Treasurer taking gas price cap ‘seriously’

Jim Chalmers says the government is considering its options surrounding gas prices.

Jim Chalmers says the government is considering its options surrounding gas prices. Photo: AAP

Growing calls for a price cap on gas are being taken seriously by the federal treasurer ahead of a predicted rise in energy prices.

With gas prices expected to increase by 40 per cent over the next two years, and retail electricity prices by 56 per cent, Jim Chalmers says all options are on the table to reduce power bills.

“We are contemplating the kinds of steps that governments wouldn’t have contemplated a year or two ago,” he said.

“We don’t really want to limit our options or narrow our options.

“There’s a lot of working going on behind the scenes, a lot of consultation and collaboration, and if there’s something sensible and responsible and meaningful we can do here, obviously, we will consider that.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said urgent action was needed on energy prices.

“Australian families just can’t stand for that indecision because they’re the ones that are going to be paying the bill,” he said.

“Let’s see what the government is proposing, because at the moment, it just sounds to me like a lot of this is made up on the run.

“If they had a plan to cut gas prices, why wasn’t that announced in last Tuesday’s budget?”

NSW Liberal Treasurer Matt Kean voiced his support for any policy that would put downward pressure on prices but said he wasn’t convinced a gas price cap was the best solution.

Before the election, Labor committed to lowering average household power bills by $275 a year by 2025.

However, this is unlikely to be achieved due to volatility in energy markets caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Independent senator Jacqui Lambie backed the idea of a national gas reservation, which is already in place at a state level in Western Australia.

“We’ve seen what happens in Western Australia, where their prices are going up very little compared to the rest of Australia because of the gas reserve policy that they have out there,” she said.

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