Anthony Albanese has denied giving Australians false hope about bringing their power bills down amid concerns of rising energy prices and not enough gas to keep warm through winter.
Prices in Victoria and parts of Queensland could jump by up to 30 per cent from July 1, yet the Prime Minister said he and his government had shielded consumers from the worst of power price rises.
The National Energy Market Operator has warned of gas shortfalls this winter unless more production is set aside specifically for domestic use.
As the federal opposition routinely reminds Mr Albanese, during last year’s election campaign he promised on “97 occasions to lower power bills by $275”.
Mr Albanese said the policy his government devised in late 2021, which anticipated an opportunity to bring down power prices, was all but thrown out the window given global circumstances.
He denied overpromising or being too optimistic.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has denied giving Australians false hope about power bills. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
“What we did was we produced a policy at the end of 2021, and we released the costing for that policy and the economic modelling that was done by Australia’s leading energy economists,” he told ABC Melbourne.
“What they didn’t take into account, and no one did at the time, was that the Russian invasion of Ukraine would lead to the extraordinary global spike in energy prices, and because we’re not immune from that, it had impact here as it has right around the world.”
As for when Australians might begin to see their bills come down from the eye-watering amounts, Mr Albanese said: “There is real pressure on that, but that is something that is happening globally.”
Mr Albanese has been campaigning with Labor candidate for Aston, Mary Doyle, this week in Melbourne. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty
He was met with pushback by host Raf Epstein, who asked him how long he expected Australians to “cop” the argument of it being worse overseas.
“I think people would understand that Australia isn’t immune from the impact of the war that has gone on in Ukraine,” Mr Albanese replied.
“What we have done is intervene, we haven’t sat back and done nothing about it.
“Our intervention – $1.5bn of additional support will give energy price relief for families as well as for businesses, (which) will have an impact on lowering the price from where it would have been if that hadn’t occurred.
“We recognise that people are doing it tough, but we’re being straight with people – I think people do understand and do want politicians to be upfront and that is what we are being.”
On Thursday, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton slammed the government for not doing more to help families and businesses.
“Labor just can’t manage money, and every time they get into government we always see these same problems emerge,” he said.
“For many, many families and small businesses, they just can’t balance all of the increase in the cost of living pressures that they’ve faced under this government, and that they’re going to face in the coming years as well.
“The government’s response is to say, ‘well, you know, suck it up because it could be more’. It’s just no response.
“It’s telling that the Prime Minister has not once ever mentioned that $275 (promise made 97 times) since he took the office of prime ministership.
“He needs to, I think, apologise to the Australian people or explain if he’s going to recommit or deliver on this promise.”
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