Prime Minister Scott Morrison is open to starting a royal commission into the energy sector, believing power companies are just as bad as the banks.
The idea of a royal commission into the energy sector was floated by his Liberal leadership rival Peter Dutton two weeks ago.
“I’m open to it though, and I’ll look at it,” Mr Morrison told 3AW radio on Monday.
He said he had made a mistake opposing the banking royal commission.
“Where I failed was to properly understand the real pain people had been feeling about being treated so badly,” he said.
“What I didn’t do – and this is where I do regret – is that Australians needed to work through the deep hurt they’ve had on this.”
Mr Morrison said he was taking a “big stick” approach to bringing power prices down, and was putting the energy giants on notice.
“If I feel they’re not responsive, well, I’m prepared to take what action is necessary,” he told 3AW radio.
Mr Dutton also wanted to investigate petrol prices, but the prime minister is not open to examining the petrol sector, arguing he has already given the competition watchdog powers far greater than a royal commission.
Mr Morrison said that as treasurer, he knew there were real issues around accountability, competition and behaviour of boards in the financial services sector.
He said he was taking action to address each of these issues.
But Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese says the government should look at its own responsibilities for skyrocketing power prices.
“Yes, energy companies are part of the problem, but government inaction is very much a major part of why we have higher prices today,” he told Sky News.
“We think that a policy on energy is a good idea. We think that driving down emissions will also drive down costs of energy.
“Were it not for Labor’s renewable energy target, we would have higher prices now.”