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Lower power costs, more jobs – Energy Announcement

Senator BURSTON (New South Wales) (16:31): I rise to speak in support of the matter of public importance raised by Senator Bernardi. I speak as Senate leader of the United Australia Party, so I suggest that Senator Leyonhjelm listen very carefully. I know he’s watching. The earth below our feet is teeming with energy-rich natural resources. Australia’s mineral wealth is outstanding. We have tonne upon tonne of clean coal and we have the largest deposits of uranium in the world. There is another area in which we are top of the tree on a global scale, and that is not good. This, of course, is the area of energy costs. When it comes to energy costs, we are positively a poppy so tall it would rival a sunflower for attention. Energy prices in Australia are scandalous. They are higher than in New York or London. Australians are paying a higher percentage of their stagnant wages on energy than people in any other developed country. This might be pardonable if Australia were a remote island in the Pacific with little ability to support itself, but we are an island continent exporting hundreds of millions of tonnes of coal around the world to assist others in maintaining their energy supply at a reasonable cost.

I live in the Hunter Valley, home of the largest coal-exporting port in the world. Australia also exports uranium. We have a third of the world’s supply of uranium and we were the third-biggest exporter of it in 2017. Again, it’s more of the family silver that we’re flogging off at the cost of our own people. A rudimentary understanding of economics tells you that the way to drive down prices is to increase supply. If we are to make Australia truly great, as the United Australia Party pledges, we need a root-and-branch rethink when it comes to electricity production. At the moment, though we all wish that renewables were the answer, the fact is that they cost Australians money. They don’t reduce bills. It is time that we built a new generation of base load, job-creating, coal-fired power stations. Chairman of Waratah Coal, Mr Clive Palmer, today announced that Waratah Coal will build a new coal-fired power station in the Galilee Basin in Queensland, the document stating that fact being lodged with the Queensland state government. I support Senator Bernardi’s matter of public importance.