Turnbull backs in gas price cap calls

November 03, 2022 02:43 PM AEDT | By AAPNEWS
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Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has backed in calls for export controls on gas as a way of curbing rising power prices.

Speaking an an Australia Institute event in Sydney on Thursday Mr Turnbull said the government was missing out on the opportunity to help to keep prices low in the wake of increasing cost of living .

"The government should use its power to control gas exports to ensure that there is enough gas available in Australia to keep that price at or around the pre-crisis level," he said.

"The long-term solution is very clear - it is renewables plus storage, that is not even an arguable or debatable issue, it's just a question of how quickly you can roll it out."

While the former Liberal leader said there had been issues with the Australian gas market previously, the issue with rising costs today were the high cost of international gas prices.

He also said the failure to put in place an east coast domestic gas reserve, similar to that in Western Australia, was a mistake.

"It's harder to resolve it now, but it really needs to be done. I mean, it is crazy that the largest or second-largest exporter of LNG is not able to control gas at affordable prices for its own population," Mr Turnbull said.

"We have the ability to keep enough gas in Australia to protect our markets."

Meanwhile, Energy Minister Ed Husic has chastised large energy companies for not taking price pressures hitting families and businesses seriously.

Mr Husic said contract gas price offers after an agreement between the federal government and providers were just as high, if not higher, than before.

The agreement was supposed to secure supply for the domestic market and put downward pressure on prices.

"This is not a shortage of supply problem, this is a glut of greed problem," he told ABC radio on Thursday.

"They're not taking this issue seriously."

The minister said the "tone deaf" actions of gas companies were forcing the government to consider further interventions in the market.

He said LNG exporters were pricing gas in Australia at higher prices they couldn't expect to receive on the even more volatile international market.

"These companies are just not doing the right thing," he said.

Senior Liberal senator Simon Birmingham said the actions of big energy companies prove the government's negotiations haven't been effective, or there were further underlying issues to address.

"In previous years when we sat down as a government with gas companies to ensure effective supply, it also delivered price benefits," he told ABC radio.

Mr Husic is touting longer-term reforms to force the hands of gas companies as the prime minister defends his government's first budget not offering any help to struggling families.

Anthony Albanese said handouts would only add to inflation and drive up interest rates, instead spruiking greater investment in renewable energy as the answer.

But the government has refused to put a timeframe or a number on lower prices.

The prime minister's pre-election pledge to lower energy bills by $275 by 2025 has been all but scrapped from the government's talking points.

Asked directly if the $275 figure is still the benchmark target, Mr Albanese said "the guarantee is that renewables are the cheapest form of energy".


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