Subjects: Labor deliver hollow energy deal; the government’s broken promise on a $275 cut to your power bills; gas supply.
I’m very pleased to be joined by Ted O’Brien here this afternoon and we want to make a couple of comments obviously in relation to the Prime Minister’s announcement earlier today.
The Prime Minister stood before the Australian people on 97 occasions before the last election and he promised them, he looked the Australian public in the eye, and on those 97 occasions said that power prices would reduce if he was elected by $275. Now that is dead and buried in the announcement today. It’s clear that this is a significant broken promise by the Prime Minister and that Australian families and Australian businesses will pay the price of this Prime Minister’s broken promise.
This is a very difficult situation for families and for small businesses to see a government that has no idea as to what they’re doing. The Prime Minister was in a train wreck press conference today where he could not answer the most basic details. It’s obvious that there is a fracturing between the states and the territories, on the one hand, and the Commonwealth on the other.
This government was elected with a promise to introduce a policy plan which would reduce electricity and gas prices. They’ve had six months to come up with that plan and in their October budget they projected that after two years of Labor policy, power prices would go up by 56 per cent and gas prices would go up by 44 per cent.
It’s clear that nowhere in the world has there been any experience, nowhere in the world has there been any experience of success in capping prices and what the government needs to do is to drive more supply – more gas into the marketplace – instead of reducing supply at a time when you’ve got increased demand.
When you look at the situation that faces our country over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, you’ve got eight per cent inflation under this government, you’ve got rising unemployment under Labor, you’ve got higher mortgages under Labor and interest rates are going to be higher under Labor than they otherwise need to be because of the decisions that they’re making.
This government is an economic train wreck. They have no idea what they’re doing. They float ideas every day and they aren’t honouring the promises that they made at the last election. Power prices are going up and up under the Labor Party and Australian families who thought they were going to get relief from this government and small businesses who thought they were going to get relief from this government just are not.
I’ll ask Ted to say a few words and then we’d be happy to take some questions.
Thank you Peter. Anthony Albanese’s own Cabinet has been deeply divided about how to solve the energy crisis that has been created under their watch. They’ve resolved that disunity by cobbling together a series of manic thought bubbles into the one package that has been delivered to the Australian people in today’s announcement. A package that confirms only one thing to the Australian people, and that is that Labor’s promise of a $275 reduction in household power bills is dead, it is gone, and it will not be coming back under the measures they have introduced.
Everybody who has studied even the basics of economics knows that price is a function of supply and demand. Once you place a price cap down, then you are pushing supply down. The one thing that we have been consistently calling for when in Opposition has been the same thing we delivered when in government and that was the need for more supply. Supply, supply, supply.
But through the energy ministers meeting yesterday led by Chris Bowen and the Prime Minister’s National Cabinet meeting today led by Anthony Albanese, they did the polar opposite. They are introducing measures to kill off the supply of gas, which compromises not just the transition, but prices moving forward. We know therefore, as a result, that prices will go up, reliability will get worse, jobs will be compromised and Australia’s energy security will continue to be jeopardised into the future.
Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese is continually denying that this $275 is a broken promise. Under this plan it would be, I guess your position that there is no way that they could deliver this $275 saving to Australians?
The Prime Minister looked the Australian public in the eye before the election and on 97 occasions he promised solemnly to them that he would reduce power prices by $275. Now what’s telling here is that the Prime Minister since the election in May, has never mentioned that figure once. He came up with some excuse around the war in Ukraine, but the fact is that he made the promise on 27 occasions after the war started in Ukraine in February of this year.
So, the Prime Minister can’t have it both ways. I think, really, the Australian public are starting to see here a real pattern. The economic decisions that the government’s making will drive up interest rates, they’re going to make it harder for families to deal with their cost of living pressures at a time when interest rates are going up, inflation is going up and under this government, gas, electricity, unemployment, everything is going up.
You talked about the fractions in the states and territories, I guess it doesn’t surprise you that Annastacia Palaszczuk last week, standing on the floor of Parliament, talking to David Crisafulli saying ‘hands off our generators, hands off our coal cap’. Today, a press conference after National Cabinet that praised the Prime Minister, praised the cap that they’ve put on that coal price now. Does it surprise you that she’s changed her tune?
The Prime Minister has delivered a model today that’s going to see Queenslanders pay more for their electricity and more for their gas. That’s going to be the long run reality of what the Prime Minister has promised and the Premier has completely sold out Queenslanders. She’s dumped Queenslanders to be beside her political mate in an exercise which is going to increase power prices and gas prices in Queensland and across the country. A Premier who speaks out of both sides her mouth is worth nothing to the public because families who are struggling to pay their power bills, small businesses who are thinking about closing their doors because their power bills keep going up under Labor, can have no comfort, no comfort at all from what the Premier has said today.
The duplicitous nature of the Premier in relation to this issue is, I think really telling about the Premier’s character. She’s abandoned Queenslanders to provide political support to a Prime Minister who’s in trouble and the train wreck interview that the Prime Minister had today demonstrated that he couldn’t even answer the most basic of questions.
I think most Australians would really be shaking their head at this Prime Minister today. I think the other point to make of course, is that surprise, surprise, Chris Bowen is at the centre of another public policy disaster. It’s only a few years ago where he was in charge of FuelWatch and GroceryWatch. He was the worst Immigration Minister, with most people arriving by boat and he was probably – this is a fair call – he was probably the most hopeless Minister in the Rudd-Gillard period. Now, a lot of competition, but he was up there with the gold medal and he’s the one that has designed this dodgy scheme now that’s going to see less supply coming into a market where there’s more demand and the prices are going to go up under Labor.
I think we’re going to look back in 12 months time realising that this was a catastrophic decision made by a very bad government. A government that can’t get the economic calls right and a government that is presiding over economic calls which will see electricity prices go up, gas prices go up and a situation where their mortgages continue to go up and they will go up and up and up under Labor.
Opposition Leader, if you have a look, you’ve made it quite obvious that the Coalition’s position on this is that there is no way that this plan that the Prime Minister has released this afternoon brings the nation out of its energy crisis? Second part of the question, what would the Coalition put forward to Australians to get them out of this?
Well, we’ve been clear from day one, as Ted pointed out before, more supply is needed into the system. You can’t in the budget, fund the environmental activists who are opposed to the gas projects, which is what this government did. They gave the activists money so that they could close down the applications and bog down in the courts any applications for new fields to come online.
All Australians know, if you’ve got increased demand for gas and you’ve got a government restricting supply of gas, the price will go up. So this is a problem of Labor’s making and the Prime Minister has had a huge opportunity since the election to get his act together. He’s just not done that.
These thought bubbles that continue to pop up each day and are cobbled together in a Friday afternoon announcement, from a government that doesn’t know what they’re doing, is not going to help consumers. It’s not going to help small businesses. This government has us on a path at the moment, which is not dissimilar to where Germany is. They’re trying to bring renewables into the system which we all support. You need to firm up renewables because you can’t store the energy of solar panels during the night to get us to the next period of sunshine – that’s the reality. In Germany, you see huge price increases and disruption in supply – so that means blackouts – and that is the path that Chris Bowen is taking us down over the next two or five or 10 years time. That’s the reality.
They couldn’t be making worse decisions than they are at the moment and I worry because Australians are going to pay the price for Labor’s bad decisions. It’s going to mean more pressure on your family budget, it’s going to mean more pressure on your budget in a small business and this is a government that just can’t get the basics right.
Thank you very much.