Page 116

THe Last Sentry at the Gate 1

PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES energy companies. Why would we reward the same companies that have been ripping off Aussies for decades? The Prime Minister is not just breaking his promise to retain the Renewable Energy Target he is breaking his promise to try to maintain cheaper electricity prices in Australia. He is thinking in the short term, despite the fact that in the long term the RET pushes down our electricity bills because we are generating a big chunk of our power with free fuel. By Palmer United ensuring the savings from the abolition of the carbon tax were passed on, we reduced electricity prices. Origin Energy in Queensland has announced an eight per cent reduction in electricity prices. That is why the Palmer United Party will not be supporting any RET change or reduction in the Senate. We will be voting for lower prices and greater competition for Australian consumers. When the review of the RET was announced, the Prime Minister said that the RET was causing ‘pretty significant price pressure in the system.’ Will the Prime Minister now admit that he was mistaken and agree with his review of the RET that said impacts on retail electricity prices appear to be small? If the government is truly concerned about the cost-of-living pressure on Australian families, as it has repeatedly claimed, then it would be announcing today that it has no intention of making any changes to the RET. Putting solar panels on your roof is a great way to protect your family from higher electricity prices. Millions of households have done it and many more millions want to. The changes to the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme proposed by the Warburton RET review threaten ordinary Australians from being able to significantly reduce their electricity bills. The review proposed changing the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, which helps working Australians put solar PVs and solar hot water on their roofs. If this government is really concerned about cost-of-living pressures on ordinary Australians, it should announce that it is rejecting these changes to the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. Before the election, the Prime Minister promised to cut the cost of living for everyday Australians. Installing solar is one guaranteed way people have to slash their power bills. On average, a household will slash its power bill by 65 per cent when it installs solar. There are two million households that prove this point, and there are millions more that want to get solar. People on low incomes, self-funded retirees, pensioners and community groups have all invested their own money to slash their power bills. Moving to the issue of industry uncertainty, when the government was elected it claimed that Australia was open for business. This stands in stark contrast to the instability that the government has created in the renewable energy sector. The uncertainty that the RET review has created is causing billions of dollars of investment to be put at risk. The government needs to bring this uncertainty to a swift end by standing by its election promise that there will be no changes to the RET. The RET was responsible for creating 24,000 new jobs and if left unchanged will create an additional 18,400 jobs by 2020. Ninety per cent of additional renewable energy generation in the period since its inception is attributable to the RET. It doubled Australia’s renewable energy capacity in the period between 2001 and 2012. If the Prime Minister wants a prosperous and wealthy Australian economy, then we should be using every resource that we can to support this country. If we have a huge amount of untapped resources above our heads, such as sunlight and wind, we should capture it and use it to power our economy. In relation to other industry reaction, the sugar industry used to burn sugar cane waste as fast as they could to get rid of it. With $600 million of investment under the RET, they now burn it a lot more efficiently and export renewable electricity to the grid. The RET review recommendations are pretty disastrous for them. They have a further $1 billion or more of potential projects at existing sugar mills in Queensland—projects that bring jobs into regional Australia, help grow the industry and generate renewable electricity in the regions close to population centres where the energy is needed. Putting 8,500 gigawatt hours of renewable energy into the Queensland electricity market will bring more competition and drive down electricity prices for Queenslanders, but it will not happen without the RET. 94 The Last Sentry at the Gate: Clive Palmer & the 44th Parliament of Australia


THe Last Sentry at the Gate 1
To see the actual publication please follow the link above