$500 energy bill relief for half a million Aussies with Albanese government's rebate
Nearly 500,000 Australians will be eligible for a rebate worth hundreds of dollars in a bid to offset a major price hike expected on July 1. All Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders will receive up to $500 per household in energy bill relief from the federal government. From July 1, electricity prices will increase between 20 and 25 per cent for those in , southeast and . The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) released its final determination on Thursday, with the revised hike higher than the March draft of 20 to 22 per cent rise. AER chair Clare Savage said it had been a 'difficult decision' but high wholesale energy costs continued to drive up retail prices. 'No one wants to see rising prices, and we recognise this is a difficult time. That's why it's important for consumers to shop around for a better deal,' she said. Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said the scheme would 'help older Australians keep more money in their pockets'. Following the AER's announcement on Thursday, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had 'lied' to Australians about energy prices. 'Let's be very clear about it, he promised on 97 occasions your bill would go down by $275,' he told Today show host Karl Stefanovic. 'I think the government's completely underestimating how much families and small businesses are hurting at the moment.' Mr Dutton also referred to suggestions that rising energy prices were caused in part by Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a 'nonsense argument'. Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles pushed back on the opposition's comments, accusing Mr Dutton of 'making stuff up' and saying the Liberal Party had voted against the $500 relief plan. 'When that war started, no one was imagining that it would still be going today in the way that it is,' Mr Marles said. 'That has disrupted energy prices and that's what we've had to deal with.' Income limits for the Seniors Health Card were increased to $90,000 for singles and $144,000 for couples on November 4, 2022 - the biggest increase in more than 20 years. 'It's great that in six months of the new income threshold limits being in place so many older Australians have received access to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card,' Ms Rishworth said. 'Our hope is this take-up trajectory continues and more older Australians continue to take advantage of these increased income limits in the years to come.' Initial projections of increased income limits projected an additional 52,000 Australians would benefit from the scheme by 2026-27. Since November an additional 16,230 Australians who were not previously eligible have been granted access to the card. The AER said that had the government not intervened in the energy market, energy prices would have climbed 35 to 50 per cent.