Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Education and Training (Senator Birmingham) to a question without notice asked by Senator Hanson-Young today relating to renewable energy.

This motion is of course is in relation to the storms in South Australia some two weeks ago. These storms were some of the worst that our state has faced in 50 years, with gale force winds, flooding and incredible damage right across our state—so much so that 22 transmission towers were destroyed and, as we all know, our state was plunged into darkness with a blackout. While some areas of our state, mainly the metropolitan areas, had that power restored relatively quickly, within a matter of hours, some parts of our state remained without power for many days following.

In the midst of all of this—while we had gale force winds blowing, floods happening, homes and businesses being destroyed and emergency personnel and hundreds of volunteers out in our state trying to do whatever they could to help their neighbours, their friends and other members of the community whose homes had been destroyed and whose businesses were being damaged—we had some members of this parliament doing everything they could to use this opportunity for their own political means.

We had the Minister for the Environment and Energy firstly try to blame the blackout in South Australia on our large reliance on renewable energy. We had one of our own senators, Senator Nick Xenophon, attacking renewable energy before anyone really knew exactly what was going on. Straight out of the blocks, people like Senator Xenophon, Barnaby Joyce and even the crazy senator that we have here from Queensland—

Senator McGrath: Which one? There are a lot of us!

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: It has been pointed out to me that there are quite a few of them. The One Nation senator said that this was of course all because of the hoax called global warming.

Senator Brandis: Madam Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I do not think it is parliamentary to refer to other senators as ‘crazy’.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Hanson-Young, you might want to rephrase that comment.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: The craziness I was referring to was that coming from Senator Malcolm Roberts, who believes that climate change does not exist and is a hoax set up by the CIA—craziness indeed!

Let me put this to you: this storm was being used for political purposes by people in this chamber to drive their ideological attack against renewable energy. Thankfully, the South Australian public have not bought it. They knew that, in the midst of this storm, when the transmission towers were blown over and the power went out across our state, all this would have happened regardless of whether it was renewable energy, coal-fired power energy or even nuclear energy, because the power was not able to get to the places it needed to.

Above all else, what has been incredibly disappointing in this is to see what Malcolm Turnbull, as the Prime Minister, has done in the days and weeks following this power outage in South Australia. This is a Prime Minister who, only 12 months ago, said that, in order to power our nation into the future, we needed to be investing and believing in and supporting renewable energy and the renewable energy sector. And now we have him out kicking wind energy and the renewable energy sector, when they need the support of our Prime Minister the most.

Who is really pulling the strings here? It is former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and, even in this chamber, the likes of Senator Eric Abetz. These are the people who are calling the shots these days in the coalition government and we have a Prime Minister like Malcolm Turnbull who looks nothing more than a fraud today. He is a Prime Minister who said that he believed in renewable energy, that he would do everything he could to support that sector, and now he is kicking—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Brandis, on a point of order?

Senator Brandis: It is also unparliamentary to refer to a member of parliament as a ‘fraud’, which was the insult used against the Prime Minister. That should be withdrawn.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Hanson-Young, I have two points. Firstly, please refer to members in the other place by their correct title and, secondly, you may wish to withdraw that.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: There is obviously some tetchiness over on the government side from Senator Brandis—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Brandis, on a point of order?

Senator Brandis: The senator is reflecting on your ruling with that last remark. Something is either parliamentary or it is unparliamentary, and when you rule a remark to be unparliamentary it should be withdrawn without comment.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Hanson-Young, I will remind you that I did ask you to withdraw that comment.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: I withdraw the comment that related directly to the Prime Minister being a fraud and I will leave that for other people to judge outside of this chamber. Senator Brandis knows very well that it is not indeed the Prime Minister who is able to call the shots in his own government right now; that it is the right wing grumps on the backbench of the coalition government who are driving this ideological crusade against renewable energy and, of course, making the Prime Minister look weaker than ever. At a time when we should be investing in renewable energy, when the sector needs as much support as possible, we have a Prime Minister missing in action. If you want to see energy security in our state, invest in battery storage and invest in the solar thermal plant in Port Augusta.

Question agreed to.Source: Senate Files Commonwealth of Australia

QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS

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