The Greens will spend the next 24 hours trying to get Anthony Albanese to meet “at least some” of their demands in exchange for supporting Labor’s energy relief package.
The Albanese government has recalled federal parliament on Thursday to deal with emergency legislation that will allow it to intervene in the energy market in an effort to put downward pressure on soaring electricity prices.
Labor doesn’t have a majority in the upper house, meaning it needs the support of either the Coalition or The Greens and one crossbench senator in order to pass legislation.
Speaking after a virtual party room meeting on Tuesday, Greens leader Adam Bandt said his party was yet to finalise their position on Labor’s Bill.
Mr Bandt said the government was yet to release the draft legislation, but he would negotiate with Labor “in food faith” to have his party’s concerns addressed before Thursday.
The Greens are pushing for a two-year freeze on energy bills, a windfall tax on coal and gas companies’ profits and government support for households to switch out gas appliances.
“Obviously, this is all moving quickly and we are responding to it very quickly,” Mr Bandt told reporters.
“But we want to see more money in people’s pockets. We want to see coal and gas corporations paying more tax.
“And we want to see the government stepped in to help people replace their expensive-to-run appliances with cheaper, cleaner ones so that power bills stay down for a very long time.”
Labor’s Bill will introduce a mandatory code of conduct for the gas industry and cap the wholesale price of gas at $12 a gigajoule for 12 months.
It will also contain provisions for the commonwealth to give $1.5bn to states to spend on power bill rebates for small businesses and vulnerable residents.
But the details of the rebate package are yet to be thrashed out and Australians have been told they won’t see the resulting rebates until later in 2023.
Mr Albanese said on Tuesday morning the funding would go towards the states “hardest hit” by the energy crisis.
The federal government will also work with NSW and Queensland to assist those states in imposing a temporary coal price cap of $125 a tonne.
The Greens have also railed against Mr Albanese’s announcement that federal compensation would be provided to NSW and Queensland coal companies that are affected by the price cap.
Labor’s move to recall parliament for an unusual one-day sitting — after MPs had gone home for the year on December 2 — has been savaged by the Coalition.
Manager of opposition business Paul Fletche said the plan was a waste of money that would cost taxpayers more than $1m.
“The prime minister has had six months to come up with a plan in response to the energy crisis. There was no reason he could not have done so well before parliament rose,” he said in a statement.
Mr Fletcher suggested it would take more than a day to get the Bill through both houses of parliament.
“This is going to be a complicated and detailed piece of legislation. We haven’t yet seen it.”
The Coalition is yet to reveal whether it will support the Bill.
Peter Dutton said on Tuesday morning Labor 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,” the Opposition Leader told
Labor said before the election in May its energy policies — which include a plan to modernise Australia’s transmission network — would result in an average reduction on household power bills of $275 by 2025.
Mr Dutton said the government could “easily” bring on more gas supply, which he said would solve the energy crisis.