TUESDAY, 1 JANUARY 2019
BUTLER: Thanks for coming out on New Year's Day, the Morrison Government has started the New Year with a great big lie - pretending to Australian households that they're actually going to see cuts in their power bills.
As the Grattan Institute said this morning the Morrison Government, to use their words, actually hasn't done anything. All we're seeing today is about five per cent of Australian customers finally come off outrageously high offers they should never have been on in the first place. The other 95 per cent of Australian households will see absolutely no price relief from this government, instead 2019 holds out the prospect of power bills continuing to go up and up and up under a government that has no plan to bring Australia's energy crisis to an end.
JOURNALIST: Can Labor assure that with this high an emissions reduction targets that you can still lower prices?
BUTLER: Well what we want to do is go ahead with the former Malcolm Turnbull plan of a National Energy Guarantee, a plan supported by every business group in the country and every State Government including the New South Wales Liberal Government.
Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg and Scott Morrison spent all of 2018 almost, assuring households that the National Energy Guarantee would see power bills come down by $550 but the same modelling also said that a failure to implement a National Energy Guarantee would see power bills go up by about $300 and we're already seeing that in the electricity market. So, we want to implement the National Energy Guarantee we continue to hold out the invitation to Scott Morrison for the two major parties to come to the table and put this plan in place for the benefit of Australian Households and businesses.
JOURNALIST: You're pretty confident that that would definitely lower prices?
BUTLER: Well that was Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg's argument all through 2018, a $550 power cut because there would finally be an energy policy in place to bring Australia's energy crisis to an end.
JOURNALIST: The government put a lot of pressure on power companies last year, do you think they deserve some credit for this standing discounts?
BUTLER: Well Australian households should never have been on these offers, it only applies to about five per cent of Australian households, that's all we're talking about in the newspaper reports this morning. But they should never have been on that offer in the first place and as soon as the consumer watchdog, the ACCC pointed that out several months ago it was Labor who first - Bill Shorten and me - first announced that we would support the ACCC's recommendation for a default offer to be put in place instead of those standing offers.
So really all that the government is crowing about this morning is the electricity companies finally responding first of all, to the ACCC report and then to a series of calls from the Australian parliament that came first from the Labor Party.
JOURNALIST: Do you think this plan makes it easier for shoppers, people, customers to shop around for energy prices?
BUTLER: Well we want to see a default offer put in place so that Australian households are able to compare apples with apples and pears and pears to make sure that they're confident they're getting the best possible offer in the market. The announcement this morning - or the press release from the Energy Minister this morning is really just about five per cent of Australian households finally being taken off offers they should never have been on in the first place.
JOURNALIST: Should retailers do more to bring down power prices?
BUTLER: Well I think what Australia needs is an energy policy from the Australian parliament that gives investors the confidence to start making investments needed to replace the ageing, increasingly unreliable coal generators that will retire over coming years and that is what all the business groups, particularly the big energy users, those who are getting very big power bill increases in their businesses. That's what they're calling for from the Australian parliament, that's not what they're getting from the government that on last count has had 11 different energy policies since the 2016 election.
JOURNALIST: What about power companies they set their prices.
BUTLER: Well power companies should be doing everything they possibly can to make sure Australian households and Australian businesses are getting the best deal possible. But the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle according to every business group, every state government and every commentator is the need for an enduring, stable energy policy coming out of the Australian parliament. And instead of good policy we continue to see, even over the Christmas New Year period a Liberal Party at war with itself instead of focused on the needs of the Australian community that they get paid to serve.
JOURNALIST: When do you reckon Labor would like the election to be held in an ideal world?
BUTLER: Well the election should be held when it's due, it's due in about May. We're ready to fight the election at any time this year, we've got policies that we've been working on very hard now for several years. I don't think there would ever have been an Opposition that has put out as detailed a platform of policies to the Australian people as the Shorten led Labor Opposition.
So we're ready to fight an election today if the Prime Minister wants to call it but really one would assume, businesses will assume and the households will assume that it will be held in the ordinary course of events in May.
JOURNALIST: Are you expecting Bill Shorten to lead the party up until the election?
BUTLER: Oh, absolutely. I mean the Labor Party is united and is stable and we're focused on policies that matter to the Australian community. Even over the Christmas and New Year period the Australian people have had to put up with the antics of the government, a party the Liberal Party at war with itself instead of being focused on the needs of the Australian community.
Peter Dutton's outbursts has started just another bout of civil warfare within the Liberal Party, even while Australians are trying to celebrate Christmas and New Years.
JOURNALIST: The GST on hygiene products will be removed today how welcome a move is this?
BUTLER: Well it's very welcome, it will be welcomed by the Australian community it's welcomed by the Labor Party because it was of course, the Labor Party that first made this call for the GST to be removed from these products. A fully costed call that that Labor Party did unlike the Liberal Party government which has finally caught up with the Labor Party and the calls that have been in place for a very long time from the Australian community.
JOURNALIST: And just on one other matter, banks today are imposing limits on how much they allow consumers to rack up credit cards following pressure from ASIC. How big of an impact would this have for people struggling with debt?
BUTLER: Well look I haven't seen those stories so I'm not going to comment on those without seeing the detail. Thanks everyone.