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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 2 August 2018) . . Page.. 2603 ..

NEG will not be used as a mechanism to artificially support expensive and environmentally damaging coal-fired power stations.

Like a gremlin exposed to water, when the NEG enters the coalition party room after the COAG Energy Council, and also the federal parliament, it could very well morph from something that is supposed to be technology neutral, and that is supposed to at least attempt to increase reliability and reduce emissions, into a gross and perverted subsidy for more coal-fired power.

Clearly this is part of the coalition’s energy agenda. Last month the coalition voted in favour of a Senate motion calling for the building of new coal-fired power stations. Minister Frydenberg recently enjoyed a coal tour to Queensland, and in the past 24 hours we have seen coalition backbencher George Christensen in Japan touting for new coal-fired power stations in Australia from Japanese coal-fired generators.

It is certainly not worth passing a national energy guarantee, such as it is, if it is accompanied by these side deals that artificially extend the life of coal-fired power stations in Australia. This would be a terrible outcome, and one that would sell future generations in this country short when it comes to reliability of energy supply and dealing with the environmental challenges that are in front of us.

One of the other ironies is that this policy is designed to deliver certainty. We can see that the low level of ambition that is built into it means that there will not be certainty, because this debate will continue to be prosecuted, and as soon as there is a change of federal government in Australia, a new target will be put in place.

There are great challenges here. The ACT have continued to engage in this process mindful of wanting to be constructive, to find a result, but also knowing that the national interest is broader than what is being spun at us. We need to get an outcome that does not just think about the next couple of years, about this current political cycle, or the vagaries of it, but delivers secure energy policy over coming decades and ensures that Australia’s energy transition is a smooth, cost-effective and reliable one that ensures fair energy prices for Australian households and businesses.

I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (11.05): It has been clear for some time that a national consensus on energy has been desperately needed, and I am pleased to see that the federal government is taking some action on this important issue.

Canberrans have seen power prices continue to rise over the past decade, of course influenced by policies of the ACT government, as well as successive commonwealth governments, and market factors. This sort of speculative regime, speculative in pricing but also speculative in policy, has gone on for too long. It has left many families out of pocket, many unable to use their heaters in winter or air-conditioners in summer and of course, in some parts of Australia, without power altogether. A national consensus must include two key factors: reliability and affordability.

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