Libs vow to slash power bills by 25 per cent
A PROMISE to slash power costs by 25 per cent will launch Scott Morrison's final campaign week as he bids to appeal to the hip pockets of voters.
The Prime Minister will commit a re-elected Coalition government to an electricity "price target" to sway undecided voters.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor will vow to reduce the spot price in the national electricity market to less than $70/MWh by the end of 2021.
A Daily Telegraph analysis shows that once the reduction has filtered through to consumers the typical NSW household could expect to save about $185 on their annual bill.
Mr Taylor will tell the NSW Business Chamber that commercial and industrial customers will save even more.
The announcement of the commitment sets up a showdown on power prices, shifting the debate away from climate policy in the final week of the campaign.
It comes as Labor has pledged to force more businesses into a rebooted cap and trade scheme to cut emissions, which the Coalition claims will impose billions in costs.
"While reliability has been a priority for this government, our focus has always been on price and customers," Mr Taylor said.
"I am pleased to announce that a re-elected Morrison government will introduce a price target to accompany our emissions target. The government will target a 25 per cent reduction in the average NEM (national energy market) wholesale spot price to less than $70/MWh by the end of 2021."
Mr Taylor said an average wholesale price of less than $70/MWh across Australia was expected to reduce retail prices for households and small businesses to around 25c/kWh excluding GST, down from around 30c/kWh today.
In NSW last year the typical household consumed 4215 kWh of electricity during the year, according to the Australian Energy Market Commission.
So far this year the average spot price in NSW was $88.90.
"Given wholesale prices make up a larger share of the electricity costs paid by commercial and industrial customers, it is reasonable to expect that a 25 per cent reduction in the average wholesale price would deliver even greater savings for large energy users," Mr Taylor said.
The Coalition has based its price target on the savings identified in the consumer watchdog's landmark report into energy prices released last year.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission estimated that if all of its 56 recommendations were implemented the average household would save between 20 and 25 per cent on their electricity bill.
Getting more power into the national grid would be vital to meeting the target to ease the tight supply.
To meet the target the Coalition would set a framework for its Underwriting New Generation Investments program, which was the key policy lever that would ensure the target was reached.
BATTLING IT OUT FOR AN UNHAPPY GILMORE
It was standing room only at Minnamurra's Progress Hall for Tuesday night's Gilmore electorate candidates' forum.
Granted, the hall is only small, so perhaps 60 interested locals were there to hear the Liberals' Warren Mundine, Labor's Fiona Phillips, the National Party's Katrina Hodgkinson, Greens' Mary McCallum and Christian Democrat Serah Kolukulapally thrash out the issues.
The evening was also attended by as many police as there were candidates. How come? "Eggings," a young officer said. Prime Minister Scott Morrison had been egged that morning.
This seat was won by then-Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis by just 0.7 per cent, which makes Gilmore the closest race of any in NSW.
Regrettably, race has been a factor in this campaign in more ways than one.
A campaign poster for Mundine was last week altered by vandals who added a large black moustache and big Afro hairdo. In response, the candidate quickly located a photograph of himself in his 20s when he sported a similar look. "Labor campaign making me look younger," Mundine joked online.
But he's down to business at a focused forum.
Gilmore takes in a big chunk of the NSW south coast, from farms inland to coastal holiday spots and industrial areas closer to Wollongong, so no one set of answers is ever going to cover this electorate.
For Nowra hairdressing apprentice Ellie Sprowles, 20, chief concerns are climate change and apprentice wages: "I'm on $11 an hour."
Cafe owner Tonya Hughes, 49, is also focused on finance: "I am paying on average $8000 per quarter for electricity and I pay about $1500 for gas." That's about $10,000 every three months.
Back at Progress Hall, Greens' candidate McCallum wants some changes of her own. "The electric car industry is just waiting for us," she told the crowd. Yes, that's a Green backing a large manufacturing enterprise.
Former state MP Hodgkinson was more polished, and her brief biography was impressively wry.
Explaining that her husband Jack was related to most of the people west of the Great Divide while she was related to most people from the west, Hodgkinson observed that some delicate genealogical research was required before they began dating. "I don't have the section 44 problem," she says. "I've got the opposite."
