Last week, my colleague John Tucker and I have called for the State Government to take urgent action to reduce power bills in the wake of a damning retail market report from the Australian Energy Regulator (AER).

The State Government has no choice but to act after the AER report revealed that the Rockliff Government’s policies were driving Tasmanians into debt during a cost-of-living crisis.

The report revealed that the number of Tasmanians with a power bill debt had more than doubled in the past three years with 14,400 Tasmanian households unable to pay their power bills.

6% of Aurora residential customers were in debt as of June 30, this year, compared to the national average of just 2.9%.

The Premier is always very keen to compare Tasmanian power prices to mainland prices, but what he needs to do is acknowledge that Tasmanians are hurting at twice the rate of mainland consumers, thanks to his government’s policies.

What this report says is that 14,400 Tasmanians cannot pay their power bills, and at an average debt of more than $1000 per customer, the total owed is more than $15 million.

The latest figures continued a clear trend established after the Liberal Party abandoned the Tasmanian first energy policy it took to the 2018 election.

The number of residential customers in debt was 3.1% in 2020, 3.6% in 2021, 4.7% in 2022 and now it is 6%.

The Government has no excuse; it cannot say that these figures come as a surprise.

In May TASCOSS warned that there had been a 22% increase in the number of households in energy debt in the previous 12 months, and that 47, 000 Tasmanians were living in energy poverty.

That warning did not register with the Government, which proceeded to increase power bills by more than 9.5% before taking a $100 million tax grab from the proceeds.

How much longer do Tasmanians have to wait before the Government acts?

Fruit Growers Tasmania have pointed out that raising energy prices to ensure a bigger profit for Hydro is simply backdoor taxation and it must stop while Tasmanians are battling a severe cost of living crisis.

It is obvious that the decision to shelve the Hodgman Government policy of pegging power prices to the Consumer Price Index was motivated purely by an inability to manage the budget or rein in spending.

Power prices have increased by almost 22% in the last two years, far above the rate of inflation.

The only reason prices have increased is because the Government has been ripping off massive profits from its energy businesses to try and plug its budget black hole.

Tuesday 5th December, 2023.

Tags: News