Employers call for consensus over 'soaring' energy prices

'Businesses are hurting. Energy costs must come down'

Employers call for consensus over 'soaring' energy prices

Various employers and businesses have recently expressed their concern over the increasing energy and power prices after a study has predicted its consistent climb.

Through the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), the groups called for a consensus for the country to strategise and plan out affordable and reliable power generation that balances domestic energy security and facilitates emissions reduction.”

According to ACCI, the Australian Energy Regulator default market offer predicts a continued increase in wholesale power prices in New South Wales and Queensland in the next two years and “with small businesses hit by price hikes of up to 13 percent above inflation.”

“Higher energy prices are hurting businesses and families alike,” ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar said. A consensus is seen as a solution to build on a national plan to bring  “affordable, reliable and sustainable” power generation.

“It is crucial,” he said, as businesses and households face a surge in their energy bills.

The ACCI has also attributed soaring international energy commodity prices to the surge in wholesale prices, pointing toward the challenges small businesses currently face and their growing concern over their profitability.

“Increasing energy costs impact all businesses.  In particular, energy intensive sectors, such as manufacturing, will be harshly affected by rising electricity and gas prices while petrol prices, which have jumped up again to over $2 a litre, are driving up freight and input costs,” McKellar said.

Impacts of inflation and economic pressures over labour and supply demands have also “compounded” the issues over energy costs, the ACCI highlighted.

“Surging energy prices will compound the existing inflationary pressures we’re seeing across the economy.  With material and labour shortages at their most acute in almost 50 years, the increased cost of doing business is beginning to bite,” McKellar said.

The ACCI found the plan to discuss the high power and energy costs as the perfect opportunity to reinforce talks on renewable sources and climate change.

“Pursuing action on climate change and energy security are not mutually exclusive.  The benefits of boosting renewable energy production could not be clearer,” McKellar said.

“The federal government has a strong mandate to implement its Powering Australia plan, stimulating greater investment in renewable capacity, modernising energy infrastructure and advancing the transition to a net-zero future.  This was a key commitment by the new federal government which must be implemented as soon as possible,” he added.

For employers, “energy costs must come down. That’s the bottom line for business,” McKellar explained.

“The business community has been very clear that we must achieve consensus on energy and emissions reduction policy.  The best way to promote the planning and innovation that will underlie an efficient energy transition is through legislated bipartisan support,” he said.

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