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Treasurer warns power companies over bills

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August 10, 2017

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says electricity companies are working to ensure cheaper prices.

Power companies have promised to work with the Turnbull government to ensure customers get help in finding cheaper deals.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday met with electricity retailers in Canberra to discuss how to ease pressure on power bills.

Australian Energy Council chief Matthew Warren said retailers would write to all customers explaining the deals they are on and providing help to find more competitive offers.

But he says a bigger problem is the uncertainty over national climate and energy policy which is deterring investment in new baseload power.

The shortage of supply is the key factor in recent hikes in energy costs, he says.

Labor frontbencher Mark Butler said the government needed to accept his party's offer of bipartisan support for a new clean energy target, as recommended in a review by chief scientist Alan Finkel.

That way, power industry investors could get the long-term certainty they need.

It's been estimated households could save $1000 or more a year by switching companies or $400 just by getting a better deal from their existing supplier.

A new rule will require companies to tell households coming to the end of a discount plan how much more they'll pay if they do nothing to get a new deal.

Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm says GST should be removed from electricity bills in a bid to save households about $200 a year.

He queried why water was GST-free but electricity wasn't, even though both were essential services.

The ACTU says electricity sector deregulation has not worked and the government needs to step in to provide power price relief.

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