Subjects: QLD police tragedy; Labor deliver hollow energy deal; cost to recall Parliament; the government’s broken promise on a $275 cut to your power bills; gas supply.
I want to start with the tragic loss of life. I think Queenslanders are in shock at the moment. I think Australians are in shock at the depravity of what’s happened here. Two young police officers just going about their work; and to their families and to the entire police family, I just want to extend my sympathies again. This is a terrible time that they’re going through, and the brutality, the premeditated coldness of this attack is quite astounding and it’s jarring. I know the whole police family is hurting and they will for a long time because this is a tragic loss of life and the work that has been done since to contain the scene, to make sure that the forensics people can now do their work, etc.. The work still continues on, so it will be a harrowing scene and experience for those police who are still involved in the investigation, and all of that which will be required by the coroner etc.. So, it’s a very dark day for Queensland, a very dark day for our country when we lose two young police officers in this execution style murder. To their families and to the police family more broadly, I send my deepest condolences.
I wanted to make a couple of comments in relation to the recall of Parliament. As you know, the Prime Minister has recalled Parliament at great expense – over one million dollars – and he had a trainwreck press conference last Friday and promised that the legislation would be released in time. It hasn’t been released and Parliament is sitting on Thursday. So there is no time for consideration of what’s being put before us. That’s not just for the Liberal Party or for the Coalition, but for The Greens and independents as well.
The Prime Minister is clearly looking for a political wedge here because the Coalition’s been clear about our support of the $1.5 billion, or support going to families who are really suffering under this government with increased energy costs, particularly their electricity costs and their gas costs, but the reality is that this government has no plan.
The Prime Minister went to the election promising on 97 occasions that he would reduce power prices by $275, it’s just not going to happen. Now, they’re plucking this figure of $230 out of the air and they can’t explain how it is they’re going to arrive at that figure.
So, I think Australians, and particularly those on fixed incomes, those in small business, are really starting to worry that this Prime Minister has his economic L-plates on and he doesn’t know what he’s doing. The government’s been flying flags for the last couple of weeks. If they had a plan, they should have presented it in the October budget. They had five months between the May election and the October budget to put together their plan, and now we’re finding a day away from Parliament being recalled, a week before Christmas, the government still hasn’t released its legislation.
If they’re trying to find a political wedge by putting the cap into the same piece of legislation as the compensation, well it shows everything about this Prime Minister. He said before the election that he wasn’t about politics, that he was about a new Parliament and all the rest of it, and now we find out that he wants to try and find a political opportunity to wedge the Coalition. Well, Australians aren’t stupid Prime Minister, they see through these sorts of political stunts.
We do want to see support for families, we do want to see a reduction in energy prices, and it is the case that in the October budget, Labor predicted that after two years of their policy, electricity prices would go up by 56 per cent and gas would go up by 44 per cent. The plan that they’ve cobbled together now is all about electricity prices frankly going up, and that’s exactly what they’re going to do under this government, particularly if there is less supply of gas going into the system.
I make this very important point. The most important decision that the Prime Minister could arrive at is to bring more gas into the system. If he doesn’t do that at a time when there’s increasing demand, your electricity prices and your gas prices under Labor will continue to go through the roof.
If the Prime Minister hasn’t got the legislation ready, he shouldn’t recall Parliament at great expense. If he needs legislation, it’s not for the $1.5 billion to provide support to families – bring that on in a separate Bill – and as I said, we will support that and we’ll support whatever can be provided by way of relief to families. But at the moment, you’ve got a Prime Minister who has his economic L-plates on. He doesn’t know which way to jump and it’s Australian families who are going to pay the price for that.
Happy to take any questions.
I guess, so, can you just more specifically kind of clarify what the Opposition’s stance is on the government’s energy intervention?
Well, the government hasn’t released its legislation. I mean quite remarkably, the Prime Minister made this announcement last week. There was obviously a lot of dissent between the Premiers and Chief Ministers on the one hand and the Prime Minister on the other.
But he put out a statement. They’ve been working on it over the weekend. Here we are, a day away from Parliament being recalled at a cost of $1 million dollars to Australian taxpayers, and the Prime Minister still doesn’t have a Bill for us to consider.
So, The Greens, I suspect, are angry about this. The independents in the Lower House and the Upper House will be shaking their head as to why the Prime Minister is recalling Parliament when he doesn’t have a Bill for us to consider. If you’re going to take more gas out of the market, at a time when you’ve got more demand, you’re going to increase prices and that’s not something that we’re going to support.
So, you won’t allow it?
Well, we’ve been very clear in relation to the price cap that we don’t support that because it’s going to be the Australian consumers – both households and small businesses – who will end up paying higher electricity prices for that.
