Government’s power strategy is driving Tasmanians deeper into debt.

Independent Members of Parliament, Lara Alexander and John Tucker, today called for urgent action to reduce power bills following shocking new evidence that Government policies are driving Tasmanians into debt during a cost-of-living crisis.

The latest retail market report from the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) shows that the number of Tasmanians with a power bill debt has more than doubled in the past three years and proportionally is twice as high as the rest of the country.

The Independent Member for Bass, Ms Alexander said “The AER report shows 6% of Aurora’s residential customers were in debt on June 30th this year compared to a national average of 2.9%.

“That means 14,400 Tasmanians cannot pay their power bills, and at an average energy debt of more than $1000 per customer, the total owed is more than $15 million.

“This continues a trend which has been evident since the Liberal Party abandoned its Tasmanian first energy policy which 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%.

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

Independent Member for Lyons, Mr Tucker said “The Hodgman policy in 2018 was to peg power prices to CPI.

“That was abandoned when the government lost control of the state budget and went on a mission to ramp up taxes across the board.

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

“We know why, because the Government has been ripping off massive profits from its energy businesses to try and plug its budget black hole.

“As Fruit Growers Tasmania has pointed out, that is simply backdoor taxation, and it must stop while Tasmanians are battling a severe cost of living crisis.”

Mrs Alexander said “The Government has been repeatedly warned about the impact of its power taxes on struggling families.

“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.

“This needs to stop and we need to peg power prices at the cost of production or CPI during this cost-of-living crisis.”

Friday 1st December, 2023.

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