The Coalition can continue blaming the carbon tax for the spiralling cost of electricity in Australia but Prime Minister Julia Gillard is bent on employing federal weight to prod state authorities into definite actions that would bring down households' energy burden.
If state and territory governments will not be moved, Ms Gillard said she would take the initiative of significantly cutting back what she described as electricity price that jumped by around 50 per cent over the past four years.
The prime minister reiterated that solutions on the part of state governments should be forthcoming by December 2012 but without them, federal authorities will unleash regulatory interventions that could compel premiers to act on the matter.
"We won't lightly use the big stick of regulation, of stronger powers for the Energy Regulator and the ACCC," Ms Gillard warned in an interview with ABC on Thursday.
"But it's a stick we hold and which we'll use if required," she added.
Canberra is speficifically critical of "demonstrable inefficiencies in resource allocation in the market," which it blamed for the unreasonable upward movements of electricity prices since 2008, barely a year after Labor came into power.
Ms Gillard's posturing on the matter, however, was scored by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who characterised her efforts and take on the issue as 'furphy' despite supporting assessments from the Australian Energy Regulator.
"The price increases up to 1 July this year were substantially attributable to increasing costs of the network," the energy watchdog chief, Andrew Reeves, said in a statement.
Mr Abbott insisted that he just could not buy into the arguments being peddled by the Gillard Government, which alleged of deliberate "gold plating of power infrastructure," projects rolled out by state governments in the past few years.
Such investments, he added, were necessary because "it's very important that we have security of energy supply and I don't think any rational power supplier would be overdoing it."
"They would be putting in as much investment as is needed to ensure that they properly do their job," the Liberal leader told ABC today.
Besides, Mr Abbott wondered, "Why should we believe the Prime Minister now about so-called gold plating of power infrastructure when she's never talked about it for the last five years?"
Yet media reports have earlier pointed to Ian MacFarlane, opposition spokesman for energy, allowing that price gouging may have been committed by state authorities.
Nonetheless, Mr Abbott resumed his familiar tack by reminding anew the government of what he believes is the root of the problem.
"The problem is not the regulation of power prices. The problem is the carbon tax putting up power prices," the opposition leader said.
The Coalition's contrasting take on the problem, according to Greens leader Christine Milne, only revealed the truth about Mr Abbott.
Either he was clueless on the important components of the issue or he simply ignored the facts presented by country's power regulators, Senator Milne said.
"(Mr Abbott) doesn't care ... He doesn't want to be across the detail. All he wants to do is try to get into power by scaring the community," ABC reported the Greens senator as saying.
Clearly, Ms Milne suggested, the opposition leader was suffering from some form credibility problem.
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