Speech at Electrify Parliament event

Thank you everyone very much for the welcome. Thank you also for bringing us here together. I also acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land we are meeting on this morning, the lands of the Ngunnawal and the Ngambri people. Senator Pocock, Monique Ryan, Allegra, of course, it's a terrific thing to get everyone together and I acknowledge all of the other colleagues who joined us this morning. Can I also note that you have some terrific panellists who are going to be speaking later this morning and thank Rewiring Australia, Smart Energy Council and Grattan Institute. And I see gathered here in the audience a lot of familiar faces, and a lot of people who have been working very hard, some for many years on climate action and I welcome all of you to the Parliament and thank you for being here also. Senators are correct, there is an enormous challenge but an enormous opportunity before us when it comes to electrification.  
There are three really good reasons for action. The first, of course, is climate. The International Renewable Energy Agency says that efficiency and electrification combined present 45% of the emissions abatement needed globally to 2050. In the Australian context, residential buildings make up more than 10% of emissions and 24% of electricity use.  

There are huge opportunities here for us to realise really cost-effective abatement opportunities when we’re thinking about our path to net-zero. But that's not the end of this.  

We want all Australians to live in comfortable and affordable homes, and energy efficiency and electrification offers Australian families the opportunities to live in a really comfortable and healthy way. That is something that we should all embrace and should all be looking to support. And the truth is that Australians are really good at adopting new technology. Australians like to lean in. We lead the world in rooftop solar, 30% of Australians have panels on their roofs.  

When we talk to people, we know that they are conscious of the need to make savings, cost savings in their energy consumption, and also the opportunities that technology presents. And the trick is of course, to unlock that for those families, to overcome the barriers that might exist and create space for investment.  

We know that there's an opportunity to keep expanding rooftop solar, but that's not the only technology that matters. There are a range of technologies that can be helpful. Hot water heating, improving the thermal shell of a building, space heating in particular and that can be very important for comfort in the very hot areas of our country and also in the very cold ones. It's that kind of thinking that drove our commitment in our last Budget in a substantial package around energy savings. So, we are delivering a $1.7 billion package.  

There is a billion-dollar equity injection to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and that is for critical work that will allow Australian families to connect both finance and technology necessary to make transformations in our own homes. We know as a leading indicator of that we need to be certain that people aren’t left behind in this journey and for that reason there is a $300 million application for social housing. And we seek to partner with states and territories to roll out a package of improvements in each state and territory to allow us to improve both community housing, public housing and also of course the Indigenous housing. And more recently we indicated that there is a $100 million available for local government.  

Across the country, local governments are operating community facilities, operating pools, sports fields, libraries, community centres. There are plenty of opportunities there for local governments to make cost savings, but also for them to operate those facilities in ways that allow their communities to see the benefits of energy efficiency and electrification. And finally, we know that small businesses have plenty of opportunities for saving so there is a Small Business Tax Incentive to allow small and medium-sized enterprises to make investments in their own businesses, that claim additional tax deductions. And we know that this can be very, very important in stimulating activity in that sector also. This is a down payment in a long-term transformation of the way that we approach energy policy as a government.  
We are working on a National Energy Performance Strategy that will create a long-term framework to build supply chain and capacity and energy system planning to enable this transformation over the long term. We aim to set a framework to ensure that this work is done in a careful and thoughtful and deliberate way. It is also true that we have time to plan and prepare and we should do what we can do to make that happen. 
I just want to conclude by saying that the heart of our approach as a government is choice. We want to expand choices for consumers and empower them with the information that they need. We want to create more choices, not less. That's why we are working on establishing energy latchings for existing homes. It's why we are expanding transparency and minimum standards on appliances. It's why we are seeking to develop greater access to financeable technology. This is a huge opportunity. We want Australians to have good choices. It’s an opportunity for Australians to save on costs, improve their comfort and play a part in tackling climate change. It's a terrific conversation. Again, I commend you all for coming together.