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Speech: Energy Policy

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:53): I rise today to speak about the Prime Minister's recently delivered energy address, something that, as The Saturday Paper noted, in almost 5,000 words made 49 references to gas, six references to coal but not a single mention of the terms 'climate change', 'global warming' or 'greenhouse effect'. There was one reference to the global environment, but that was related to the strategic and economic environment.

Our Prime Minister did make 14 mentions of renewable energy but only in the context of perceived problems associated with integrating renewables into the electricity grid, as he saw it. This is, of course, the Prime Minister who, prior to his elevation, was the man who took a lump of coal into our federal parliament, stating that we should not be scared of it. Well, I, for one, am very scared of what this Prime Minister has in store for us.

The Prime Minister has declared that gas will play a significant role in Australia's recovery after the economic shock of our pandemic. Indeed, he has flagged that should no private industry step up, potential government leadership and involvement to create a gas plant will be something that the Prime Minister will then bring in to the federal parliament. He has announced in his so-called gas-led economic recovery plan that, instead of investing in our communities and instead of investing in renewables, he is planning to hand out millions in taxpayer dollars to a dirty gas industry.

That is our Prime Minister's energy road map. It is a road map akin to the final scene of Thelma & Louise. It is a road map that will drive us straight off a climate cliff. It is a road map that locks climate-cooking gas into our energy grid for more decades and delays our transition to renewable energy. It is a road map that is vested in supporting continued fossil fuels. It is risky and reckless and it will have that same terrible ending that the Thelma & Louise movie certainly did.

I have to say that the Prime Minister found a strange bedfellow in the Leader of the Opposition. The leader of the Labor opposition, Anthony Albanese, was cautious in his criticism of the Prime Minister's plan and stated, 'No-one is opposed to new gas if the investment is made there.' Not only, of course, did the Greens take issue with that, but I think the Leader of the Opposition found that many in his own party took issue with that.

I note that while the Greens remain steadfastly opposed to investment in new gas and a so-called gas-led road detour, which will take us off the path to a renewables recovery, we are not alone. Indeed, renewables are popular across gender, age and voting demographics. It is no surprise to learn that the Greens voters, at 78 per cent, are supportive of that renewables road map rather than a gas-led detour, but Labor comes in at the same amount—also 78 per cent—and support amongst Coalition voters actually already stands at 60 per cent. As they understand the dirty lie they have been told of the fairy tale of this fossil fuel somehow being an appropriate detour on our road to recovery, that number will only rise.

Prime Minister Morrison is not doing this because it is popular. He is not doing it because it is supported by the science. He is not doing it because the economics stand up. Indeed, for a prime minister of a Coalition government to say that the government will create this gas-led recovery if the private sector does not step up beggars belief of what the Coalition stands for at all if they are going to intervene in terms of where the private sector is already putting their money—that is, with renewables. The punters smell a rat. This gas policy stinks and, indeed, nobody is buying what this Prime Minister has to sell.

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