PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has thrown down the gauntlet to the states on electricity price increases as continuing pressure on the cost of living firms as a major debate in the lead-up to the next federal election.
Ms Gillard used a speech in Sydney yesterday to challenge the states to reform energy markets, saying household power price increases over the past four years can’t continue.
It’s a tactic the government will continue to use as the debate about the impact of the carbon tax continues to resonate across the nation.
Latest opinion polls show Labor has gained by five percentage points to 33 per cent over the past fortnight, giving the minority government its best result since February.
Given that families are yet to see discernible cost increases which many will blame on the carbon tax, the attack on the states should be seen for what it is – a warning shot designed to muddy the waters when electricity bills for the next quarter begin arriving at homes.
Ms Gillard’s argument that state costs associated with infrastructure requirements play a greater role in price increases is a much more complicated message than that which continues to come from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
Mr Abbott simply says he will dump the carbon tax if he wins the next election – due later next year.
Forgetting the political debate, there’s no doubt that families are facing more difficult times in many parts of Australia.
The Reserve Bank of Australia yesterday decided not to cut interest rates, sending a message of resilience about the national economy which has escaped many in the political environment in recent times.
But the decision might also serve to amplify the pressure on householders as cost of living increases hit home and it’s one that will continue right up to the next poll.