26 May 2022

CHRIS BOWEN, MEMBER FOR MCMAHON: Good morning. Nine years of Liberal denial and delay have a cost and that cost is being paid by the Australian people by Australian households in higher energy prices.

Today we have the Australian Energy Regulator’s release of the new default market price. This is bad news for Australians who buy electricity in the markets impacted by today's decision. Higher prices are a result of nine years of policy failure. Now, of course, there are international factors at play here. Of course, geopolitical circumstances are impacting on Australian markets in many ways. But the fact of the matter is the lack of energy policy, the lack of investment in new energy, the lack of investment in renewable energy and the lack of transmission over the last nine years, means that Australians are paying more for electricity than they should be.


The Morrison government may have been defeated on Saturday, but its legacy continues and its legacy is higher power prices. This is difficult news for Australian families and Australian households. But the better news is there is now a Government with a plan in place. A plan to see more renewables the cheapest form of energy come on to the system, a plan to see a big investment in transmission to get the energy from where it's generated at lowest cost to where it's consumed. All this will provide ongoing downward pressure on energy prices. But in the meantime, Australian families who are already facing a cost of living crisis as a result of nine years of Liberal neglect will be impacted by these increases in many instances today.


People can shop around, these are default market offers, they are not the only offer available, people can go to energymadeeasy.gov.au  but that doesn't make it easier in and of itself. It simply gives people more options. Fact of the matter is higher energy prices are bad news. The fact of the matter is higher energy prices are very much the Liberal legacy. Nine years of delay and denial comes at a cost and this cost is being paid by Australians. Tragically today this cost will be borne by Australian households. This is bad news but the better news is Australia now has a government with a plan to deal with climate change and energy in a way which produces cheaper renewable energy available to Australian households.


Nine years of denial and delay has a real price and that price is being paid by Australian households. The Liberal legacy is higher power prices for Australians right across the areas covered by today's announcement. Now, obviously there are geopolitical events at play here. We've always recognised that international uncertainty will have an impact on the Australian economy in many ways, including in energy prices. But the fact of the matter is, nine years of policy chaos means we don't have enough renewable energy in the system. Nine years of policy chaos means we don't have enough transmission in the system. Nine years of policy chaos means that the Australian energy system is not ready for the changes that are being brought about by these international circumstances.


Renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy. The good news is that Australia now has a Government which will bring on more renewable energy through our investment in the grid. The good news is that the Australian Government will now have a policy to see power prices fall through investments in renewable energy, the cheapest form of energy, that's the better news for the Australian people. The bad news is that nine years of denial and delay has a real cost. And that cost is being paid by the Australian people today.


Angus Taylor knew these power prices were going up. Angus Taylor knew that this report was coming out. Angus Taylor and Scott Morrison knew that the result of their policies was Australians paying more in their power prices. They got through an entire election campaign without telling the truth. They sat on this report, they approved its delay until after the election. This is very much the legacy of Angus Taylor, they put power prices up and they've been dishonest about it. Well, there's now a new government, there is now a new government, which will be honest with the Australian people. There's now a new government with a proper plan to see downward pressure on power prices. There's now a new government dealing with nine years of denial and delay, happy to take your questions.


JOURNALIST: There are calls for the government to intervene to reduce soaring power process for consumers like homes and small businesses, besides the fuel excise cut already brought in by the former government, will you bring any additional measures? How are you going to help consumers?


BOWEN: Well, what we'll do is implement the policies will talk to the election, which will see power prices come down as a result of our investments in the grid and the increase in renewable energy. I also note and welcome very much the Palascuk Government's announcement a few minutes ago, of $175 rebate for power customers.


JOURNALIST: Minister to be, can I ask, would you given there was that delay, it should have been out May 1st, right in the middle of the election campaign. It does look like it's been an intervention. Will you be making inquiries as to how that was delayed or whether the regulator itself may need to be looked at?


BOWEN: Well, my criticism isn’t of the regulator, this delay was approved by the Minister. Now, the regulator may well have had their reasons. But the fact of the matter is the Minister made a political decision to delay the release of this data. The Minister signed it off, the former Minister Angus Taylor. He's therefore responsible for this delay.


JOURNALIST: Given Queensland has offered a rebate, New South Wales is the other big increase today. Is this an opportunity for the Perrotet Government maybe to step in?


BOWEN: Well of course there’s an opportunity for them but how they respond as a matter for them. I welcome the Palascuk Government's intervention.


JOURNALIST: In the UK, there has been an effort to claw back windfall profits that have arisen from the surge in power prices. So is there any possibility or is it worth looking at whether the similar provisions should be applied in Australia?


BOWEN: I think to be fair, Peter, it's a different set of market forces at play in Australia. There are power companies under real pressure. So we're seeing the opposite problem in Australia, so I don't think you can take that policy prescription and apply it to Australia necessarily.


JOURNALIST: It seems like there are another couple of retailers that might need to resort to that retail last resort provision. Is this a difficult time you'd say for retailers where they've got to have an increase on one hand, but their business models may have existed on low wholesale



BOWEN: Well, of course, it's difficult, but I do note Peter, that the markets are now open, I'm not going to comment on any particular company or any particular impacts. It's pretty important that Government Ministers are careful of market sensitivities when the markets are open as the markets opened 10 minutes ago.


JOURNALIST: Minister how do you expect to see soaring prices for consumers to flow through into already problematic inflation?


BOWEN: Well, what we expect to see is that more renewable energy coming on 82% of the energy grid being renewable by 2030. Renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy that's how it will flow through.


JOURNALIST: Just last one from me, do you expect, you know this looks something like a booby trap sort of left behind, are you expecting other kinds of, you know, unfortunate surprises once you get through the (inaudible)?


BOWEN: Look, you know, I've seen Jim Chalmers comment on the state of the budget that the new government is inheriting, we’re inheriting this mess today, which the government knew about, the government sat on, Angus Taylor and Scott Morrison were fully aware and they decided not to tell the truth to the Australian people, so I’d be singularly unsurprised if there was more but let's just see what plays out in the coming weeks. Okay, thanks guys thanks for coming guys.