Friday Feb 03, 2023

Minister fuels up for gas price action


The government will take whatever action is necessary to help ease gas prices as supply tightens across the east coast, Energy Minister Chris Bowen says.

However the minister is remaining non-committal over pulling the gas trigger – known as the Australian Domestic Gas Reservation Mechanism – to divert exports and shore up domestic supply, saying such a move has not been ruled in or out.

Even if the legislated trigger is pulled, it would have no impact on the short-term energy crisis, Mr Bowen said.

“That’s a misunderstanding of how the mechanism works or will work – it cannot come into force until January 1 next year,” he told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

“Even if it’s pulled today, it’s not a short-term answer.”

The Australian Energy Market Operator has enacted the gas supply guarantee mechanism, which should improve gas supply in Australia’s southeastern states in the coming days.

“The Albanese Labor government will take whatever action is necessary to ensure ongoing reliability and affordability for the energy markets … based on expert advice,” the minister said.

Mr Bowen has spoken to the energy ministers of all states and territories, as well as suppliers, but maintains the best long-term solution to energy prices will be the increased use of renewable energy and further work on the transmission system.

“If we had more storage, more renewables and better transmission we would be much better placed to deal with current challenges,” he said.

“That’s exactly what our Powering Australia plan seeks to implement, but it’ll take some time.”

He said the previous government was not responsible for unseen factors, but it was the coalition’s fault the system was not robust enough.

Meanwhile, former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said the government needed to pull the trigger if domestic supply faltered.

“If we’re going to run out of gas then yes he should, otherwise you start paying global parity prices for gas and by reason of the war in Ukraine, they’re going to be astronomical,” Mr Joyce told radio station 2GB.

He said affordable power was essential to look after people who were doing it tough.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton says there needs to be a sensible conversation about Australia’s energy mix, with renewable technology not able to sustain regional towns.

“People who want to go to 100 per cent renewables, well that’s fine but if we get to a couple of weeks of weather, and the battery doesn’t last any more than a couple of hours, you’re out of electricity,” he told 2GB.

“The fact is the technology doesn’t exist. We’ve got to have a bit of a frank jolt into reality in Australia about where we’re headed.”

The government remains coy on cost of living measures in the short term after the treasurer flagged further relief in Labor’s first budget in October.

Reductions to the fuel excise, tax cuts and welfare support unveiled in the last coalition budget in March are all due to end in the coming months.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers says the new government is being upfront with people about the cost of living crisis and that it will be hard to find the billions of dollars to continue cuts to the fuel excise or implement other rebates.

“Our job as the new government, and my job in the October budget, will be to bring down a cost of living package that encompasses areas like child care, like cheaper medicines, like our efforts to get power bills down,” he told the Nine Network.


Source link

Back to Top