August 04, 2022

At the outset, I'll make it clear that I'll only be speaking for seven minutes, to allow three divisions to get done before adjournment. I want to make that clear to the House. Labor speakers, government speakers, will similarly be curtailed for the good operation of the House.

Let me start by repeating what the Prime Minister has said repeatedly over the last few days: we stand by our policy commitments, including to make power bills cheaper by increasing renewable energy in the system. We stand by our policies, and those policies are part of our broader climate and energy policy package.

The rank hypocrisy of a political party in putting forward this MPI on a day when the climate bills passed through the House of Representatives just demonstrates how irrelevant they are over there. On a historic day, when every member of this chamber—except for the Liberal and National parties—was relevant, participated in the debate, made speeches, moved amendments and contributed to helping end the climate wars, those on the other side were stuck on repeat. They were stuck on Groundhog Day and stuck on perpetuating the climate wars. In the end, what those opposite did was vote against cheaper power prices. Those opposite voted against cheaper power prices through their actions today.

That's not a surprise. You only have to look at their record in government. Whenever there was an opportunity to push power prices up, those opposite took it through their 22 energy policies—and I sadly don't have time to repeat all of them. We had the clean energy target. We had the emissions intensity policy, which lasted for 12 hours. Josh Frydenberg got up in the morning and said, 'Let's have an emissions intensity policy.' By the afternoon, he'd abandoned it. We had NEG 1, NEG 2 and NEG 3; we had UNGI; and we had my favourite—the 'big stick'. It was so effective!

What was the member for Hume's last act as energy minister? What was the member for Hume's last, pathetic, desperate act in the last days of a tawdry, sordid nine-year-old government? It was to change the law to hide an almost 20 per cent increase in power prices. It's not a surprise and is entirely characteristic of a man of that sort. It's not a surprise, because in 2019 the member for Hume, the current shadow Treasurer—we'll see how long he lasts in that role; if he keeps accepting the questions his tactics committee give him, I don't think he's going to last too long—promised that, by the end of 2021, wholesale energy prices would be $70. Well, wholesale energy prices averaged $106 by the end of 2021. Guess what they were in the month of May. Were they $70? No. Were they even $100? Had he managed to keep them stable? No. They were $341 a megawatt hour. He managed to triple it, which is good given his performance in other parts of his portfolio! This is only one small part of his and that horrible, neglectful, decadent government's history. We saw four gigawatts of energy leave the system with only one gigawatt coming in. We saw Snowy Hydro 2.0. We had Malcolm Turnbull's leather jacket moment followed up by the member for Hume, who couldn't answer a question in this House on energy without referencing his relatives, who actually made a contribution. I will pay respect to his relatives who built something at the Snowy Hydro, unlike the member for Hume. And we had $1 billion to support 3,800 megawatts of new power generation, where not one dollar was delivered and not one watt was delivered. That's a great contribution! The other side are great at wasting money, but they couldn't get the money out the door. That's how incompetent the last government were on energy policy.

Now, they're trying to wipe away the record. Apply a bit of Mr Sheen to their record to wipe it away. Wipe it away with a bit of spit and polish, a bit of Mr Sheen. The truth is they lost the election. They had their heartland wiped out. They lost their blue ribbon seats because of their obsession with the climate wars, with 22 energy policies and now they're trying to wipe it out. But, now, they're starting to think about their future. When you have just been wiped out, when you have lost your heartland, when you start thinking about the future, who do you consult? Are there some young dynamos in their party room who will drive this? Is there an energy minister about to leave parliament? Who do you get to talk about the future for the Liberal Party? John Howard.

Mrs McIntosh:

We love John Howard.

Mr CONROY: You love him, obviously. If he's got the recipe for the future, you better get very used to sitting over there.

So you get John Howard to chart out your future and then you go to a safe spot. When you have trauma, you go to a safe place—that's natural. Their safe place is nuclear power, nuclear energy. Whenever they get in trouble, they grip it and the member for Fairfax is obsessed with it. He loves it. He's obsessed with it. What does it mean for power prices? Well, the CSIRO came out with their power price research. They found that firmed-up renewables are $46 a megawatt hour and coal is $141 a megawatt hour. If this is their grand plan, if this is their policy, if this is their vision to get relevant again, you'd think nuclear power might be cheaper than renewable energy and it might be under $41. Well, nuclear power is only $326 a megawatt hour! It's only seven times the cost of firmed-up renewables. That's a great effort.

Before we saw the member for Fairfax, I thought their lowest was the member for Hume, that that was the bottom of the barrel. Now the shadow minister for energy is really taking the cake. This is where this debate is at the moment. On the government side, we've just passed a bill that will end the climate wars, that will give investors certainty, that will allow investors to invest in the clean energy of the future, that will drive lower power prices, that will drive 604,000 new jobs. On the opposite side, they stand for higher power prices and policy irrelevance.