Getting Energy Right

11 Sep 2018 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby) (15:59): I am always really surprised when the member for Port Adelaide wants to talk about power prices and reliability. It was the member for Port Adelaide and his South Australian Labor mates, the failed Weatherill Labor government, who delivered to my home state of South Australia, my constituents and my community, the highest power prices in the world.

What other world firsts did the member for Port Adelaide, the member for Wakefield and their SA Labor mates deliver for the people of South Australia? An unprecedented statewide blackout. It was one of the scariest experiences of my life, as I think it was for many South Australians, and it was a miracle that nobody died. We had sole policemen and policewomen standing in the middle of intersections in peak-hour traffic, in really terrible weather, trying to get people home safely. We had a number of families who lost embryos, that were waiting for IVF transfer, because of this blackout. People's lives were terribly affected by this. How did the member for Port Adelaide describe this unprecedented statewide blackout? As 'a hiccup'. It wasn't a hiccup for the people I have just mentioned, it wasn't a hiccup for my community and it wasn't a hiccup for the state of South Australia. It was a devastating incident.

I thought that today, finally, the lights might have gone on for and within the Labor Party about the importance of power prices and reliability for the Australian people and for each and every one of my voters and constituents in the electorate of Boothby. Securing affordable and reliable power for my community and, indeed, for all Australians is what I am fighting for in this place and what the Morrison government will deliver. As we know, and as I've outlined already, the only governments who have failed the Australian people, and the people of South Australia in particular, on affordability and reliability of power are Labor governments. This is a fact.

As I said in parliament, just after the unprecedented blackout in late 2016:

I am appalled that my home state no longer has secure, reliable and affordable power. We have suffered an internationally unprecedented blackout and we are now facing, nationally, unprecedented high power prices. South Australian residents and businesses can no longer rely on a secure, affordable electricity supply. Families cannot afford to pay their skyrocketing power prices; pensioners and the elderly cannot afford heating or cooling; businesses must now lurch from contract to contract, pushing up the already climbing cost of living. This is the sad reality of energy security in South Australia, and my residents in Boothby and across the state are dealing with this reality every single day.

Things will get worse if a federal Labor government is ever elected, and I will be working so hard to make sure that that is not the case.

We know that the member for Port Adelaide is keen to introduce a 50 per cent renewable energy target. What would that do to reliability and affordability? I believe those opposite also want to see a 45 per cent emissions target. Again, what would that do to reliability and affordability for each and every hardworking Australian out there? Power prices will skyrocket even higher than they did last time under a federal Labor government, and reliability can only decrease further.

This government, led by the Prime Minister, is absolutely committed to reducing power prices while keeping the lights on. We're taking practical action to lower power prices by stopping the price gouging by energy companies, by providing customers with a price safety net and by backing investment in reliable generation and encouraging more competition in the market. We have put pressure on retailers to simplify their offerings, which has resulted in more than 1.6 million households knowing that better deals are available to them. We're banning dodgy discounting practices, getting retailers to notify of price rises more quickly and speeding up meter installations to give back power to customers. These are hardworking Australians—mums and dads, retirees, hardworking small businesses—that this will benefit. My focus is on energy affordability and reliability for each and every
person living in my electorate. That is what I will continue to fight for.