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 homes and small businesses and with the coalition opposing the move, Labor will need Greens backing to get it through the Senate.
Greens leader Adam Bandt (pictured with wife Claudia Perkins) 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 (pictured with girlfriend Jodie Haydon) says there is ‘nothing’ in the legislation that compensates producers
Mr 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.
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.
It comes as Mr Albanese is gearing up for a senate showdown this week when parliament is recalled to deal with the energy crisis.
The power price relief measures aren’t expected to come into effect until the second quarter of 2023
Mr Albanese said treasury analysis showed the cap would cut household bills by about $230
Mr Albanese said treasury analysis suggested the cap would reduce bills by around $230 and the ‘solution’ wouldn’t put further pressure on inflation.
But the government will need the support of both the Greens and at least one other independent senator, whether it be Jacqui Lambie or David Pocock.
Senator Lambie said she didn’t want to ‘not support it’, but she was waiting for more detail from the government.
‘I don’t think there is anybody that wants to stop relief going through, that’s for sure,’ she told the Nine Network.
‘It is not the relief bit that seems to be the issue, it is the gas and coal bit. But certainly we have intentions of supporting that on Thursday.’
On the question of whether the Coalition would support the legislation, Mr Albanese said he would be ‘stunned’ if the Liberal Party ‘vote for higher energy prices’.
Mr Bandt (pictured with Ms Perkins) said his party would engage constructively with the government
The deal and subsequent legislation has also drawn anger from industry, particularly from the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, which is demanding a meeting with Mr Albanese as it prepares to launch a multimillion-dollar campaign opposing the plan.
Mr Albanese said the temporary measure on gas would not have any implications on exports, nor on investment, and was willing to meet with the group this week.
‘We’re dealing with a reasonable response that puts downward pressure on the increases which are a direct result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,’ Mr Albanese said.
‘We’ve come up with measures which are responsible and that won’t have a negative impact on investment.
‘We’ve consulted about these measures for a long period of time. We didn’t rush into this.’
In a heated discussion on Channel 7, Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce fought for Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to provide more detail about what the legislation would actually target.
Mr Joyce said he wanted power prices to go down, but a better policy would be to ‘increase supply’.