Greens hold firm on demand for two-year power bill freeze ahead of vote on coal and gas price caps

Home Politics Greens hold firm on demand for two-year power bill freeze ahead of vote on coal and gas price caps
Greens hold firm on demand for two-year power bill freeze ahead of vote on coal and gas price caps

The Greens are holding firm on their demand for power bills to be frozen for two years, as parliament prepares to reconvene to vote on a plan that would temporarily cap coal and gas prices.

The government says its plan to cap coal and gas prices for a year will spare households $230 in bill increases, but it admits even with the capped price it expects bills to rise further over the next two years.

Greens leader Adam Bandt, whose party’s support is needed to impose a price cap, has proposed a two-year freeze on bill increases, which he calculates will save households $750 in forecast price rises, to be funded by a UK-style “windfall tax” on fossil fuel companies.

“If electricity bills continue to rise it will put a lot of pressure on a lot of people,” Mr Bandt said.

“We want to see more money in people’s pockets, paid for by making the big corporations pay their fair share of tax.”

Mr Bandt said he would also negotiate whether the government could provide a financial-assistance scheme to help low-income workers replace appliances with cleaner and more energy-efficient models to help provide long-term relief that lasts beyond the temporary price cap.

But Mr Bandt indicated he was broadly supportive of gas and coal caps even if his proposals were rejected.

He noted that the legislation did not appear to include provisions to compensate affected coal companies — something the Greens had opposed — though the price caps for coal will be imposed at a state level, not by the Commonwealth.

Earlier today Energy Minister Chris Bowen said the government believed it would be a “very, very rare circumstance” where coal company production costs exceeded the $125 per tonne price cap and triggered compensation payments.

“They want to ensure supply of coal to their coal-fired power stations. We think that’s reasonable,” Mr Bowen said.

Treasury modelling suggests the price cap on coal and gas will curb forecast price increases over the next two years by $230 for the average household, though power prices are still expected to rise.

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