Dutton Pushes Albanese On Electricity Prices: WTF?

Dutton and Albanese - electricity prices in Australia

Opposition leader Peter Dutton challenging PM Albanese on electricity prices yesterday was astounding given the Coalition should still be sitting very quietly in the naughty corner on this issue.

During Question Time, Peter Dutton asked Prime Minister Albanese to tell Australian families whether power prices will be higher or lower when they get their next electricity bill.

Mr. Dutton already knows the answer to that as do many Australians – power prices have gone up, and are likely to continue to for some time. A bright spot for owners of solar power systems is aside from the buffer their solar panels will provide, feed-in tariff rates will be increasing for some.

While the writing has been on the wall for a while regarding wholesale electricity prices and the impact that would have on power bills, many Australians found out about the impact weeks later than they usually would. And it would seem that was thanks to the Morrison Government being desperate to hold on to power.

Electricity prices have been a hot-button election topic for many years. In the lead-up to the Federal election in May, Australian voters were missing out on some very important related information.

Default Market Offer Details Delayed Pre-Election

Usually the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) releases changes to Default Market Offer (DMO) details for South Australia, New South Wales and south-east Queensland on May 1 each year. The DMO sets the scene for all electricity market offers, and what happens in those regions can be indicative of what may happen outside them.

But the publishing of those details was delayed this year, and the timing was at best suspicious.

According to Prime Minister Albanese, a minister he didn’t name went to the Governor General to get him to sign off on a determination to delay the publication of the default market offer for energy prices, which the GG signed on March 31. According to who was Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction in the Morrison Government – Angus Taylor –  he has previously indicated nothing suss was going on. Apparently, the request was made to give the AER more time to crunch numbers.

On April 7, the determination came into effect and then the election was called on April 10.

The election was held on May 21 and the AER’s determination – which indicated residential default market offer prices would increase between 8.5% and 18.3% in NSW, 11.3% to 12.6% in south-east QLD and 7.2% to 9.5% in SA, was published on May 26.

“..  those opposite … couldn’t even be straight with the Australian people about the higher power prices that they locked in,” said Prime Minister Albanese yesterday.

It was a *very* whiffy state of affairs and Labor is entitled to call, and continue to call, the Coalition out on it – because it’s something Australians should remember come the next election.

But PM Albanese and Energy Minister Chris Bowen won’t be able to get mileage from pointing the finger forever. A few high quarterly electricity bills and Australian households and business won’t care who did what, when – just what is being done about it. For struggling Australians, that moment has likely already arrived.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. George Kaplan says

    The more Dutton savages Labor over their mismanagement of power and cost of living issues – and to be fair it’s partially a state Labor problem in many states, the more voters will go into the next election eager to change government. Naturally Labor will attack the Coalition and argue it’s all legacy issues and NOT THEIR FAULT. Cry bullying on works for so long though.

    It’s going to be a long 3 years. :-\

  2. Geoff Miell says

    Michael Bloch,
    It was a *very* whiffy state of affairs and Labor is entitled to call, and continue to call, the Coalition out on it – because it’s something Australians should remember come the next election.

    IMO, Prime Minister Albanese needs to stop playing politics and act effectively. He needs to introduce an Australian domestic gas reservation policy ASAP, that the previous federal government failed to do.

    Broadcast yesterday (Aug 1) on Radio 2GB was a discussion between host Ben Fordham and gas analyst Bruce Robertson (from IEEFA) on the avoidable energy supply crisis (that IMO was years in the making by the former federal Coalition Government). Recommended listening.

    Bruce Robertson said from time interval 0:06:50:

    It’s up to Anthony Albanese, and what we need to see is a similar policy to WA, where basically, before any exports occur, the domestic market has to be supplied. Would this lead to defaults on export contracts? No; because there is plenty of gas in eastern Australia. We are swimming in gas, particularly in Queensland, Victoria – we have way more than we need to supply the domestic market, and the gas companies would ensure that enough gets produced to supply the export market.
    https://www.2gb.com/how-the-federal-government-could-bring-down-your-power-bill/

    Eastern Australia is “swimming in gas” for now, but data indicates that at current production rates it won’t last for long – eastern Australia gas basin total 2P Reserves-to-Production is only 17.9 years (as at Feb 2021) – see Table 4.1: Gas basins serving eastern Australia at: https://www.aer.gov.au/system/files/State%20of%20the%20energy%20market%202021%20-%20Chapter%204%20-%20Gas%20markets%20in%20eastern%20Australia.pdf

    Victoria’s fossil gas production has already peaked, and the 2P Reserves-to-Production is only around a decade.
    https://twitter.com/crudeoilpeak/status/1553934372939923457

    IMO, it’s time to ditch gas and break the gas cartel’s hold for good!
    Will Albanese show the courage required, or cower to the gas cartel?

    • IMO it is time to break the Cartels hold, but not ditch the gas just yet.
      The world honestly needs the gas at the moment, Europe will possibly run out of gas during the coming winter causing deaths.
      But it is Australia’s Gas and we should get our share first.
      Big deal if we have passed peak gas, i would hope given another 10 years we will need a lot less of it, but i would good to keep out domestic manufacturing capacity running until then.

      From a politicians point of view, they are getting lots and lots of “donations” that might stop happening if the politicians go to war with them. The “donations” probably contributed to helping the government get into power, and could be redirected to the opposition to help them instead. Hence all the tip toeing around pulling that trigger they keep talking about.

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