Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the $1.5b package for power bill relief will be targeted to states “hardest hit” by the energy crisis.
The federal government last week agreed with the states on a plan that would cap coal and gas prices for a year, and also provide $1.5b in relief for small businesses and households – primarily those receiving Commonwealth payments.
The piece of legislation will come before Parliament on Thursday after it was recalled in light of the decision.
Mr Albanese says the money would be geared towards states which are part of the national energy market and hardest hit, namely southeast Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
In what could indicate Western Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern Territory could miss out on a major share of the funding pie, Mr Albanese said they “haven’t been impacted by exposure to the global crisis”.
“States like WA are doing much better because they have a gas reservation policy that they introduced all those years ago, and that’s proven to be quite a wise policy because … they haven’t been impacted by exposure,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane.
On Monday, WA Premier Mark McGowan said despite the state avoiding the estimated 56 per cent hike in energy bills, pensioners and other welfare recipients would get a cut of the rebate package.
“It’s a good outcome in that we get some of the benefits without the problems (the other states face),” he said.
“I’m not going to object that it might be to a different scale between us and a state that’s got a 50 per cent power increase next year when ours is 2.5 per cent.
“If we can participate and those people who are most needy can get a benefit out of it, we will.”
Mr Albanese said the government would look at mirroring a gas reservation agreement nationally, but right now temporary measures were crucial.
“We’re dealing with … both those longer term issues like how are we less exposed to global energy markets by having greater resilience and greater supply … but in the short term, you can’t solve supply issues instantly,” he said.
The government is working to get the Greens onside to pass the legislation through the Senate, and while the minor party say they are eager to ease the burden on families and businesses, they do not want “greedy” coal and gas giants to be compensated, and are once again proposing a windfall tax.
The Coalition has indicated they will not support the Bill.
“I would find it remarkable that Peter Dutton, or anyone else is going to say ‘yep, we’re happy to sit back and just allow for increases in energy prices’,” Mr Albanese said.
“We need to act to protect businesses and protect households, and I’m confident that the parliament will see that they have responsibility to act.”
Earlier, Mr Dutton was asked on ABC Radio why the coalition was “standing in the way” of the government’s plan to ease power bills by $230.
Mr Dutton said the government had gone to the election having made a promise “97 times” that power prices would be reduced by $275.
“They had five months to work out between the election and the October budget how they were going to deliver on that promise,” Mr Dutton said.
“The $230 is an estimate, but it’s not based on a final plan.”
Mr Dutton said the government could “easily” bring more gas on, which would bring around a solution to the energy crisis.