The Australian Government has taken action to improve energy affordability through temporary caps and ceilings on domestic gas and coal prices respectively, as well as $1.5 billion in targeted bill relief for businesses and households most in need.
The Energy Price Relief bill passed the upper house of Parliament with 28 votes for and 22 against late this afternoon, having earlier passed through the lower house 85-41.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the bill was aimed at supporting industry, business, manufacturing, jobs and families, describing the legislation as "important" and "urgent".
"Last Friday, at National Cabinet, every Premier and Chief Minister signed up to the four key measures in this plan, including the New South Wales Premier, Dominic Perrottet, and Premier Rockliff of Tasmania," the PM said.
The first of the four key measures is a temporary cap on the price of uncontracted gas at $12 a gigajoule (GJ) for 12 months. To put this figure in perspective, according to statistics from the Australian Energy Regulator, the price per GJ in the financial year to date has been $27.06 and $24.04 for Sydney and Victoria respectively.
The $12/GJ level is below the averages experienced in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Victoria in 2021-22, but still just shy of double the levels recorded in the financial year prior.
The bill also contemplated a 12-month price ceiling on domestic coal of $125 per tonne in New South Wales and Queensland, which the PM said the NSW Premier had agree to legislate next week with a recall of the state parliament.
The $1.5 billion in energy bill relief will be implemented through measures to reduce bills in order to put downward pressure on inflation, while the fourth tenet of the bill is long-term action to secure Australia's energy future, including the new Capacity Investment Scheme and the continued roll-out of projects under the Rewiring the Nation fund.
"This plan is a combination of immediate action – but also future reform. It recognises the challenge of the here and now, as a result of Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine," Prime Minister Albanese said.
"We need to act now, though, to deal with this crisis, to keep Australians in work, to support families, but also to look to the medium-term to make sure we do secure our energy future.
"Making sure we get the cheapest and cleanest form of energy – renewable energy – to be able to power into the grid through the projects that we announced and will continue to announce around Rewiring the Nation."
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