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Trainwreck moment Treasurer insists Australians WILL get a $275 discount on their power bills – before he frantically backtracks and blames his big EARS for Budget gaffe as electricity bills soar by 56%

  • Labor is under relentless attack over its election claim of cheaper power bills
  • Ukraine invasion will instead force up prices 56 per cent over next two years
  • Treasurer Jim Chalmers wrongly said the Budget instead stated a $275 fall
  • He fessed up to mishearing a question after his Press Club speech 

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has made a joke about his huge ears to deflect a live TV gaffe about rising power prices in the Budget.

During the election campaign, Labor said 97 times that it would reduce household power bills by $275 by switching to ‘cheaper’ greener energy.

However, power prices have skyrocketed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine weeks before the May 21 poll. 

Dr Chalmers’ Budget predicted prices would rise 56 per cent over the next two years – 30 per cent this financial year and 30 per cent in 2023-24.

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But the treasurer was blunt when asked about the $275 promise during a live appearance in front of the National Press Club on Wednesday.

Nine Network political editor Charles Croucher asked: ‘There’s probably a one word answer to this question… should Australians still expect that $275 off their power bills, particularly off pre-election prices?’

Dr Chalmers replied: ‘Yep. It’s in the Budget’. 

The opposition relentlessly has hammered the point since Parliament resumed, and continued during Question Time on Wednesday.

Energy spokesman Angus Taylor asked: ‘A short time ago, the Treasurer was asked whether Australians can expect $275 of their power bills, he said, “yep, it’s in the Budget”. 

‘What page refers to a reduction of $275?’ 

Dr Chalmers was forced to admit he ‘misheard the question’ following his speech to the National Press Club just an hour earlier.

The treasurer looked to the House of Representatives press gallery to address the journalist who asked him the question and apologise for his stuff-up.

‘I thought you were asking me a different question, I misheard it and I answered a different question,’ he said.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers was asked if the $275 power bill saving Labor promised during the election would still be possible, and replied 'yep, it's in the Budget', when the opposite was true

Treasurer Jim Chalmers was asked if the $275 power bill saving Labor promised during the election would still be possible, and replied ‘yep, it’s in the Budget’, when the opposite was true

Dr Chalmers repeated his claim of mishearing the question when pressed again by the opposition, using a joke about his ears to fend off the criticism.

‘Mr Speaker, I do confess that when you have ears as big as mine and you say that you misheard something, I know that people might doubt that – but it’s the truth,’ he said. 

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‘Now, that I have fessed up, to mishearing a question at the National Press Club, it’s time for you to fess up in your role in energy policy chaos.’

The treasurer was referring to the Morrison Government, and Mr Taylor in particular, not revealing forecasts back in March that power prices would rise.

In his explanation of his gaffe, Dr Chalmers laid into Mr Taylor for his role in the not revealing the prediction.

Mr Chalmers was pulled up on it during Question Time an hour later and fessed up to mishearing the question and answering something else

Mr Chalmers was pulled up on it during Question Time an hour later and fessed up to mishearing the question and answering something else

‘This is the guy that gave us the wasted decade of missed opportunities with electricity market chaos and now that we’ve got this war in Ukraine,’ he said.

‘Our energy markets are more vulnerable than they should be because of the rank and competence of the shadow treasurer.’

In his second attempt at explaining his gaffe, Dr Chalmers insisted power bills would in the longer term be cheaper by switching to green energy.

‘Second of all, there’s a war in Europe which is causing havoc in energy markets and pushing up electricity prices and, thirdly, the energy policy chaos brought to us by the dregs of the former government over there have made things harder rather than easier for us to deal with it,’ he continued.

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