You’re already seeing the gas companies talk about restricting supply into a market. That was entirely predictable and the Prime Minister should be sitting down with the companies, not firing shots through Chris Bowen at them. He should be sitting down and doing a deal so that we can get downward pressure on energy prices, but every decision that Labor’s made so far since they’ve been elected, has put upward pressure on interest rates and upward pressure on energy costs.
Do you believe that gas exporters have been profiteering from the war in Ukraine?
Well again, I mean if the Prime Minister has evidence of any wrongdoing, he should provide that evidence, but it’s not. I mean the Prime Minister was elected in May. He’s got a budget handed down in October. You would have thought if they had a plan, if they’d properly considered the situation, in their budget they predict that energy prices are going up, they predict that inflation will be eight per cent next year. So, if they had a plan, why didn’t they present it in the October budget? It’s clear every day since that they don’t have a plan and that they’re looking for a political wedge and Australians, I’m sorry, just will see straight through that.
This is a Prime Minister, frankly, that’s conducting himself more like Mark Latham and Gough Whitlam than Bob Hawke, where he’s got his L-plates on and on every question around the budget and economics, he doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. The problem is that Australian families and small businesses are the ones that are copping the hit in their hip pocket.
The gas sector is particularly hot under the collar over the reasonable pricing element of the mandatory code of conduct. Do you share these concerns?
Well again, this is a plan that hasn’t been consulted on. The legislation is not even before us to consider. No wonder the companies are expressing concern because there’s been no consultation with them either.
You’ve got Ed Husic and Chris Bowen – I mean Chris Bowen was probably the worst Minister of the Gillard period – and here he is out there trying to make it up as he goes along. Labor’s got this plane mid-flight and they’ve got no idea. They continue to just put these thought bubbles out there and they’re putting it all together in a rushed fashion which is going to end up in a real mess and Australian consumers will pay the price for Labor’s disaster.
It is exactly what happened in the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years where on questions of economic matters, they just don’t know what they’re doing and that is a real problem for us in an environment where you’ve got increasing unemployment, increasing inflation, increasing interest rates, increasing electricity prices, and increasing gas prices under Labor and a Prime Minister that doesn’t have a clue as to what he’s doing.
You say that the key to bringing down gas prices is supply, but isn’t increasing supply a longer-term prospect only rather than short-term?
No, it’s not and again, in the October budget the government provided specific funding to groups to take legal action against companies that wanted to bring more gas supply into the system. They’re ideologically opposed to gas as a fossil fuel. But the trouble is, if you turn off coal and you turn off gas, then the lights go out because we all want to see renewables in the system, but the renewables need to be firmed up. If the renewables can’t be firmed up through gas, then you’ll see the unreliability in the system that we’ve seen in other parts of the world – in Germany, in California, in many other jurisdictions – because the new system is not yet ready.
This government is experimenting, they’re worried more about ideology than they are about helping families and it’s on show here with a Prime Minister that just can’t get it right.
In regards to this horrible, horrible shooting event that unfolded on Monday, we’re hearing some more details obviously coming out as the days go by, in terms of the characters of these men and some of the situations there. As you obviously hear more, just how concerning are some of these details and some of the things they would be perhaps saying were involved in, the particulars around the shooters themselves?
I just think it’s a harrowing detail that gets released day-by-day as we find out more about these individuals. They’re callous murderers and they have taken families and torn them apart on the eve of Christmas. You’ve got young police officers who were just doing their work. They were going there to check on an individual to make sure that he was okay, and he ended up murdering them. It’s the brutality, the premeditated nature and the viciousness of what we’re now understanding unfolded on that property that has really shaken people.
We’ve all seen horrific police murders before. We’ve attended funerals, we’ve spoken with families, and every one of those deaths is an absolute tragedy. But in this case, when you hear about the preparations that took place, the activities online, the twisted mental health issues, obviously, that fed into the thinking and the actions of these individuals.
As the Commissioner rightly pointed out yesterday, it’s hard to imagine how the remaining two police officers escaped without losing their lives. These families who would have been making preparations for Christmas, to sit down with their loved ones – if in fact they had days off – perhaps they were going to be working through and they were going to be working on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, when the rest of us were spending time with our families so that we could do it safely – and their lives had been cut short in the most brutal fashion.
This is something that you would see in other parts of the world, in Colombia, for example, but not in our country. It really should be a warning about the threats that our police face and we should all be saying a prayer and giving an extra thought to those that have lost their lives, but to their families as well, and the broader police family. They will all be in considerable pain right now and it’s appropriate that we really stop, pause and think about the sacrifice that they make for us on a daily basis.
Thank you very much.