The opposition has called for the government to “get back to the drawing board” as gas retailers struggle under the temporary price cap.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers has conceded there will be “some issues” as the 12-month wholesale price cap on gas rolls out.
But he said Australians shouldn’t have to suffer at the hands of producers not doing the right thing, adding that the consumer watchdog will soon release compliance and enforcement guidelines.
It was revealed on Monday that some energy retailers had been forced to stop taking on new commercial and industrial customers, with some smaller companies unable to take on new residential customers.
This is because producers have not been properly implementing the price cap of $12 a gigajoule. Instead, some contracts have risen to as much as $40 a gigajoule.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the gas price cap would be enforced by the consumer watchdog. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman
Dr Chalmers urged for patience as the kinks get ironed out, considering the caps were only agreed to days before Christmas.
“We do need to remember that this gas price cap, which is a substantial intervention in the market to try and take some of the edge off these forecast price rises … only came in a few weeks ago,” he told ABC News.
“And inevitably over the Christmas period, as businesses try and negotiate new deals, obviously that won’t just happen immediately, there will be some issues as we implement this gas price cap.
“The ACCC will provide the kind of guidance which some players in the market have been seeking.”
But the opposition said the industry should not have been left in the “state of flux” to begin with.
Some gas retailers have been forced to suspend taking on new customers as producers don’t abide by wholesale price caps. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brenton Edwards
Opposition’s spokesman for immigration and citizenship Dan Tehan, who has been speaking on the issue this week, said Australians were “still waiting to see what implementation” of the cap would look like.
“You’ve got to remember, it’s the wholesalers who placed the price cap, not the retailer,” he told ABC Radio.
“So the retailers are out there trying to work out how can they get a wholesale price, and wholesalers don’t know what a reasonable price is going to look like and what they need to negotiate.
“The government needs to get back to the drawing board and work out what’s gone wrong and actually needs to fix the situation and we’re not seeing any urgency.”
Dr Chalmers would not be drawn on whether the federal government had implemented the price cap too quickly.
“I think we took our time to consider the various options that we had to try and moderate some of these price increases for energy in our economy. We said around budget time in October that we were looking for a regulatory option here by December,” he said.