(23 October 2013, Question Without Notice, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
My question is directed to the Minister for Resources and Energy. Given that the New South Wales Government's goal is to generate 20 per cent of the State's energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, will the Minister mandate the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal's suggested price for energy produced by photovoltaic panels on households not eligible under the Solar Bonus Scheme to incentivise further uptake of household solar energy?
Mr Chris Hartcher: Energy is a big issue. We have now had one question from an Independent member.
The Speaker: Order! The member for Canterbury will come to order.
Mr Chris Hartcher: How many questions have the 21 members opposite asked in 2½ years? Zero. People have heard of coal seam gas.
The Speaker: Order! The member for Hornsby will come to order. The Minister does not require any assistance.
Mr Chris Hartcher: Coal seam gas is a somewhat controversial issue. We have had one question from the member for Balmain. How many questions have members opposite asked? Zero. What are members opposite afraid of?
The Speaker: Order! The member for Maroubra will come to order. The member for Kogarah will come to order.
Mr Chris Hartcher: The member for Maroubra needs to answer one question. Was the $100,000 from the Health Services Union on Craig Thomson's credit card? That is one question members opposite have never answered. That is what we want to know.
The Speaker: Order! The member for Maroubra will come to order. This is not an argument or a debate.
Mr Chris Hartcher: I will answer the question asked by the member for Sydney.
The Speaker: Order! The Minister will return to the leave of the question. Members will come to order. Members who continue to interject and shout will be removed from the Chamber.
Mr Chris Hartcher: The member's question is timely. I congratulate him because today the Australian Energy Market Commission released its report on solar energy. Well done. The member is on the ball; he has read the report and asked an appropriate question. I congratulate him on his interest, unlike the 21 members opposite. As the member is aware, following the closure of Captain Solar's unsustainable $1.8 billion blowout scheme, the New South Wales Government asked the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal to determine a fair price for solar electricity. The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal found that once the significant costs of delivering a reliable and secure electricity supply are taken into account the actual value of electricity fed back into the grid is 6.6¢ to 11.2¢ per kilowatt hour. This compares to the 60¢ that Captain Solar handed out. Who paid for it? The 95 per cent of consumers—
Mr Richard Amery: Point of order: My point of order is under Standing Order 75. I ask the Minister to refer to other members by their correct titles.
The Speaker: Order! I uphold the point of order.
Mr Chris Hartcher: It is good that after 30 years the member for Mount Druitt finally knows a standing order. The New South Wales Government continues to call on retailers to implement the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal report. As confirmed by the report of the Australian Energy Market Commission today, solar bonus customers are being subsidised by other consumers. Nonetheless, more than 80,000 customers have signed up to solar panels since the Solar Bonus Scheme was closed more than two years ago. This is a great result. As the hardworking Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy and Energy Innovation said, this shows that the demand for solar panels is still strong without costly feed-in tariffs. Customers are realising the long-term value of net metering as a way of reducing their power bills and receiving revenue from an unsubsidised feed-in tariff set for their electricity exported to the grid. Setting a higher feed-in tariff as requested by the member for Sydney would involve a subsidy and result in higher electricity prices for all New South Wales households—something that only the Leader of the Opposition would and did advocate.
Mr John Robertson: You voted for it.
Mr Chris Hartcher: And the Leader of the Opposition introduced it. He blew out the scheme from $400 million to $1.8 billion. He would have been a great Treasurer.
The Speaker: Order! The Leader of the Opposition is skating on thin ice. I remind him that he is on three calls to order.
Mr Chris Hartcher: According to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, the increased costs would be as high as an additional $1.8 billion. The New South Wales Government is committed to a 20 per cent target of renewable energy under the Parliamentary Secretary by 2020 but it must be economically sustainable in a way that the community can absorb. For example, a Victorian Government report on green schemes—the member for Balmain will be interested in this—shows that The Greens have advocated a switch to 100 per cent renewable energy, which would cost $1 trillion. That is okay for The Greens. Who cares? This would amount to approximately $500,000 per household in Victoria.