Page 4380 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 25 October 2017
policy got a mention. Rather than focusing on the mish-mash of what this motion does include, I will direct my remarks to what it does not include.
Not once does this motion refer to affordability or reliability of energy for ACT residents, bar a passing generic reference to the economic costs of climate change. This motion takes no fewer than seven paragraphs out of 24 paragraphs of “notes” to talk about the ACT government’s investment in programs to support the take-up of battery storage and mentions the need and desire of the ACT government to assist households to invest in battery storage. This motion goes on to suggest that the ACT has one of the most ambitious battery incentive programs in the country. This I do not dispute. But not once does the cost to consumers play any part in the narrative and not once does reliability of supply play any part in the narrative.
One could be cynical and suggest that a strong reason for the ACT government to be anxious about increasing the uptake of battery storage is that they know that there is a very real prospect of Canberra households losing power this summer. We all know that we dodged a bullet in February this year and, if all predictions come true, we will have insufficient power this summer, irrespective of how much the ACT government is paying wind and solar power suppliers.
Indeed, during estimates, directorate staff suggested that there was a risk of load shedding—in other words, blackouts—and subsequently the Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability said that he had asked directorate staff to prepare a communications plan to warn ACT residents before summer about this risk. The minister also announced only last month that the ACT would invest a further $4 million into a home battery subsidy scheme, and so far more than 200 batteries have been installed. He is hoping that within the next three years up to 5,000 Canberra homes and businesses will have around 36 megawatts of energy storage. This is all part of the $25 million.
This motion fails to mention the cost side of batteries, and you cannot in all good conscience talk about benefits without also talking about the cost. Before those on the opposite side of the chamber start to suggest that we are anti renewable energy or opposed to battery programs, let me reiterate that the Canberra Liberals supported the government’s 100 per cent renewable energy target in the last term and we confirmed our commitment earlier this year.
This commitment was an acknowledgement that the ACT government took advantage of the burgeoning but uncertain renewable energy sector and, as I have previously done—and I do so again—I commend the ACT government on moving so quickly to secure a good deal for ACT residents. However, in reaffirming our commitment to this target this year, we did make it clear at the outset that affordability and reliability are essential factors that need to be considered in any future energy policy discussion. This motion fails to make any reference to that.
The benefit to ACT residents and the cost-of-living pressures they face on a daily basis are of vital concern to the Canberra Liberals. We know that under this government Canberrans’ cost-of-living pressures and their financial welfare take a backseat to almost every other priority. Throughout this motion we see example after