23 October 2019
DAVID KOCH: The Coalition is pressing ahead with its so-called Big Stick energy policy. Under the proposed laws retailers failing to pass on wholesale price cuts and generators that price gouge by holding back supply will face fines of up to $10 million. They also face the threat of having their companies broken up. Labor has signalled support for the plan despite opposing it before the election, but doesn’t believe energy prices will fall. There will be more debate today in the House of Representatives. Energy Minister Angus Taylor joins us live from Canberra. Minister good to see you. Look, the plan has copped a lot of criticism, there have been plenty of amendments. Now - bottom line - how will it cut power prices for us and by how much?
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well Kochie, what it will do is take out the bad behaviour that we have seen in the market, whether it is price gouging or failure to pass on savings to customers. We've had an industry here that's been focused on its own profits. We've seen an increase in profits of the big three of $1 billion dollars in recent years and it hasn't been focused on the interest of customers. And we know, the competition regulator has told us that part of what's been driving that has been unacceptable and unsustainable behaviour. Behaviour that involves price gouging and behaviour which the competition regulator says has to be stopped.
DAVID KOCH: Yeah.
ANGUS TAYLOR: So that is why we're moving forward with this. Look this is a big win for all Australians Kochie, because it's all about getting customers back in charge of an industry that everyone has to buy from.
DAVID KOCH: And as you say the independent umpire, the ACCC, they've come to this conclusion and they're going to oversee the industry now. 158 per cent increase in whole sale energy prices since 2015 does seem a bit hard to justify. But the industry is saying ‘hey you cracked down on us and we won't build anymore, we won't invest in power plants or solar power or renewable energy’. Do you believe that?
ANGUS TAYLOR: No not at all, Kochie. Look we've seen record levels of investment in this industry in recent years but it has all been from the smaller players. Nearly every bit of it has been. Of the 103 recent projects, 102 have been completed from start to finish by the smaller players. So that's where we are seeing the competitive activity, that's what we want to see more of. We want to see more of that competition, lower prices and putting customers back in charge, Kochie, because customers haven't been in charge in this industry.
DAVID KOCH: Yeah look I agree with that, but the companies say your energy policy - not yours personally - but this Government's energy policy over the years has been a shamozzle. No one has been able to understand it.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Well look we are keeping it very simple and that's the whole point it's about affordable, reliable power. Delivering customers what they want. I mean it's a pretty simple thing electricity - you want to get a bill that's not a price shock, you want to know when you flick the switch the lights go on. And we're keeping it very simple because it is simple. That's the goal and everything we're doing, a whole range of initiatives to ensure we deliver that and most importantly that the industry delivers that to all Australians.
DAVID KOCH: Alright Minister, hopefully we will see those bills go down. Thanks for joining us.
ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks Kochie.