Labor's Phillips comes across better in person than on television.
During one recent appearance she called for Mundine to "go back where he came from", which was an odd demand to make of an indigenous Australian.
Mundine has a singular focus, and it runs through all of his ideas on society and advancement: "Jobs, jobs, jobs." With Gilmore suffering youth unemployment at double the NSW rate, his was a timely call.
FLOOD OF 200,000 ELDERLY IMMIGRANTS TO HIT SYDNEY
More than 200,000 older foreigners from China, India and the Middle East are expected to flock to Sydney and Melbourne over the next three years under Labor's proposed parent visas.
Independent analysis of Bill Shorten's decision to hand out an unlimited number of visas to Australia for parents of migrants reveals affluent areas, including Chatswood and Ryde, can expect an immediate population surge.
The Australian Population Research Institute report warns that once the relaxed visa requirements were in place, the long-term effects would be locked in with the policy difficult to reverse.
Institute head Bob Birrell said hundreds of thousands of households from India and the Middle East - that were previously ineligible to bring their parents to Australia because of provisions limiting existing parent visas to families where the majority of children were already in Australia - would now have access under Labor's scheme.
As at June 2018 there were 592,000 migrants from India and a growing number of residents in Australia who were born in the Middle East, including 71,390 from Iran, 87,750 from Iraq, and 59,730 from Afghanistan.
Dr Birrell said Australia's 650,700 Chinese migrants had already shown they were keen to bring their parents to Australia, with the majority in the queue of 100,000 for existing parents' visas from China.
"Labor's initiative potentially opens the floodgates for parent migration," he said.
"It appears to be a reckless and irresponsible policy bid."
PARTIES COUNT COST OF GREEN HEALTH HIT
More than 13 million Australians with private health insurance would face steep price hikes for their policies under any plan to axe the taxpayer-funded rebate of up to $1000 for a single pensioner and $1500 for a young family, new modelling reveals.
The Greens want to abolish the subsidy in a move which Health Minister Greg Hunt has warned would drive the cost of private health up.
Bill Shorten, who visited cancer patients in Brisbane yesterday, has declared he has "no plans to lower the rebate" but Labor health spokeswoman Catherine King said she would not
pre-empt the party's response to a Productivity Commission into the sector.
Ms King yesterday ruled out abolishing the rebate.
Coalition analysis of Australian Taxation Office data reveals any move to reduce the rebate would hit Australians on low incomes hardest. More than one quarter of all people with private health insurance have an annual income below $30,000 and almost half have an annual income under $50,000.
Health Minister Greg Hunt accused Mr Shorten of likening the private health insurance rebate to negative gearing - a tax deduction which Labor plans to slash: "Mr Shorten needs to … outline what he will do to private health insurance."
Mr Shorten said: "We have no plans to lower the private health insurance rebate, but what we do have is a plan to cap the fee increases."
HIGH-SPEED RAIL BACK ON HORIZON
Sydney will be at the centre of Labor's ambitious plans to build a high-speed rail network connecting capital cities along the east coast.
Opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese will today pledge $1 billion to begin acquiring land along the 1748km route and set up a High Speed Rail Authority if Labor is elected.
The party has not detailed which section of the line would be prioritised but Mr Albanese backed in the feasibility study completed into the project in 2013 recommending Sydney to Canberra be built first.
"High-speed rail would allow passengers to move between capital cities in as little as three hours at speeds of up to 350km/h," Mr Albanese said.
"The project will also be an economic game-changer for communities along its path."
The 2013 business case found that the typical express journey times would be 2 hours and 37 minutes between Sydney and Brisbane. In 2012, it was costed at $114 billion to build in total.
The Coalition has also announced plans for east coast fast rail, committing $44 million to developing a range of business cases and $2 billion for the Melbourne to Geelong link where trains would travel at 160km/h.
DOLING OUT DOLLARS ON WELFARE
Workers will be forced to pay a whopping $39 billion to give those on the dole a weekly pay rise of $75 - slugging the average earner an extra $3200 in tax.
