Greens call for power-price inquiry
as PM lashes states over increases
THE Australian Greens will seek Labor and Coalition backing for a Senate inquiry into ways to cut electricity bills.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will use a speech in Sydney today (Tuesday) to accuse states like New South Wales of gouging consumers with huge electricity increases in recent years.
Greens leader, Christine Milne, says energy market rules should be changed.
“The profits made by electricity distributors must urgently be de-coupled from the sale of electricity, as has been achieved in many parts of the world,” Senator Milne says in a statement.
“It is the multi-billion dollar gold-plating of the old, coal-based energy grid that is happening right now that is driving energy bills ever higher, and we need swift action to turn that around.”
With parliament resuming after the winter break next week, Senator Milne says if the major parties were genuine they would support a Senate inquiry and take action on energy market rules.
Meanwhile, NSW Energy Minister, Chris Hartcher, says the Prime Minister is being a hypocrite by raising the issue of electricity prices.
“The Prime Minister is concerned about rising electricity prices,” Mr Hartcher has told journalists in Sydney today.
“The Prime Minister can help everybody in NSW by scrapping the carbon tax.
“It’s an extraordinary act of hypocrisy for the prime minister . . . to talk about electricity prices when the major single new key driver of electricity prices is her own carbon tax.”
Mr Hartcher says Ms Gillard’s speech is a smokescreen designed to shift attention away from her controversial tax, which began on July 1.
Ms Gillard will describe the electricity prices rises of the past four year as socially and economically unjust.
“Price have gone up – far and fast,” she will tell the Energy Policy Institute of Australia.
“The last four years’ price increases cannot continue.”