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Energy-relief plan coming by Christmas

Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Australian people
The Government will have a plan to tackle rising energy prices by Christmas, Treasurer Jim Chalmers has confirmed. (Source: AAP/Getty)

The Government intends to have a plan for energy relief by Christmas, Treasurer Jim Chalmers has said, as Aussies face skyrocketing bills.

Chalmers was questioned about the lack of cost-of-living support in the Budget on ABC’s Q&A last night.

The Treasurer said the Government would move as quickly as it could on energy prices, but said there were a lot of issues at play.

“What we’re dealing with here is we’ve got to balance the fact that a lot of these companies have international contracts, there’s a lot of market sensitivity,” Chalmers said.

“We are working on it around the clock and we will move on it as soon as we responsibly can, but there are a lot of complexities we need to weigh up.”

The Budget forecast a 50 per cent increase to energy bills over the next two years, with a 20 per cent hike estimated in late 2022 and a further 30 per cent increase in 2023/24.

Prices will get worse

One audience member said he had just received a $1,600 energy bill for his family of three living in a unit and asked if energy prices would continue to rise.

Chalmers said it would get worse, with the main driver being the war in Ukraine.

He said the Government was weighing up three options to tackle rising energy prices.

"There are three paths: The first is something in the tax area. The second path is around subsidies … whether that be to people or to companies. And, thirdly, whether there's some kind of change in regulation that can bring the price down.”

The Government's current preference is changes to regulations, Chalmers said, including considering price caps.

Chalmers said a cash handout was “unlikely” but the Government was not ruling it out in case the situation continued to deteriorate over time.

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