Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 14:43 :28 ): My question is to the Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy. Does the minister stand by his comments on 1 December last year that he is comfortable with the level of reliability in our electricity network and that ‘prices will come down gradually over the next 12 to 18 months’?
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS ( West Torrens—Treasurer, Minister for Finance, Minister for State Development, Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy) (14:43:47): Yes, sir. If the shadow minister had been listening to the question the member for Wright asked me earlier, not only do I agree with that statement but so does the new CEO of AEMO, where she said on radio FIVEaa that the work the government is doing will increase reliability. In terms of reducing prices—
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Yes, I know you just work here, sir. I understand. Also, of course, the government is out to procure new competition to the market using its own procurement. That is, the South Australian government is a very large customer, and we use it for our schools and for our hospitals, for our police and our other services.
We are out to the market now trying to incentivise a new generator into the system to try to create more competition. This could be a new solar thermal plant, it could be a new gas-fired generator, but what it will be is new competition. On the day we announced Our Energy Plan the Premier announced that we had short-listed three candidates. So, yes, I do absolutely expect Our Energy Plan to increase reliability and lower prices.
Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 14:45 :16 ): A supplementary, sir: given the minister’s answer, when will prices reduce and by how much?
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS ( West Torrens—Treasurer, Minister for Finance, Minister for State Development, Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy) (14:45:25): Ultimately, my very strong view now is that the market is fundamentally broken and uncompetitive. You are seeing price rises across—
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: That’s right. The National Electricity Market across the entire NEM is showing massive increases. You are seeing it, of course, in New South Wales and you are seeing it in Queensland. I shudder to think what will happen in Victoria in December when they do their calendar-year update of their price increases. It is important to note that our new competitor coming into the market, underwritten by our new procurement to try to bring new generation in, will ultimately lower prices. Again, I say to the opposition: why don’t we have a debate of ideas? Why don’t we have a debate of policy? Why doesn’t the opposition release its energy plan now, today, and let us have a debate?
The Hon. J.J. Snelling: They are more interested in GoPros.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: I know that GoPros are a big issue, but why don’t we have a debate? Why don’t the shadow minister and I have a debate about energy policies? Why don’t we talk about our different plans? Instead, all we have is shouting because, in the absence of policy, he thinks that the loudest person wins.