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Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

17 February 2021

Ben Fordham

Subject: Default Market Offer for 2021-22


BEN FORDHAM: We're being promised more reductions in electricity prices - I've got a feeling we've heard this before. But the Federal Government finally reckons they've got it sorted. Under new modelling announced today, electricity prices could fall by up to $136 per year in New South Wales. The Federal Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, is with us. Good morning, Minister.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Morning, Ben. Thanks for having me.

BEN FORDHAM: Have you seen that movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray?

ANGUS TAYLOR: [Laughs] Yeah, look, but the reality is this is a very significant reduction now. We've seen this determination come out from the regulator - this is the default offers, this is the price you pay if you don't pick up the phone and ask for a better one. A reduction of $136 in a typical household bill this year. For small businesses it'll be just over $800. In total, since we introduced this default offer, that'll mean a $577 improvement for households. Now, you can always do better than this, and this is the important message: pick up the phone. We've seen wholesale prices coming down very sharply right across Australia, and if you pick up the phone you can take advantage of that, because there's some really good offers around. But if you don't, this is protection for you to give you some of those price reductions, pass those onto you. Desperately needed, it's a tough time for people paying their bills, particularly small businesses given what we've seen with COVID over the last 12 months. But this is a break we're very, very positive about.

BEN FORDHAM: Wholesale electricity prices skyrocketed by 39 per cent in New South Wales for the last three months of last year. Why does New South Wales have the highest prices in the country?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, they didn't, but we've consistently seen New South Wales starting to go up. Now, we've seen wholesale price reductions fall very sharply everywhere, including New South Wales over the last couple of years. So that's from a much lower base, Ben, and they typically do go up in summer. But overall, we're seeing those wholesale price reductions that have been happening over the long term being passed through. The best way to get that passed through; get on the phone, go to your provider, say you want a better offer or go to another provider. You can go to the Energy Made Easy website, which gives you lots of options, it tells you what's going to be the best plan for you given your usage. And I'd strongly encourage people to take advantage of what we're seeing with these better prices being available, by picking up the phone.

BEN FORDHAM: You've had disagreements in the past with the New South Wales Energy Minister, Matt Kean, who wants coal and gas gone in the next 10 years. What would that do to power prices?

ANGUS TAYLOR: They'd go up. It's very simple. They would go up. And that's why it mustn't happen. Look, the reason we are seeing real gains now and people can pick up the phone and get a better price now, is because we've seen more supply coming in and we've avoided those big exits of coal fired generators. We've seen gas playing an important role. Actually over the summer, gas has played a very important role in containing prices, and we need to see that balance in the system. Look, record levels of household solar in Australia right now, one in four houses. But we need to see balance. You can't have all that households solar, if you also don't have that dispatchable, reliable generation you get from coal and gas.

BEN FORDHAM: It's been a traumatic few days in Canberra, a former staffer who was working for the Defence Minister, Linda Reynolds, has revealed that she was sexually assaulted in Parliament House back in 2019. Linda Reynolds never told the Prime Minister about it. Scott Morrison said he only found out about it this week. How disturbed are you by these reports?

ANGUS TAYLOR: I'm disturbed by the reports, there's no doubt about that. I think we all are, Ben. Obviously, Linda has made it very clear she should have told the Prime Minister earlier, she's apologised for that. The important thing now is to make sure something like this never happens again. I've spoken to my staff, as I know many others have across this place. It was unacceptable. The reporting if correct, of course, is absolutely unacceptable behaviour and we have to do better.

BEN FORDHAM: What was the message you passed onto your staff?

ANGUS TAYLOR: That this is an environment, I want to make sure, where people are happy to work, they want to come to work, that they feel that they're getting a fair crack and most importantly that they're safe. And you know, I try to create that environment in every team I've worked with right through my career.

BEN FORDHAM: We appreciate your time this morning.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good on you, Ben.

Media contact:

Minister Taylor's office: 02 6277 7120