PM promises action on power price relief

November 04, 2022 01:39 PM AEDT | By AAPNEWS
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Households struggling with rising power bills will have relief, with the prime minister promising to crack down on energy companies that don't pass massive profits on to customers. 

Anthony Albanese says the government is working towards a solution for Australians with the power companies and it will be discussed as a priority when cabinet meets next week. 

But that doesn't mean he is not prepared to take action against unfair behaviour. 

"We know there has been substantial increases in profits at the same time as families and businesses are hurting from the increased charges and that is why we want to work for a solution as a matter of priority," he told reporters on the Sunshine Coast on Friday.

"We want this to be co-operative but that shouldn't be read as (though) we're not prepared to take action if the energy suppliers are not prepared to co-operate here." 

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the government was only offering "thought-bubbles" while families were hurting.

A Greens proposal to save households more than $700 on their electricity bills has been rejected by Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles.

Modelling for the Greens carried out by the Parliamentary Budget Office has shown a windfall tax on coal and gas companies would allow for electricity bills to be frozen for two years at pre-Ukraine invasion costs.

The modelling showed the median household saving would be $776.

Under the proposed plan, retail electricity bills would be frozen at the same rates as those before February 2022, with the windfall tax making up the difference.

But Mr Marles said he didn't think the Greens' plan would drive down power prices beyond gas.

He said the government was pushing forward to get renewable energy sources into the grid which would be the cheapest form of power in the future.

"We're not pretending that's going to happen overnight but we are working on this in the short-term, the medium-term and in the long-term to make sure we get an answer," Mr Marles told ABC radio on Friday.

Greens leader Adam Bandt proposed the measure to help more people deal with rising living costs.

"We're in a crisis and instead of asking everyday people to pay more, Labor should freeze power bills and put a windfall tax on coal and gas corporations," he said.

Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor said the government was "demonising gas producers" and gas supply projects had been cut from the government's latest budget which would drive up prices.

But Industry Minister Ed Husic stood by his blistering comments towards energy companies where he accused them of not taking price pressures on families and businesses seriously.

He told Sydney radio 2GB supply was not the issue, but rather energy providers deliberately setting "extraordinary prices" on gas so that it's not bought locally and can be exported. 

But the peak body representing the oil and gas industry said the minister's comments were irresponsible.

"It is easy to misrepresent how the gas market works, but the facts are that average domestic prices are well below international prices," Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association chief Samantha McCulloch said.

Ms McCulloch said most businesses were on long-term contracts at lower prices because of the way the wholesale gas market operates.

"Minister Husic has continued his recent efforts of name-calling and sledging leading Australian businesses that support 80,000 workers and enable almost $500 billion of economic activity annually," she said.


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