At an address to the National Press Club, Kevin Rudd has put electricity prices at the top of a seven-part national competitiveness agenda.

In an attempt at redressing the carbon tax damage, Rudd has flagged electricity and gas prices as “too high” and has vowed to put these at the top of the priority list as a key part of his re-election bid. Amongst possible measures would be tightening regulation to stop state governments using power companies as “cash cows”, and changes to the carbon tax such as a shift to the emissions trading scheme, which could see electricity bills drop. Any revisions to the carbon tax may dampen the effects of future rises.

Whilst recognising the carbon tax as part of electricity price rises, Rudd siad that the carbon price impact was “quite small” and that the biggest impacts would come via regulation.

“Before you all start reaching for your revolver on the carbon price, let’s be rational about this: the carbon price at present contributes less than 10 per cent to national electricity prices,” he said.

Cameron O’Reilly of the Energy Retailers Association of Australia said there’s “no turning back the clock” on prices.

“It’s undeniable we’ve had a period of electricity price shocks and Kevin Rudd is probably right there were some regulatory weaknesses … but there’s also federal and state environmental policies that have flowed through and the cost of those has now become apparent,” he said.

Business Spectator also reported on the matter, citing the much higher growth in distribution costs and minimal carbon price impact as contributing to electricity price rises.