Albo’s looming Christmas nightmare as Greens, Pocock vow to block energy plan

Plans to compensate coal and gas companies following price caps could be derailed, with the Greens and independent Senator David Pocock indicating they will vote down the proposal, as key stakeholders say the plan could push power prices higher.

Dec 12, 2022, updated Dec 12, 2022
Greens leader Adam Bandt at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, . (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Greens leader Adam Bandt at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, . (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

The Greens are locked in a war of words with the federal government on whether proposed energy market intervention will compensate coal and gas companies.

Greens leader Adam Bandt says his party won’t support the price caps designed to address soaring power prices, insisting asking taxpayers to compensate producers for any losses would be unfair.

But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says there is “nothing” in the legislation that compensates producers, with gas prices simply temporarily capped at $12 a gigajoule for 12 months and coal at $125 a tonne.

Federal parliament will return on Thursday in order for the government to pass its plan to lower rising energy costs for households and small businesses, and with the coalition opposing the move, Labor will need Greens backing to get it through the Senate.

Bandt said his party would engage constructively with the government.

“We’ve been saying for some time this is urgent … we’re doing that in good faith and that’s a different approach to what the opposition is taking where they’re just saying ‘no’ to everything,” he told ABC Radio.

“This question of whether the public at a moment where people are doing it tough, why should the public be asked to put its hand in its pocket to give money to coal corporations who have been making record profits, including off the back of a dictator’s invasion of the Ukraine?”

The Greens have also argued power bill relief should be higher than the $230 per bill Treasury analysis suggests.

The PM said it struck the right balance and remained positive the bill would get through parliament to provide the pre-Christmas relief.

“Why can’t it be $1000 or $2000? … Why not $5000?” he told ABC Radio.

“We’ve come up with measures which are responsible, that won’t have a negative impact on investment.

“We’ve consulted about these measures for a long period of time … we’ve negotiated with states and territories to achieve an outcome in the interests of the nation.”

The relief measures aren’t expected to come into effect until the second quarter of 2023, with state and territory governments paying out the funds to customers.

Oil and gas exploration stakeholders have also requested an urgent meeting with the PM over the proposal, saying the intervention could reduce gas supply, pushing up prices for households and businesses.

The Australian Petroleum Production And Exploration Association said a draft of the legislation showed the government’s intended intervention into the market was so extensive they controlled it in an “essentially unlimited way”.

“A price cap combined with the emergence of other damaging measures will ultimately push up prices because they will undermine investment confidence and reduce new supply,” chief executive Samantha McCulloch said.

The coalition has also criticised the energy plan, saying there is little detail on how it will work.

“It is a monster in the making because it not only will fail in the short term but it will have a disastrous effect on the industry over the longer term because it kills supply,” energy spokesman Ted O’Brien said.


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