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Josh Frydenberg - Liberal for Kooyong
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Questions Without Notice (10 May 2017)

Date: Wednesday, 10 May 2017 6:21 PM
Location: House of Representatives

Mr VASTA (Bonner) (14:58):  My question is to the Minister for the Environment and Energy. Will the minister update the House on action taken by the government to ensure a secure, reliable and competitive energy system for hardworking Australians? Is the minister aware of any obstacles to achieving this?

Mr FRYDENBERG (KooyongMinister for the Environment and Energy) (14:59):  I thank the member for Bonner for his question. I acknowledge his deep concern about the rising electricity prices for those in his electorate, such as major businesses like Incitec Pivot at Gibson Island that have 80 per cent of their import costs linked to energy costs.

In the budget there was a $265 million energy package, including a $90 million gas package with $30 million for bioregional and geological assessments and $28 million to accelerate the development of gas reserves. There is $19 million to develop pipeline capacity and trading facilities, extra money for the ACCC and studies into two particular pipelines—one from the Northern Territory to South Australia and one from Western Australia to South Australia. Indeed, South Australia was a big winner, because the South Australian government will get an extra $36 million for energy security infrastructure and $110 million for a solar thermal project at Port Augusta. And, of course, there was the Snowy Hydro announcement by the Prime Minister, showing our willingness to take a greater share of that nation-building project.

So no wonder the budget measures that we announced last night were welcomed. They were welcomed by Energy Networks Australia, who said, 'We welcome government support for measures to keep the lights on.' The Clean Energy Council said it was a 'sensible package of initiatives worth $265 million to facilitate the transition of the energy sector'. There was support from the Minerals Council, APPEA and others.

Therefore, I was quite perplexed to see tweets go out from the member for Port Adelaide and from the member for Melbourne minutes after the Treasurer's speech, saying there was nothing in the budget for energy, nothing in the budget for renewables and nothing in the budget for climate change. We announced, of course, $110 million for a solar thermal project and, of course, a major investment in the Snowy hydro scheme. If the member for Melbourne had a look at his own renewables document, nine times that document mentions hydro power and pumped hydro facilities as being an important renewable energy technology. ARENA describes it as being 'the most advanced and mature renewable energy technology'.

So this government is concerned about rising electricity prices, is taking concrete action to deliver reforms and is determined to get a more secure and more affordable system in place as we transition to a lower emissions future, and last night's budget will put in place a number of important measures to get us there.


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