Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (15:22): I rise to speak about the very unfortunate and avoidable energy crisis that we have here in our state. Everybody in this chamber, and in fact all over the state and all over the nation, knows that unfortunately South Australia has the most expensive and the most unreliable electricity in the nation. The government has put us in this position, saying that they are trying to save the environment, saying that they are pursuing renewables, but the reality is that all they are trying to do is save themselves. For purely political purposes, the state Labor government has run headlong towards renewables, without putting any effort whatsoever into ensuring that they actually can fit into our grid, that supply can be integrated and that customers are not punished.
Of course, we must transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy, but it must be done in a sensible, well-planned, well-managed transition, not in the helter-skelter approach that the current government has taken without any care whatsoever for the consequences of electricity consumers who, from the smallest household all the way through to the largest employer, have been absolutely punished by this government.
Only this week we have seen another disgraceful act by this government, with the government trying to pretend that electricity prices are going down. I ask you, Deputy Speaker, to point out any household, any business, small or large, that can actually show you a bill that proves that their electricity prices are going down. Electricity prices are going up and up. Residential households receiving retail bills had an 18 per cent increase on average across the state on 1 July this year. That was on top of a 10 per cent increase on 1 July last year, yet the government, which created this problem through dreadful policy over many years, is actually trying to pretend that it has not happened.
Both the Premier and the Minister for Energy have gone out there saying that electricity prices in South Australia are decreasing. The reality is that what they have done is selectively quote a moment in time and it is completely contradictory to the real-world experience of South Australian electricity consumers. It is also completely contradictory to the forward market and we have on record the energy minister, the man who has been in charge of electricity policy for over six years now, saying to this parliament that the very best indication of future electricity prices in our state is the ASX forward futures market. Let me tell you, that information again contradicts the government trying to spin and pretend that electricity prices are going down.
For the very next whole quarter, the March quarter (January, February and March), the latest figures show that the Queensland price is $99.50, the New South Wales price is $108.30 and the Victorian price is $145.50. The South Australian price in dollars per megawatt hours is $173.25—completely contradictory to what the government would have the people of South Australia believe and, what is worse, the government knows it.
I have used those figures from the next whole quarter of the ASX futures market, which the energy minister says is the best indication of where prices are going, but do you know what is even more concerning? The government has released its energy plan trying to convince South Australia that if the state Labor government spends $550 million of taxpayers’ money to fix the problems that the government itself created and imposed upon the taxpayers, that if the government spends all that money, everything will be okay, but they have refused to provide any independent modelling that supports that claim.
The Liberal opposition, on the other hand, has provided independent modelling done by ACIL Allen, which clearly shows that, if our energy policy, our very positive broad energy policy, is put into place, it will drive down the wholesale price of electricity. We will deliver cheaper electricity. We will deliver more reliable electricity and our policy is greener as well. Do not believe me, believe the ASX futures contract price that says that over the next few years, all the way up to June 2021, South Australian electricity prices will be 15 per cent higher than the national average under this government’s policy. The government’s policy is factored into that market and it is disgraceful.