MPI – Energy

Thursday, 21 March 2024

Mr PITT: I think it’s time in this debate we get some facts on the table. Here are a few. If we’re talking about increases in electricity costs under the Labor government, here are some samples: for Ausgrid in New South Wales, since the Labor government came to power, an increase of 29.5 per cent; for Endeavour Energy in New South Wales, an increase of 37.34 per cent; for Essential Energy in New South Wales, an increase of 30.5 per cent; for Energex in the south-east of Queensland, an increase of 35.73 per cent; and for SA Power Networks in South Australia, an increase of 33.51 per cent. They are facts.

That is an increase of over 30 per cent in the cost of electricity at a time when people can least afford it. That is not helpful for the Australian people. I literally have people who have jobs who are living in cars. They can’t afford to pay their rent; they can’t pay their power bills; they can’t buy food.

This is a challenge that is across the board. But when we look at the proposal from those opposite, no-one is actually considering the cost—the proper cost. Look at some of the correspondence, the discussions and the media reports in recent times. There was a piece by James Morrow in the Daily Telegraph, with numbers from energy economist Aidan Morrison, where it was identified that the cost increase that hadn’t been considered and wasn’t included in Labor’s policy was some $121 billion—he missed it by that much!

The Minister for Climate Change and Energy is the Maxwell Smart of the federal parliament! He has missed it by that much. But, unfortunately, there’s no Agent 99 to rush in and save the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. There is no-one to help him.

I hear the member for Moreton—and I love following the member for Moreton on an MPI—screaming about the proposed costs for nuclear. ‘Three hundred and something billion dollars!’ the member for Moreton screams at the sky. Where did that number come from? There’s only one source. It was the Minister for Climate Change and Energy.

He can’t get this right with literally years of preparation. It’s $120 billion that you’re out, when the cost of electricity has increased by more than 30 per cent across the board and half of the retail price is in transmission. That’s a rough-and-ready number. About 50 per cent of the cost is in transmission. And what is the proposal from those opposite to keep prices down? To build 28,000 kilometres of additional transmission lines. That will go onto the bills of electricity consumers in this country. It is very straightforward; it is simple maths; that is how it works. There is a regulated rate of return that is guaranteed for transmission infrastructure, and the proposal from the federal Labor Party is to build 28,000 kilometres of transmission lines because they can’t get the intermittent wind and solar factories to work—because they physically don’t!

You cannot have something which, as the member for Lyne pointed out, has a utilisation rate of 22 per cent and expect that it will work all the time. It is at 100 per cent, or at times it is at none. That is the reality; that is what it does. Wind is the same.

If we look at the proposals—even the Minister for Resources has said in a statement that the cost for intermittent wind and solar, or what it actually requires, is nine times more resources than an equivalent megawatt of gas. So the proposal from those opposite is that you need nine times more mining, nine times more people working and nine times the downstream processing, and somehow that is cheaper than a per-megawatt gas capacity.

It’s been a while since I was at high school, as I’m sure you’d be aware, but I’m quite confident that if it’s nine times higher, it’s not cheaper. If it is nine times higher, it is not cheaper by any means. Once again, we have a Labor Party that has missed it by that much. The problem in this debate, across the country and with the policy of the federal Labor governments is that that miss is paid for by the Australian taxpayer, the Australian electricity consumer and, more importantly, Australian businesses who will not be competitive. How can you be competitive internationally if your price is far higher than what your competitors are paying in another country? No-one will invest here. We have seen project after project withdraw from this country because they cannot be competitive.

Once again, we have a Minister for Climate Change and Energy who I think—I shouldn’t really call him or compare him to Maxwell Smart, because I think that’s unfair to Maxwell Smart; he got a lot more things right with support from Agent 99 than this minister for energy. When you have people like the former ANSTO chief backing up nuclear, I think that’s a pretty good endorsement.

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