At that meeting last week, it was very, very clear from the delegation from Victoria that they were focused on one thing: their re-election, not the reduction of power bills for the Australian people. That was their focus. Right through this process, the Victorian government have otherwise supported the National Energy Guarantee.
Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (14:09):
My question is to the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator Canavan. On Friday the minister joined the Minister for the Environment and Energy in attempting to persuade state and territory governments to support the Turnbull government's National Energy Guarantee. Has the minister joined the Minister for the Environment and Energy or the Prime Minister in recent meetings to persuade members of the coalition party room to support the government's position? If so, when and with whom were these meetings held?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:10):
No, I have not. But Senator Marshall is correct; I was at the COAG Energy Council last week to discuss the future energy policy of this nation. It is instructive that we have a Victorian government that's running in lock step with GetUp! and Greenpeace on these issues. We have a Labor Party that are not interested in lowering power bills for Australian people. They're not interested in securing the future jobs in our manufacturing sector in Australia. They are not interested in the people of this country who are at their kitchen tables struggling to pay their bills right now. They're not interested in the pensioners that have to put extra doonas on to keep themselves warm in winter. They are not interested in these things. They are focused on an election where they need the support of GetUp! to win marginal seats in Melbourne. That's what they are focused on.
At that meeting last week, it was very, very clear from the delegation from Victoria that they were focused on one thing: their re-election, not the reduction of power bills for the Australian people. That was their focus. Right through this process, the Victorian government have otherwise supported the National Energy Guarantee. They've supported good policy to try and find a stable and consistent policy framework for our nation in this space. And then, guess what? Just as they receive a few emails from GetUp! and some people that they're scared of, they jump to that tune. We know who sings the song for the Labor Party in Victoria, and it ain't the average families in this country. It is the activists in Melbourne who are leading the Victorian government down a garden path that is not about lowering prices but meeting emissions reduction targets and nothing else.
Senator Marshall, a supplementary question.
Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (14:12):
In an article in this morning's Australian entitled 'NEG rebels try to force walkouts', it was revealed that the Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nationals MP Mr Keith Pitt:
…was considering stepping down from his frontbench position so he could oppose the NEG.
Has the minister attempted to persuade Assistant Minister Pitt to support the government's position?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:12):
I have tried to persuade all I've spoken to about the common sense of adopting the National Energy Guarantee. It is the right approach to help bring down power bills for the Australian people. If you'd like to have a briefing on why the National Energy Guarantee is the right approach, Senator Marshall, I'd love to have that discussion with you. We still to this day don't know what the Labor Party's position is on the National Energy Guarantee. When I hear Mr Butler, the energy spokesperson for the Labor Party, get up and speak, all I hear him talk about is emissions reductions. That's all he talks about. He doesn't talk about lowering power bills for the Australian people.
Order! Senator Cameron, on a point of order.
This is on relevance. This was a very specific question: has the minister attempted to persuade Assistant Minister Pitt to support the government's position? The minister's attention should be drawn to the specific question.
You've very kindly done so, Senator Cameron. I note the minister has 14 seconds remaining to answer.
As I said, I try to convince everybody of common sense and good policy in this nation, and this policy is common sense. It does provide the potential to lower power bills, and that's what this government is focused on.
Senator Marshall, a final supplementary question.
Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (14:13):
Last night Senator Molan said Minister Frydenberg was worthy of admiration for his ability to 'put lipstick on a pig'. On whether the NEG will deliver lower prices, former Prime Minister Abbott said, 'Pigs might fly.' Can the minister confirm that, according to government MPs, the prospect of the government's NEG delivering lower prices is akin to a flying pig wearing lipstick?
Senator CANAVAN (Queensland—Minister for Resources and Northern Australia) (14:14):
I haven't seen those quotes, and I can't comment on quotes from my colleagues or others that I haven't seen in context. But it is instructive. I don't think the power bills of the Australian people at the moment are a laughing matter. I don't think when people receive that little envelope with their bill inside of it that they see that as a laughing matter. They expect us to try to solve these problems. That is what we are focused on doing. We are focused on finding a plan.
We still don't know the Labor Party's plan. All we know from the Labor Party is that they are focused on one thing, and that is doing whatever the Greens tell them to do. That is what they are doing in this space. We, however, will focus on good policy that can bring down power prices for Australians and secure their jobs.