Legislative Council: Thursday, October 19, 2023


Regional Development

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:33): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development on the topic of regional development.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: Nippy's is a third-generation family business with three manufacturing sites across South Australia, supplying juice and milk to Australians. On their previous three-year electricity plan, the business paid $916,000 a year. The business's new electricity quote hit the business with a $1.7 million per year electricity contract, which is an increase of 95 per cent. Joint Managing Director at Nippy's, Ben Knispel, has said that the electricity bill 'was a complete shock and was scary and comes as a raft of costs continue rising.'

He also said that on top of the electricity increases, other costs are also going up, including milk coming from the farms which had jumped by 25 per cent, and that the business had no choice but to pass on the cost to the consumer. My question to the minister is: as Minister for Regional Development, what is she doing to keep the cost of business down for primary producers and, ultimately, the cost of living down for South Australian households?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:35): I thank the honourable member for her question. I think the electricity market faces some very challenging conditions because of the combination of bad decisions from the former Marshall Liberal government, a lost decade of national policy vacuum under the former Liberal national Coalition as well as, of course—

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! I can't hear the minister.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: —global disruption following the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia. These are incredibly challenging conditions which have pushed energy prices higher, and of course we saw nothing under the former government to address the basic issues.

Fortunately, the Malinauskas Labor government is working hard to counter some of those things. We often hear about the impacts not only on primary producers but also on residential customers and of course the consequence of the privatisation of the electricity market by the then Liberal government is still being felt by South Australians. It is incredibly difficult for them to deal with the long-term impacts of that decision backed by the former Liberal government.

Our government has been doing a number of things, including making sure that we don't need to rely on outdated modes of electricity production. We have a strong record in renewables, a strong record in terms of developing the hydrogen opportunity, and one of the key outcomes of the hydrogen opportunity once fully realised will be a positive impact for industry.