March 23, 2021

What a weak effort from a weak minister! I see he didn't have the guts to mention Shine Energy even once, and there's a good reason for that. It's because, as Kerry Packer said, you only get one Alan Bond in your life, and Shine Energy only got one member for Hume in their life. Just imagine that you're Shine Energy. You're a company that's got $100 in the bank and you happen to owe $70,000 to everyone else. You've got $100 and you owe $70,000 and, along comes the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, who says, 'Take $3.3 million off me.' Shine Energy say, 'Hold on, no. I'm sorry.' In a fit of honesty, they say, 'Even if you give us the money, we can't do this study,' but the member for Hume, being the upstanding minister that he is, says: 'I insist. Take this $3.3 million.' What a joke! What a very lucky company to have run into the minister for energy in that corridor.

The tragedy is knowing what we could have done with that $3.3 million. That would have paid electricity bills for 2½ thousand struggling families in my electorate in Windale, for example. I'm sure every MP sitting here knows of families who struggle to pay electricity bills every day, and that money could have been used for them. It was interesting that the minister started quoting CPI statistics from the ABS. I went and had a look at those stats before question time. The minister always get very selective about when he starts the time series. What if you actually go back to when they won government, because they haven't been in power for only two years. They've had three prime ministers; they had to kill two prime ministers before we got the current one. They've been in power for almost eight years, and what has occurred on electricity prices in that period? Electricity prices since 2012-13 have gone up by 16.4 per cent. They haven't fallen, despite the minister's protestations; they have gone up by 16.4 per cent. That is a direct hit to the budget of every single family in this country.

What about wholesale energy prices? He had some other rubbish statistic that he was quoting there. According to the Australian Energy Regulator, wholesale spot prices in New South Wales in that period, for example, have increased by 50 per cent. So, during this period, we've had retail prices up 16 per cent and wholesale prices—the cost of generating electricity—up by 50 per cent. This minister is a joke. He is a joke who has presided over power prices going through the roof. At the same time, he's presided over renewable energy investment going through the floor. Since 2017, renewable energy investment has fallen by 80 per cent. One would say it's incompetence, but I actually think it's the minister's intention, because this is the same minister who said in 2018 there was 'already too much wind and solar in the grid'. So, clearly, he had a policy goal to destroy it. He has also said that the new climate religion 'has little basis in fact' and he said of large-scale wind that 'it's very clear that it's not economic on any grounds'. He has certainly worked very hard to make sure it's not very economic.

This is a minister who has driven prices up and renewable energy investment through the floor. He attacked Labor's hydrogen policy before the last election and stole it after the election.

An opposition member:  He'll botch it.

Mr CONROY:  And he is botching it. This is a minister who is part of a government that's had 22 energy policies in eight years, including four in 14 days. There was this glorious period in the middle of August 2018 when they had four energy policies in 14 days. Think about that. Think about the innovation and creativity, to change policies four times in 14 days.

What about emissions? The minister brags about emissions. This is another one where the minister cherrypicks data. The truth is that in the six years Labor was in government we cut greenhouse gas emissions by 93 million tonnes. In the eight years they've been in power they have, thanks to the member for New England, who was the policy powerhouse of this government, cut greenhouse gas emissions by nine million tonnes—nothing close to ours. The tragedy is that under this government emissions have stagnated—they're not falling; emissions have stagnated—power prices have gone up and our renewable energy investment has fallen through the floor. This is the tragedy of an incompetent minister who can't even hand over money to a Queensland company properly. They will be condemned by history for this incompetence.