Treasurer Contacts ACCC Regarding Gas Prices

The Treasurer has written to Australia’s consumer watchdog expressing concern about the impact of soaring electricity and gas prices on households and businesses.

Jim Chalmers has asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to advise the government on any regulatory changes needed to ensure the market functions properly.

“While there are a number of factors driving these price increases, the ACCC plays a critical role in monitoring and communicating developments in the electricity and gas markets,” said he said in a statement Monday.

“It will be important for the ACCC to ensure that the factors that influence prices in these markets are made fully transparent.”

Dr Chalmers also called on the ACCC to investigate anti-competitive or false and misleading behavior by energy companies.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said nuclear power should be part of the energy debate as Australia seeks to cut emissions and electricity prices.

Mr Dutton revealed his leadership team on Sunday, which included nuclear energy proponent Ted O’Brien as energy spokesman.

“I’m not afraid to have a nuclear discussion if we’re going to have legitimate emissions cuts,” Dutton told ABC radio.

“I don’t think we should be afraid to talk about any technology that will have the ability to reduce emissions and electricity prices.

“It’s something we can consider over time. I don’t think we should exclude things just because it’s not fashionable to talk about them.

The Albanian government is considering short and long term measures to reduce the pressure on gas prices.

As part of this, Energy Minister Chris Bowen will meet with his state and territory counterparts on Wednesday to discuss solutions.

His Cabinet colleague Tony Burke said the government would rule nothing out in resolving the country’s energy crisis amid a perfect storm of factors impacting prices and supply.

Asked if more support for low-income people was needed, Burke said the government was considering its options.

“We are not ruling out anything effective at this time,” he said.

“It’s been a decade without an energy policy (under the previous government) that effectively led us to a situation where we ended up with this perfect storm.

“Some of the issues are international, but our ability to be able to deal with these international issues is very national, so there won’t be a quick response.”

Mr Burke said that while Labor had backed the relief payments announced in the last budget, the government was ‘not putting anything further on the table at this time’.

Former energy minister Angus Taylor, who is the new shadow treasurer, said the key was to work with big gas producers and not demonize them as some Labor candidates had done in the election.

The former government’s so-called toolkit – including Australia’s domestic gas safety mechanism or gas trigger – was used successfully to bring gas companies to the table to bring prices down, a said Mr. Taylor.

“The (mechanism) was put in place to ensure that the government could work with these gas companies to bring prices down and that’s exactly what happened.”

Mr Bowen argued that the gas trigger, which allows exports to be diverted to domestic supply, is a complex process that would bring no price relief before January if passed now.

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