Energy supply and increased energy prices
08 March 2017
Ms Ryan (Euroa) — (12 391) The adjournment matter I raise this evening is for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and the action I seek is for the minister to act urgently to secure an affordable baseload power supply. Businesses — both small and large employers from across my electorate — are contacting me with their concerns about drastic increases in energy prices. And make absolutely no mistake: these increases are the direct result of the closure of Hazelwood power station. The writing was on the wall when Labor came to government. We now have the energy minister on the record numerous times saying that we should close Hazelwood. Then of course in last year's budget we saw Labor triple taxes on brown coal generators in the Latrobe Valley to the tune of $240 million. The government's failure to fight for investment in Hazelwood is an absolute disgrace, and the impacts of it are being felt not just in the Latrobe Valley where hundreds and hundreds of people are about to lose their jobs. That fallout is being felt right across the state by individuals, small businesses and larger manufacturers.
This is going to have a catastrophic impact on employment across Victoria and in my own electorate of Euroa. As one example, I met recently with D&R Henderson, which is one of the largest employers in Benalla. They are one of the four biggest employers and employ 180 staff in Benalla, which makes up about 14 per cent of employment in the town. They spend more than $20 million each year with suppliers across Victoria. They have seen an increase of $1 million in their electricity contracts this year, which has been directly attributed to the closure of Hazelwood, and they have been told they can expect an increase of a further $760 000 to $1.1 million at the end of this 12-month contract. They now require support from this government to reduce their energy use, but sadly they are not unique.
I also have Vic Feeds, a family-owned stockfeed mill in Colbinabbin. They employ eight people in a tiny town, as well as contractors, and the director of their business, Alan Meyer, says they cannot pass those increases on to dairy farmers who are struggling to survive the downturn within their own industry. Alan is now actually considering bringing in diesel generators to offset his electricity costs because he believes it will be more affordable. I would like the minister to explain how on earth that is a better environmental outcome than having an affordable supply of baseload energy. The government needs to get its head out of the sand.