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The Hon Richard Marles MP
Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Defence
18 January 2023
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Well, have you opened your power bill lately? Or too scared? I don't blame you. To give you an idea on how much they've gone up, it's 30 per cent, roughly, in Queensland; 20 per cent in New South Wales; 13 per cent in Victoria. Huge jump. So now we are bracing for another 20 per cent increase next month, as early as. The Deputy Prime Minister, Richard Marles, joins us now. Good morning to you Richard, nice to see you this morning. A little dose of reality from Queensland there, little dose of reality in our bills, too. Whatever you're putting down doesn't seem to be working just yet.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER RICHARD MARLES: Firstly, happy New Year, Karl, great to see you back. Look, give it time is the answer to that question. I mean, the price cap that we've put in place has been in place literally for a couple of weeks. But we certainly understand the pressure that increasing energy prices is placing on the budgets of Australian households and Australian businesses, which is why we took the action that we did last year. And we expect that it will place a downward pressure on energy prices. But it's only been in place the price cap for a couple of weeks. We've got to let this play out.
STEFANOVIC: Can you give people at home, because I'm sure people are getting back from their Christmas holidays back into work and their bills are starting to arrive and their bills are starting to stack up. When might you see, I mean you've got better intelligence than the rest of us, a quantifiable reduction in those bills?
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, the one thing we can say is that in this Government, you'll have a Government which is always going to be fighting for your budget and is going to be fighting for the budgets of businesses around the country, and we will do what we can. And you and I were having conversations at the end of last year about would we take action, we've taken action. We expect this is going to have an impact is really all I can say, obviously. But putting in place a price cap was a very big step to take. We've got the ACCC on the case, and it will play its part in making sure that the price cap ends up being passed through. But we face challenges, and the challenges are ultimately around what the war in Ukraine has done to energy markets around the world and that's flowing through to Australia. That's why we took the steps that we did.
STEFANOVIC: I think this is a good thing, levelling with the Australian public and it's a good start to the year because at the end of the day, what you're saying to me this morning is you don't know if what you've enacted is going to work?
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: We expect it will work, so let me be clear about that. And what we can absolutely say to the Australian people is we will spend each and every day fighting for your budget. And that's what we've been doing. And we took a very, very big step at the end of last year because of the extraordinary situation that we'd seen around the world, and we didn't think that it was fair that Australian households and businesses bear the burden of the war in Ukraine in terms of its impact on international energy markets. Now, we do expect this will have an impact. It's only been in place for a couple of weeks so far, so we've got to give it time to take effect.
STEFANOVIC: Okay. Our troops are being deployed today to train Ukrainian soldiers. This is an important thing. Are you worried that there might be some level of blowback from Russia?
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, no. I mean, Russia know where we stand. We couldn't have been clearer about that. And it's really important that we do stand against the Russian aggression that we saw last year. I think, again, the important point to make here is what we've really seen through the course of last year this conflict evolving into one which will be protracted, and therefore we need to be ready and willing, which we are, to stand with Ukraine over the long term. And this is an important step in doing that. I think people need to also understand that those who are fighting in Ukraine now, it's a reservist force. They're citizen soldiers. They're people who are giving up their everyday jobs in order to fight for their country. The heart is very much there. But this training is going to be so important for them to equip them for the battlefield, it will help keep them safe, it will help Ukraine stay in the fight so they can resolve this conflict on their own terms. And that's really important.
STEFANOVIC: Very big year, 2023. Nice to have you back on the show. Appreciate it. See you soon.