Anthony Albanese is gearing up for a senate showdown this week when parliament is recalled to deal with the energy crisis.
National cabinet on Friday agreed to “extraordinary” temporary measures to target soaring energy bills, with the government now seeking to impose a price cap on both coal and gas and offer subsidies to vulnerable Australians.
If the legislation was to pass, gas would be capped at $12 a gigajoule, and coal prices would not exceed $125 a tonne for 12 months.
A code of conduct would also be introduced.
The plan has been met with ire from industry, and the Coalition has indicated they will not support the deal when back in Canberra on Thursday, meaning 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.
Mr Albanese said treasury analysis suggested the cap would reduce bills by around $230 and the “solution” wouldn’t put further pressure on inflation.
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.”
Greens leader Adam Bandt said he and his party understood the urgency and were prepared to work with the government “in good faith”.
He said while he supported helping Australians pay their power bills, it would be impossible for the Greens to support a plan that would compensate coal and gas corporations.
“It will be difficult for the Greens to support giving public money to coal and gas corporations at a time when we’re trying to meet our climate targets,” he told ABC Radio.
Mr Albanese said he had already spoken to Mr Bandt and was willing to continue having conversations with the Greens this week.
“I am very confident that when faced with, ‘Do you want a price cap on gas’?, a majority of the House and the Senate will say yes,” he said.
“And when asked, ‘Do you want relief for people who are commonwealth recipients to reduce their energy bills’?, they will say yes as well. That is what this legislation does.”
As for compensation for gas and coal companies, Mr Albanese said it was “reasonable” to expect payments should their cost of production be greater than $12 a gigajoule or $125 a tonne.
But that was not contained within the legislation, he said.
“This is not a complex package, it’s a very simple package,” he said.
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”.
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”.