Gas prices within Australia will likely remain steady, the head of the consumer watchdog believes, despite Eastern Europe being on the brink of war as Russian troops march on eastern Ukraine.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Rod Sims said government agreements to guarantee a secure and affordable gas supply to the country's east coast market meant it was unlikely to exceed far past $10 a gigajoule in questions following his National Press Club address on Wednesday.
The long-serving head of the regulator said the price of gas had risen to $35 a gigajoule in European and Asian markets but Australia had remained steady at $10 a gigajoule.
"They're making a lot of money, these [Australian] gas producers, at the moment ... they don't want anything to interfere with their ability to export so I think they'll tread very carefully," he said.
"I'd be very surprised if gas prices go up - much above $10 a gigajoule - no matter what happens internationally.
"I hope I'm right."
If prices were to rise domestically, Mr Sims said he would expect the federal government to step in and intervene to stop a "catastrophic" rise to prices seen overseas for consumers and business.
But for rising petrol prices, there was little to be done, he said.
"The real heart of the petro problem has always been the OPEC cartel," Mr Sims said.
"The tensions around Ukraine have just built on supply demand problems in the energy market worldwide.
"We came out of COVID, demand returned for oil and gas [and] supply just wasn't there. Ukraine just made that worse."
Mr Sim's comments come as the situation in eastern Ukraine has rapidly deteriorated after Russia sent troops into two Russian-backed separatist territories for "peacekeeping".
Russia's move to invade parts of eastern Ukraine has received condemnation from many world leaders.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would to "ratchet up" Australia's response to Russia's aggression after cabinet's national security committee met on Wednesday.
"The invasion of Ukraine has effectively already begun. They're acting like thugs and bullies and they should be called out as thugs and bullies," he said.
"Australians always stand up to bullies and we will be standing up to Russia."
Sanctions and travel bans will target eight members of the Russian Federation's security council, while existing sanctions in place over past aggression will be expanded.
Mr Morrison said a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine was likely to occur within 24 hours.
"This invasion is unjustified, it's unwarranted, it's unprovoked and it's unacceptable," he said.
It is believed up to 1400 Australians remain in Ukraine, with 184 registered for embassy support, which is currently being run out of Poland.
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