While Malcolm Turnbull has been busy calling Australian energy retailers to account for lumbering Australian consumers with eye-watering electricity bills, a new poll shows that almost one-quarter of people surveyed believe the PM himself is to blame for the nation’s power price woes.
The Essential Poll, the results of which were published on Tuesday, shows that while almost half of respondents (49 per cent) blamed the profit seeking behaviour of private power companies for soaring electricity prices, a noteworthy 22 per cent believed that the Turnbull government was mostly to blame.
That’s reassuring, because it is becoming increasingly evident that it is the bidding of generator companies in wholesale markets that is pushing up wholesale prices, as the latest regulator analysis shows quite clearly.
What is more, less than half of that number – 9 per cent – put the blame on the push for action on climate change; while just 5 per cent blamed renewable energy costs – the Coalition’s traditional scapegoat for rising power costs.
The result should serve as an eye-opener for the Turnbull government, which faces increasing pressure to fix the broken energy market before the coming Australian summer.
At the same time, pressure is also mounting from within party ranks, to slow the shift to renewable energy and supporting technologies like large-scale battery storage, in favour of more coal and gas-fired “baseload” energy.
As summarised by Queensland MP George Christensen earlier this week, it is the firm belief of the Coaltion’s right wing – led by former PM Tony Abbott – that the introduction of a clean energy target would push up prices and hurt jobs, and must be avoided at all costs.
“As a government — on a whole range of fronts — we’re running out of arrows to fire, and energy is a golden arrow, if you like,” Christensen said. “If we throw that away, we’re throwing away our electoral chances.”
The problem for Turnbull remains, in which direction to point that “golden arrow.”