The fact that Australia is now increasing its gas production should be a benefit for Victorian gas customers and Victorian manufacturers, not a hardship. But because most of our gas is now to be exported, rather than being sold locally, gas prices for eastern states manufacturers are now rising to international gas prices – from $4 to $5 a gigajoule to $10 a gigajoule.
In New South Wales AGL and Origin Energy have asked the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal to let them increase retail gas prices by 20%. This kind of increase would pose massive hardship for pensioners and others on fixed incomes, and it should not be allowed.
And the Federal Government has a role too. Every other large gas producing country puts measures in place to ensure domestic consumers benefit from rather than suffer from, their natural wealth. The US, home of the free market, barely lets gas producers export at all!
Consumers are already struggling under the weight of electricity bills which have more than doubled in 10 years. Gas bills should not be allowed to do the same.