Labor refuses to rule out gas export cap

Chris Bowen says big business was consulted over the revamped emissions safeguard scheme.

Chris Bowen says big business was consulted over the revamped emissions safeguard scheme. Photo: AAP

Labor won’t rule out forcing gas companies to deliver more of the key fuel to the Australian market as bills spike for local consumers.

The nation’s energy ministers will meet on Friday at a precarious time for the energy market as a sharp predicted increase in gas prices feeds through to producer and consumer price inflation.

Former competition watchdog boss Rod Sims has suggested the government threaten gas providers with export limits to try to lower Australian prices.

Energy Minister Chris Bowen didn’t rule out such as drastic move when asked about it on Friday morning.

“I don’t think there’s any one single policy lever you could just very easily pull … obviously we have been talking to the gas companies about their obligations,” he told ABC Radio.

“We are very clear there is more to do in relation to the gas market.”

Mr Bowen pointed out a heads of agreement had already been signed with three major gas exporters to avoid a shortfall next year.

He said the government wouldn’t leave consumers and businesses behind if prices escalated quickly.

“We will consider carefully and methodically and in consultation with my state and territory colleagues … careful interventions to ensure the energy market is working as best as it can for Australian consumers,” Mr Bowen said.

“Our federal government isn’t going to sit by and watch that just simply flow through to households.”

In his budget reply speech on Thursday night, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said Australia needed to have an “intelligent conversation” on the role nuclear power could play in providing affordable and reliable emissions-free energy.

“If you don’t like coal, you don’t like gas, hydro is probably a decade away, you’ve got limited options … all I’ve said is we should have a discussion about the zero-emission modular nuclear reactors,” he told the ABC on Friday.

“All of us are in favour of renewable energy, of course. The fact is we need to firm the system up at night time.”


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