Energy ministers meet amid gas crisis

Australia’s energy ministers have been urged to find solutions to the nation’s soaring prices and to calm the “chaos”.

Chris Bowen, who has taken on the energy portfolio in the new Albanese government, will convene a videolink roundtable with his state and territory counterparts on Wednesday as east coast gas prices surge.

A broad coalition of peak bodies, including those representing the nation’s farmers and energy sectors as well as social advocacy groups, want low-income households to receive priority financial support as they call for a balanced response.


“Without urgent action, this winter will be a difficult one for energy users and the next few years may not be much easier,” the joint statement reads.

Accelerating Australia’s transition to clean energy in a fair way will deliver relief but ultimately won’t be fast enough to deal with the current crisis, they say.

The group warns high international prices for coal and gas will remain for years and says working together will offer the best chance of driving them down.

“No one player holds all the powers, resources and information to resolve this crisis,” the statement reads.

State and territory energy ministers have expressed optimism ahead of the meeting as they work to addressed strained gas supplies at a time when inflationary pressures are making it harder for households to make ends meet.

Queensland Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said consultations with the state’s energy industry ahead of the meeting would drive his engagement with his counterparts.

“I will be taking to this meeting is direct input from the Queensland energy industry, the conservation sector and energy consumers small and large who will meet with me on Wednesday morning to provide me guidance on how to deliver the best outcome for Queensland,” he told AAP.

ACT Energy Minister Shane Rattenbury said it was a chance to “make up for lost time” after years of neglect by the federal government.

“(I) look forward to working with them on accelerating the uptake of electric vehicles in Australia, delivering more storage in to the national grid and amending the National Electricity Objective to include the need for emissions reduction,” he told AAP.

The ACT is set to become the only Australian jurisdiction to experience a small decrease in electricity prices off the back of large-scale renewable energy projects coming online, its economic regulator says.

The government-owned energy provider ActewAGL is set to oversee an average electricity cost reduction of 1.25 per cent from July 1, the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission announced on Monday.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers is awaiting advice from the competition watchdog on the role and impact of coal-fired power plant shutdowns on energy prices and what regulations could be used.

But he said a key reason for the talks with state and territory ministers was “a lot of the powers (over the energy sector) exist at the state level”.

He admitted a range of factors from the Ukraine war to east coast floods had led to a “perfect storm” impacting the energy sector.

© AAP 2022