As Labor ramps up its rhetoric on needing to boost Newstart because it's "so low it's stopping people from getting work", exclusive government modelling reveals how the much the baked-in costs would hammer the federal Budget.
Unions and the Australian Council of Social Service want a weekly $75 increase to the fortnightly rate of $538.80 for singles and $582.80 for singles with children. Newstart is indexed twice a year but welfare groups argue it hasn't risen in line with the cost of living for the past 25 years.
The modelling shows increasing Newstart, plus related payments like Austudy and parenting payments, by $75 a week from September would cost the Budget more than $39 billion over the medium term.
From next financial year it would punch an annual $2.4 billion hole in government coffers, ballooning to more than $4 billion year by 2029-30.
Over the medium term, a median full-time wage earner will have to pay an extra $3233 in tax to cover the dole increase, or $237 a year from next financial year.
A Labor spokeswoman yesterday said it would review "the adequacy of Newstart and related payments and supports". "We don't do reviews to cut payments," she said.
CLIVE SACKS A 9/11 DOUBTER
Clive Palmer has sacked a United Australia Party candidate who peddled conspiracy theories about the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Tony Pecora, who was running for the seat of Melbourne, claimed the 2001 attacks which killed almost 3000 people were the work of "globalist forces" and suggested "the whole story doesn't make sense".
After being confronted with his comments yesterday, a spokesman for Mr Palmer confirmed Mr Pecora, a businessman who founded a solar power company, had been disendorsed as a candidate.
SECURITY FEARS CLOUD LIBERAL LAUNCH
Tens of thousands of protesters could send the Melbourne CBD into lockdown on Sunday as the Coalition officially launches its re-election campaign.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will front the Liberal Party faithful at a location being kept secret, due to security fears
One party source told The Daily Telegraph the event had the potential to be the "worst show of violence" since the notorious S11 protests against meetings of the World Economic Forum in September 2000.
Even Cabinet ministers haven't been informed of the location amid fears a massive crowd of protesters - ranging from unions, climate activists, refugee advocates to radical far Left and Right groups - will target the event.
Both the Grand Hyatt on Collins St and Plenary at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre have been touted as likely venues.
Victoria Police said it was aware of the event and had spoken with organisers to ensure safety.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister John Howard has confirmed he will not attend the launch on Sunday.
The 79-year-old leader - who returns home from London today - will spend the weekend resting before flying to Perth on Monday.
The decision comes after it was revealed warring former PMs Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull would also not attend.
The lack of star power contrasts with Labor's high-profile launch which featured former leaders Paul Keating, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.
HOME AND AWAY FRAY ROCKS JA
Bennelong MP John Alexander has brushed off questions on his personal life after being questioned on whether he had finally bought a property in the electorate which he has held since 2010.
Liberal MP Mr Alexander has long been under fire for living a 30km commute away from the seat, on the other side of Sydney Harbour, at his partner Deborah Chadwick's North Bondi pad.
The former tennis great, 67, whose high-profile Labor challenger Dr Brian Owler lives outside the electorate, said he had been sharing an apartment with his daughter, Georgia, in Epping over the past year.
"I've been there eight or nine months now and have only been (staying in North Bondi) for a handful of nights," he said. "I'm an Epping resident."
Mr Alexander, who was forced into a by-election battle to retain the seat during the dual-citizenship fiasco in 2017, said he looked at buying an apartment in Epping about 18 months ago, "because I knew the market was going down".
"I had three-quarters of the money in cash, but I couldn't borrow 25 per cent from the bank," he said. "They said 'we are not lending in Epping'."
GRINDR ADS TARGET LIB
Labor last night launched an aggressive digital advertising campaign through gay dating app Grindr to highlight the Liberals' perceived "homophobic" problems.
The campaign will seize on comments from Scullin candidate Gurpal Singh, who previously made comments suggesting children raised by gay and lesbian parents were at risk of sexual abuse. The ads will target gay men using the popular dating app across the Melbourne seats of Higgins, McNamara and Kooyong.
Attack ads on Chisholm candidate Gladys Liu over her Safe Schools comments will also target voters in her electorate.