Australia election 2022: Scott Morrison slams Labor’s power policy for adding $560 to energy bills

Scott Morrison says Labor’s energy policy would push up average power bills by $560 a year – but the Opposition has branded the claim another ‘scare campaign’. 

If elected Anthony Albanese will spend $20billion of taxpayer cash to set up a government-owned entity called Rewiring the Nation Corporation to upgrade the electricity grid. 

The Labor leader says the plan, which will attract $58billion of private investment, will allow cheaper renewable sources to supply 82 per cent of electricity by 2030, and will then save households $378 a year. 

However, Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the upgrades will actually increase prices by pushing up supply costs known as ‘poles and wires charges’. 

Scott Morrison (right on Monday) says Labor’s energy policy would push up average power bills by $560 a year – but the Opposition has branded the claim another ‘scare campaign’

Poles and wires charges make up about 46 per cent of household bills and will increase as the value of network increases, Mr Taylor said. 

Modelling the government released on Monday claimed these charges would increase by an average of $560 by 2032 in what he called a ‘hammer blow for families’.

‘That’s because the Australian Energy Regulator independently sets the prices that households pay for poles and wires and does this largely based on the value of the network,’ a statement from his office said.

‘So when Labor say they want to increase the value of the network by $78billion, what they are saying is they are happy to slug Australian families with a higher bill.’

Experts have also raised suspicion of Labor’s claims.

Bruce Mountain, the Director of the Victoria Energy Policy Centre, said in December: ‘I’m sceptical of any claim that more transmission equals lower prices’.

And Matt Harris of Frontier Economics said Labor’s modelling ‘appears to overstate retail electricity bill savings by assuming that a 26 per cent fall in wholesale price leads to a 26 per cent fall in retail prices… But wholesale costs are only about one-third of an electricity bill, and so are the savings.’ 

If elected Anthony Albanese will spend $20billion of taxpayer cash to set up a government-owned entity called Rewiring the Nation Corporation to upgrade the electricity grid

If elected Anthony Albanese will spend $20billion of taxpayer cash to set up a government-owned entity called Rewiring the Nation Corporation to upgrade the electricity grid

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the upgrades to the grid will increase prices by pushing up supply costs known as 'poles and wires charges'

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the upgrades to the grid will increase prices by pushing up supply costs known as ‘poles and wires charges’

However, Mr Taylor’s modelling was based on the typical annual bill for 2021-22 and did not account for how more renewable energy is expected to push down prices.

His model only focussed on transmission costs not wholesale costs. 

‘These numbers have been made up by the minister and put into the papers in an effort to mislead people about the vast opportunities of renewable energy,’ said Mr Albanese. 

Labor’s energy spokesman Chris Bowen said it was just an attempt to scare voters into voting for the Coalition. 

‘Today’s so-called ”Government modelling” just shows that the Morrison Government does not believe renewables are the cheapest form of energy, or that the world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity,’ he said.

Announcing his plan in December, Mr Albanese said the policy would create 604,000 jobs, according to Labor-commissioned modelling by respected firm Reputex.

The policies will reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, a slightly less ambitious target than Bill Shorten’s 45 per cent aim which Mr Albanese called a ‘mistake’ last year.

Labor’s policies have been backed by the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the National Farmers’ Federation. 

Labor has a target to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030. Pictured: Mr Albanese with a hydrogen car

Labor has a target to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030. Pictured: Mr Albanese with a hydrogen car

The Coalition’s target is to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels, although latest projections show the nation is on track for a 30-35 per cent reduction. 

Labor’s plan involves rolling out 85 solar banks and 400 community batteries around the nation and investing in 10,000 ‘new energy apprentices’ alongside a $10million New Energy Skills Program. 

A future Labor government would also spend $3billion on renewables manufacturing and deploying low-emissions technologies and remove taxes on electric cars to make them cheaper.  

Mr Albanese said five out of every six new jobs created under the plan will be in regional Australia. Some 64,000 are direct jobs while 540,000 are indirect jobs created as a side-effect of the policies. 

The plan will not negatively impact traditional fossil fuel jobs and will not bring forward power station closures, Mr Albanese said. 

But it will increase the share of renewables in the National Electricity Market to 82 per cent by 2030.    

‘Another scare campaign’: Labor’s response in full 

Today’s desperate attack on Labor’s Powering Australia plan is just the latest in more than a decade of climate scare campaigns from the Liberals.

After a decade in government, and with no plan of its own to cut power prices or create new energy jobs, all the Morrison Government can offer is another lie.

Today’s so-called ‘Government modelling’ just shows that the Morrison Government does not believe renewables are the cheapest form of energy, or that the world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity.

It also shows that the Morrison Government’s last-minute conversion to net zero is a fraud.

Do Dave Sharma, Tim Wilson, Jason Falinski, Trent Zimmerman and Katie Allen endorse this attack on the economics of renewable energy?

And if the Morrison Government is so proud of its so-called ‘modelling’, it should release it publicly for scrutiny, not selectively quote from it and keep it locked away.

Where is the modelling? Who conducted it? What are its assumptions?

Labor’s climate and energy policies, including our plan to rewire Australia’s ageing electricity grid, have been modelled – not by Labor, but by the country’s top energy economists, RepuTex.

This is the same firm that the Government has previously used – including to model the electricity market.

RepuTex finds that Rewiring the Nation will cut power prices by delivering the experts’ blueprint for the grid more cheaply, and by bringing low-cost renewables into the grid more quickly.

That’s why Labor’s policies have been backed by the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the National Farmers’ Federation.

Importantly, Rewiring the Nation will be delivered by independent experts, and only projects that stack up will receive support.

In contrast, while Scott Morrison claims to support the grid blueprint developed by his own experts, he has no plan to deliver it – just a plan to hand-pick pet projects like he picks sports rorts and car parks.

Labor stands by its policies, and by RepuTex’s modelling of them.

After a decade of denial and delay, Australia deserves a better future – one with cheaper power, more jobs, and less emissions. 

 

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