Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Energy policy


Energy policy

Ms STALEY (Ripon) (14:34): My question is to the minister for energy. With Weston Energy leaving the Victorian gas market due to financing being withdrawn over uncertainty in the Victorian gas market and regional manufacturers now being hit with gas contracts rising from $12 a gigajoule to $42.50 per gigajoule, will the minister release her gas substitution road map, or will she allow regional businesses dependent on gas to go to the wall, costing hundreds of rural jobs?

Ms D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park—Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes) (14:34): I thank the member for her question. Certainly what we have seen occurring across the gas and electricity systems now for a number of weeks is an absolute sign of the failure for nine years of federal leadership at the national level—absolute failure at the national level.

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Benambra!

Ms D’AMBROSIO: They may not like to hear that, but that is the sheer reality. We have always been clear with our plans here in Victoria in terms of the new energy supply coming into our system and the move towards electrification. All of these put Victoria in the best possible position to have insulated ourselves against the worst aspects of what has been happening in the last two weeks right across the rest of the country. The reality is this: we always stand ready to help households. We always stand ready to help businesses no matter where they are right across our state, and we are absolutely delivering on that through lower bills for them of course and their customers.

What is really important here is that those opposite should really turn their question to themselves, because the fact is failed leadership at a federal level has absolutely left us in this terrible situation. Having said that, we have been really clear for a number of years now that too much of our gas supply is leaving the country for the benefit of others globally at our expense, both in terms of supply and in terms of pricing. We have advocated under their friends, governments in the past who totally ignored the calls for action and intervention in the market, to put the power back in the hands of businesses across the state and households across the state.

We have had our conversations with the federal government. We look forward to working with them, and we encourage them to look at fixing this broken system, which has left Victorian businesses, those that are needing to use more gas, exposed to the high prices that are being charged because of global exports of gas right across the rest of the globe. We look forward to this commonwealth government making the right decisions and doing that very soon. In the meantime we have got the best insulated system in terms of electricity and gas prices of any of the other states, and that does not happen by accident. That happens when you have got a plan for delivering clean energy and more supply to the market, you believe in science and you help businesses and households deliver savings each and every day in their pockets. Let there be no doubt that when they were in government they delivered a 35 per cent increase in electricity prices for everyone.

Members interjecting.

The SPEAKER: Order! When the house comes to order. The member for South Barwon! The member for South Barwon has only just returned to the chamber.

Ms STALEY (Ripon) (14:38): A $12 per gigajoule rise to $42.50 per gigajoule is, as one business owner has said to me, a business-threatening, unsustainable increase. What options does the minister have for small businesses in western Victoria to access gas at sustainable prices, or is she comfortable if places that rely on gas like brick manufacturers in Stawell simply close their doors?

Ms D’AMBROSIO (Mill Park—Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes) (14:38): I thank the member for the supplementary question. I will inform the member that we are working every single day with the businesses that are in this situation. The fact is, what is needing to happen is that we need leadership at a federal level to actually fix the situation. We are absolutely helping businesses choose energy efficient products to actually reduce their power bills but also their gas bills, and we are working with these brick manufacturers. You might not know this, Louise, but we are actually working with your members and your businesses—

The SPEAKER: Order! Minister, correct titles.

Ms D’AMBROSIO: to help them work their way through this. The answer is this: you can either believe those opposite, who claim they care about rising power and gas bills but in fact delivered a 35 per cent increase in electricity prices when they were in government, or you can believe this side of the house that is actually delivering the real savings to businesses right across the state.