed unrealistic renewable energy targets and they expressed open hostility to investment in baseload power. What that has done is spook the market so badly that even the ACCC, in its recent report, has indicated how important it is that the government show support to investment in baseload energy, because of the mess that has been made by successive governments in this field.

One has got to commend the government for being willing to tackle this difficult issue. Australians are depending on this government to take action to reduce energy prices. I'm proud to be part of a government that has a party room process that involves contributions from all of its members, where all can contribute the best of their ideas so that we can once and for all deal with the mess that has been created in the field of energy, so that we can make sure that we deliver what Australians truly want and need. And what is that? It is affordable energy, it is cheap energy and it is reliable energy. We need to know that, when we turn the light switch on, it's going to work. Businesses need to know that, if they depend on refrigeration, they're going to be able to afford the bill. That has not been a sure thing in recent years.

I commend the government for being willing to deal once and for all with the problem of energy in this country by ensuring that we put downward pressure on prices and that there is the investment required to make sure there is reliable energy available for all. And it's working. The government's action has already had positive effects. Wholesale electricity prices are down by around 25 per cent compared to last year—a whole quarter! As of 1 July, retail power bills have been reduced right across New South Wales, South Australia and, importantly, in my home state of Queensland.