All Options Considered to Cut Energy Price Impact, Australian Treasurer Says
(Bloomberg) — The Australian government is considering measures to control the impact of energy costs that would have been unlikely a year or two ago, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said Sunday, with the country’s gas and electricity prices forecast to soar in the coming months.
Speaking on ABC Television’s Insiders program, Chalmers said the government is looking to move to a mandatory code of conduct for the gas industry, and is examining both supply and pricing.
“Supply is a big part of the story here but so is price,” the treasurer said.
He didn’t rule out price caps or direct support for households, but pointed out that potential measures also included tax and regulation.
“We are contemplating the kinds of steps that perhaps governments wouldn’t have contemplated a year or two ago,” Chalmers said. “We don’t really want to limit our options.”
Chalmers delivered his first budget Tuesday, which forecast a 20% rise in retail energy prices in late 2022 and a further 30% rise in 2023-24. While the treasurer faced some criticism for not doing enough to help Australians cope with rising prices, he said he had done all he could for households without risking worsening inflation.
On Sunday, he said the government was working to “take some of the sting” out of rising prices but would not give a prediction for when they might start to fall, adding that Russia’s war in Ukraine had had an unexpectedly extreme impact on the power market.
Energy Minister Chris Bowen echoed his sentiment on Sky News Australia on Sunday, saying that the war was putting “unprecedented pressure on energy prices.”
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