PM’s Covid diagnosis forces shift of crucial energy meeting to end of week

National Cabinet’s vital meeting to address soaring energy prices has been shifted to Friday after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tested positive for Covid-19.

Dec 06, 2022, updated Dec 06, 2022
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Wednesday’s meeting of state and territory leaders was originally postponed when the PM got the virus on Monday, leading to swift opposition calls for him to reverse that call.

They will now meet virtually on Friday, with Albanese saying he is keen to get prices down while striking a balance between coal and gas companies making a profit and households and small businesses affording to keep the lights on.

It’s the PM’s second bout of the disease, and he is up to date with his booster shots.

In his first interview since his positive test, the prime minister said he was feeling okay and at this stage had not taken any antiviral medication.

“Covid continues to be out there, we have to be as careful as possible,” he told ABC Radio.

“The good news for me is that … given I’ve had four shots now and it’s the second time I’ve contracted Covid, my immunity and the response should be quite high.”

Earlier, acting opposition leader Sussan Ley said millions of Australians were promised cost of living relief would be delivered at the meeting, adding that hundreds of thousands of Australians with Covid-19 had continued to work from home.

“Indeed, the National Cabinet has met almost exclusively via telepresence since its inception in early 2020,” she said.

“Hopefully the prime minister reconsiders his decision to cancel the meeting.”

The national cabinet meeting is set to focus on energy prices, with the federal government determined to act on soaring power bills before Christmas.

Albanese said it was wrong to think prices would shift straight away after the meeting.

“The idea that you make a decision and it has an impact immediately on prices is not right (because) what the default market offer will occur is expected to be in February,” he said.

“We’re trying to act before Christmas, which is what we said we would do, so there’s no actual delay.”

He said he was confident his state and territory counterparts would be able to work through the issues “with a bit of goodwill”.

The prime minister’s planned trip to Papua New Guinea next week is also up in the air.

Albanese first contracted Covid during the federal election campaign, forcing him into isolation for a week.

He still managed to campaign and do interviews from home but his frontbench team took charge of the bustling media schedule.

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