Second Reading – Treasury Laws Amendment (Energy Price Relief Plan) Bill 2022

Thursday, 15 December 2022

Mr PITT: I rise to speak on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Energy Price Relief Plan) Bill 2022. My first message is to my constituents. We will see in coming weeks that whoever the delegated Labor senator is will claim that I voted against support for those people who can’t pay their bills. But the reality is I am voting against the Australian taxpayer subsidising the biggest gouger and the biggest profiteer in the electricity network in this country—that is, the Queensland Labor government under Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Even the Fin Review has said they are taking $5 billion in profits out of the electricity network. They own 70 per cent of the generators—nearly all the transmission. Where I come from, they set the price. The easiest way to get prices down for the people I represent is for Queensland Labor to stop taking so much money out of what should be a service provided by them to people who cannot pay their bills.

Like many other members, I have people who are living in their cars. They cannot pay their power bills now. We don’t use a lot of gas where I come from; it’s relatively limited compared to other parts of the country. But the idea that the state government would take so much money from the network and now be propped up by a decision in this place, by the Australian taxpayer, is, in comparative terms, equal only to the crazy policies of Victoria’s Labor government, where they haven’t developed any gas. The Australian taxpayer will now be propping up those policy decisions by Premier Andrews in Victoria, because they are running out of gas. Even Labor’s own consultation documents say that this will not apply to the Victorian spot market or the Sydney and Brisbane spot markets because it will, in bureaucrat-speak, ‘impact the availability and supply’ and they may well run out.

Mr Deputy Speaker, how is it possible in this country that we could even be in this position? It is because of the very poor decisions of the states, who have constitutional responsibility for onshore resources. I come back to the coal proposal in Queensland. Guess what? The Queensland Labor government own most of the mines. In fact, the forecast price, if you take an estimate, is under $30 a tonne. That is how they can make so much money out of the network.

I’ll come to some quotes. Here’s one from 31 October:

It would have been the easiest thing in the world to borrow more money and spray more cash around but that wouldn’t have been right or responsible. My job is always to prioritise what’s right and responsible and affordable, and not just what’s popular.

Guess who that was, Mr Deputy Speaker? That was the Treasurer, on 31 October.

Last year, Mr Deputy Speaker—as much as I hate to quote myself in this place—in answer to a question from the member for O’Connor on 23 November, I said:

If we look at what has been put forward by the Labor Environment Action Network, they want to get rid of gas stoves and gas heaters. They want to get rid of gas water heaters …

In a point of order, what did the member for Watson, in his previous role, say? He said:

He is not going to alternative policies at all. He is going to wild fantasies that he is making up.

Well guess what’s happened this week, Mr Deputy Speaker? The wild fantasies have come true. The wild fantasies are reality. The wild fantasies are Labor policy. They are saying to the Australian people, ‘You will have to retrofit your kitchen if you have a gas stove or a gas hot water system.’ This is the crazy policy of a green Labor government. They have no idea what it costs for an individual in an existing house to do this. It is tens of thousands of dollars. Not only that; it will drive up demand on the electricity network. If it’s driven high enough—if you combine it with Labor’s policy for EVs, where the forecast is a potential 60 per cent increase in demand—you then have to upgrade the entire network, in subdivisions, in local substations and in transmission. It is tens of billions of dollars!

Not only that, but in one fell swoop, in six months, this Labor government has destroyed Australia’s reputation as a safe place for investment. We have had tens of billions of dollars worth of investment in the resources sector. They made decisions based on the playing field at the time. Not only have those in government shifted the goalposts; they’ve shifted the entire stadium and put it somewhere else. These are companies that have finance agreements and contracts. They have shareholders. They have to report, in terms of their requirements, to the ASX and ASIC, along with everything else they have to do. That is now in tatters. The federal Labor government are worse than the Whitlam government. In fact, what we now see in Australia is that we simply won’t get gas anymore. We will not be using gas, because of the decisions of this government.

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