Mr RAMSEY (Grey–Government Whip) (11:18): Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker. I’m very pleased that the member for Bruce has finally discovered that there is a connection between viable manufacturing industries and low energy prices, low energy costs, low input costs, and that we run the risk of exporting all our manufacturing industries and many others overseas-the irrigation industry, for instance. He seems also to have discovered that the best way to reduce prices is to increase supply. But the disconnect I see here is that the member for Bruce is a Victorian, a member of the Victorian Labor Party, and he has good friends, I presume, in the state Labor government.
The state Labor government has banned not just fracking but also exploration and drilling for gas throughout the entire state of Victoria. Goodness me. He wants extra supply yet his friends in the state parliament have shut down any new gas in Victoria. It is a preposterous argument. I think it’s at point (c) where he actually mentions electricity, and he devoted a fair bit of his time to it, I might add. He said, ‘Prices have risen by up to 200 per cent.’ He again neglects to mention his friends in the state government, who have tripled the excise on coal, and now he complains about electricity prices impacting on manufacturing businesses. I know he’s an intelligent man-I spent some time with him through the winter break, on a delegation-and I think he knows far better. I think he actually does know far better than this. It’s just this sort of posturing that we get when we come to Canberra. I said this morning, at a doorstop interview, that we need people to leave parochialism at the door, to leave politics at the door and to actually make decisions for this nation’s future. If he is absolutely serious about trying to reduce electricity prices in Australia, he will of course be backing the coalition as we put forward the NEG. So thank you very much, Member for Bruce.
Mr Hill interjecting–
Mr RAMSEY: He throws away a glib comment, but this is a serious issue that he is playing politics with, and the Victorian state government are at the centre of those politics, while they make decisions that impact greatly on their manufacturing industries and then try to pass the blame to someone else, when in fact it is their primary decision that is impacting in the greatest way at the coalface, let me say.
We can mention the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism and the fact that the government hasn’t actually enacted that mechanism. That is quite simply because the Prime Minister sat down with the gas suppliers, and gas was increased. It has been increased greatly. That has brought the spot price of gas from around $13 or $14 down to below $9. That’s an enormous decrease. Spot prices, I know, are not long-term contract prices, but they are an indicator of where the market is. Australia is not going to go back to the days of gas prices of $3 or $4, because on mainland Australia our conventional gas supplies are dwindling. But we have enormous potential in tight gas supplies. But, as long as we have states-even including my own-that are locking up significant areas and banning the exploration for and extraction of tight gas, we will have prices that are above the international standard, and we absolutely should not allow that. But tight gas does not come out of the ground at $3 or $4. It is a $7 or $8 product. We have to get used to that. That has to be factored into the new energy mix.
This is taking into consideration the facts and leaving the politics at the door. They are the facts of the situation. Tight gas will cost $7 or $8. You’re not going to run it down cheaper than that. People will not drill for it. And they certainly will not drill in those areas of Australia where they are banned from drilling and banned from fracking. We are allowing political loonies to deny the science. I get told on many occasions to listen to the science, but the same people who tell me to listen to the science on one subject do not want to listen to the science on another subject-in this particular case, the science on the fracking of gas. The science is sound. The technique is sound. It’s used all over the world. It’s been used in the Cooper Basin, in my state, for 40 years. We should get on with the job.