Coalition Government’s Failure on Energy Policy


Peter Khalil: I’m pleased to join this debate on a topic of such vital importance not only for the nation but for the world. The contrast between the coalition government and the Labor opposition on energy policy could not be starker. Yes, the coalition government’s policy is in paralysis, but it is also stagnant, it is stultified and it’s incapacitated. In short, it’s a shambles. Four policies were destroyed, shredded in the Liberal party room: the emissions trading scheme, the emissions intensity scheme, the clean energy target and the National Energy Guarantee. It’s an utter failure. It’s a momentous failure. It’s a horrible failure for the Australian people who are suffering high energy prices and for future generations of Australians, who expect us to address climate change.

The coalition’s failure to adopt and implement any energy policy has not only torn their own party room to shreds; it has hurt Australian business with an uncertain investment outlook. It has hurt consumers through skyrocketing energy prices. It has hurt the environment through a complete disregard for emissions reduction targets. It’s a disgrace that the Liberal Party’s division and chaos means Australians will go into this summer fighting heightened risk of blackouts.

The Prime Minister junks the NEG and destroys any chance of having an energy policy in place before summer. Instead he appoints a new antirenewables energy minister, who in his first speech as minister said he would not even try to deliver energy policy certainty. The minister is just one of many in the coalition who are utterly out of touch on energy policy. They call themselves the Monash Forum. What an insult to the Monash family. They are more Dad’s Army than they are successors of General Monash. They are the climate change deniers. They are dinosaurs who want to walk backwards to the fossil fuel past, oblivious or, worse, conscious of the threat of climate change but ultimately unwilling to face it for the sake of their own children and grandchildren.

The member for New England, who is not in the House, said he would prefer to prioritise coal-fired power stations over the Snowy 2.0. The member for Warringah has called on the government to ‘address the political risk that’s stopping power companies from investing in new coal-fired power stations. There’s no market failure here, just government failure.’ The member for Hughes is strident in his support for building more coal-fired power plants. He’s acknowledged that the private sector investment in coal might not be forthcoming, so he says, ‘The government may need to step in and assist in building a new coal-fired power station.’ I challenged him this morning to rule out support for a taxpayer funded coal-fired power plant. He refused. I ask him, and his compatriots in the climate-denying Dad’s Army, again: do you want to spend $4 billion of taxpayer money on a coal-fired power plant?

Labor has articulated an energy policy that is progressing and progressive, that tackles climate change and reduces energy costs—a 45 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030; a commitment to 50 per cent renewables by 2030; and a 10-year, billion dollar renewable energy investment framework that delivers certainty for industry, lower power prices and more reliability. We’ll also help ordinary Australians slash their power bills with a new national target of one million household battery installations by 2025 and a $2,000 rebate for 100,000 households on an income of less than $180,000 a year to purchase and install battery systems. The policy of federal Labor measures perfectly without of my own state of Victoria, and the re-elected Andrews Labor government, while also helping Victorian households cut their electricity bills through the solar homes package, which offers rebates of up to $2,225 on the cost of a solar PV system and up to $1,000 on the installation of solar hot water system.

My constituents tell me that they want effective action on climate change. Victorians want effective action on climate change. Australians want effective action on climate change. I’ve heard this time and time again in the many meetings I’ve had in my own electorate with stakeholders such as Climate Action Moreland and Moreland Energy Foundation and also with organisations like the Earthworker Cooperative, who are building solar batteries. They all know, as do thousands of my constituents and millions of Australians, the Labor government can deliver that action, not the Greens political party, who talk a big game but never deliver—or can’t deliver—and not this coalition government, who brazenly hide from their responsibilities to future generations. Australians know that a Labor Party in government, if elected, will deliver on climate change policy for the benefit of all Australians and future generations.