Treasurer Jim Chalmers admits there is more the government can do to help Australians cope with skyrocketing energy prices ahead of a meeting between federal and state energy ministers.
After copping serious heat over the budget’s failure to directly address soaring energy prices, Mr Chalmers said government intervention in the energy sector was not off the cards.
“We’ve levelled with people and said that our expectation is that we will have to do more here,” Mr Chalmers told reporters on Friday.
Electricity prices are forecast to rise by 56 per cent in the next two years.
Mr Chalmers said the government had “funded and empowered energy regulators to do more” to tackle rising prices.
He also flagged reforming the code of conduct for pricing regulation in the gas market.
“If there is more that we can responsibly and fiscally do, when it comes to gas prices in particular, we will do it,” he said.
Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen is meeting with state energy ministers to discuss solutions to climbing prices.
The meeting will include briefings from the Australian Energy Regulator, Australian Energy Market Operator and the Australian Energy Market Commission.
SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis and Queensland Energy Minister Mick de Brenni have both called for the government to implement measures to force gas and coal producers to lower prices when selling to the domestic market.
NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean is expected to suggest coal and gas export taxes be used to subsidise the electricity bills of households and businesses.
ACT Energy Minister Shane Rattenbury has suggested a windfall profits tax on fossil fuel companies that would be put back into the pockets of Australians in the form of rebates.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton savaged the government’s handling of energy prices in his budget reply speech on Thursday.
“In this budget, instead of going down by $275 as promised, Labor’s plan will see your electricity bill go up by more than 50 per cent over the next two years,” Mr Dutton said in parliament.
He slammed the budget, claiming it has “broken faith” with Australians after the government made an election promise to reduce energy bills by $275 by 2025.
“It’s a budget which breaks promises rather than keeps them,” he said.
Anthony Albanese hit back at Mr Dutton, slamming him for being “stuck in the past”.
“I thought last night was the weakest budget reply that I‘ve seen in my time in politics,” the Prime Minister told Sunrise on Thursday.
“He had nothing to say about the future and Peter Dutton is going to have to do a lot better than that.”
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