FRIDAY, 26 MAY 2023
SUBJECTS: Energy prices, Energy Bill Relief
NATALIE BARR: Well, millions of Aussies are in for power bill shock from July the 1st. The energy regulator has announced it will allow retailers to lift prices for existing customers in four states. Households could see bills surge by around 21 per cent in New South Wales to as much as 25 per cent in Victoria with South Australia and Queensland in the middle. The regulator blames high wholesale energy costs for the hikes. Let’s bring in Education Minister Jason Clare and Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley.
Good morning to both of you
JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Good morning.
SUSSAN LEY: Good morning.
BARR: Jason, residents, small businesses are going to be really hit hard by this. Are you going to give them more relief?
CLARE: Nat, we know that people are doing it tough. We know small businesses are doing it tough. That’s why the $500 that we’re paying off power bills is so important. What that means for households is that for 5 million homes around the country, their power bills will be less this year than they were last year. We’re providing the same sort of relief to help small businesses as well.
BARR: Sussan, the government says the coal stations are old clunkers. They’re not making any money. We’ve got these high fossil fuel prices. What would you do?
LEY: Nat, Australians expect whoever’s running the show to get in there and fix this. I’m really worried about pensioners this winter having to choose between heating and eating. This is a total mess. There was a cafe owner on the news last night saying they’re going to have to raise the cost of a cup of coffee to $6. $6 for a coffee and we have these messages from the government about relief? I don’t see any real relief coming anytime soon. I don’t think anyone at home does either. There is huge stress on Australian households, up to 29 per cent increase on households and businesses on their power bills. And for some, it’s just simply unaffordable.
BARR: Jason she’s right, isn’t she? The prices are going up and it’s fine for everyone to talk up here in the ether and you guys in Canberra to talk, but right at home. And for small business owners, this is going to break people.
CLARE: Nat, it might be 7 o’clock in the morning, but people are awake, and they can see through the lies there. For pensioners, Sussan mentioned pensioners there, they’re amongst those 5 million households for whom that $500 will mean that their bills are lower this year than last year.
There is a war happening on the other side of the world that’s increasing power bills right across the world and countries are doing two things. One, they’re putting a cap on the price of coal and a cap on the price of gas, because that’s what’s triggering an increase in the price in electricity. The second thing they’re doing is providing cash support to help people pay their bills, like we are. Now, the Liberal Party have opposed that. They walked into the Parliament last year and voted against a cap on gas, against a cap on coal and against providing that $500 support for the pensioners that Sussan’s claiming she now cares about. If the Liberal Party were in power, these increases would be double what they are today.
LEY: Nat, I walked into the Parliament this week and I asked Anthony Albanese, can he name a single person, household business, whose power bill is on the way down? And as usual –
BARR: But as far as voting against that –
LEY: As usual-
BARR: Could you just answer what Jason said, though, as far as voting against that help? Why?
LEY: That measure has not directly linked to power prices coming down. This is the problem, Nat. The government is paying money, yes, some money in some forms of compensation to some lucky people, but what we’re saying is-
BARR: So why would you vote against it?
LEY: Well, what we are offering the government is how do we unlock supply?
CLARE: Not answering the question.
LEY: Because it’s not the measure that actually makes the difference or changes the game. The measure that changes the game –
BARR: Sussan, why would you vote against it? It’s going to help at least some people. Just getting an answer on that before we go.
LEY: Because it simply wasn’t the right measure, Nat.
CLARE: $500 is not the right measure?
LEY: The right measure is to unlock supply so that Australians can have sustainable access to cheaper power prices, and we don’t have this awful situation that we’re facing now. And this government does not answer one single question about this department.
CLARE: It’s not what you say, it’s how you vote.
LEY: They sit there, they laugh.
CLARE: It’s not what you say, it’s how you vote.
LEY: They jeer and they mock. And that’s not good enough for people at home who are struggling.
CLARE: And you voted against $500 for those pensioners you claim you care about.
LEY: I don’t appreciate you interrupting me, Jason. I don’t appreciate it, just like I don’t appreciate the attitude on the government benches when it comes to genuine questions about Australians who are hurting.
CLARE: What I don’t appreciate is you refusing to vote for giving $500 to those pensioners around Australia who need it.
BARR: Okay, I think we’ve covered it. I think you’ve both had your say. We’ll see you next week. Thanks for your time.