Aussies starving over power bills
AUSTRALIANS are having to choose between paying their medical bills and paying their electricity costs, according to the nation’s consumer watchdog.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has also identified cases of people rationing food to pay their power bills and rent.
That’s according to ACCC chairman Rod Sims, who has also warned of widespread job losses in manufacturing, along with small business closures, if Australia’s soaring electricity and gas prices aren’t reined in.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra , Mr Sims said industry players who blamed investment uncertainty were ignoring a “hell of a lot” of other factors.
More than 40% of power price hikes in the past decade were due to costs associated with network infrastructure, such as power poles, he said.
Other causes were higher retail costs, which contributed 24% to prices hikes, generation costs (19%) and green scheme costs (16%).
State government moratoriums on gas exportation had contributed to gas supply shortages and price hikes, he said.
But privatisation was not the cause.
“Those poles and wires that run down your street are the main reason you are paying too much for electricity,” Mr Sims said.
“It was state governments, when they owned these poles and wires, that deliberately loosened the rules which made it very hard for the AER to make sure that consumers are only paying efficient costs.
“The privatised ones in Victoria, the increases were much, much less.
“If you want to look at the evidence of privatisation and government ownership in network businesses, I am afraid the evidence is that the biggest cost increases have been with the Government-owned network businesses.”
Outlining the consequences of the power price rises on the east coast, Mr Sims warned jobs would be lost in regions where new jobs would be hard to find.
The futures of manufacturers or explosives, glass, paper, steel, fertilisers, chemicals and other areas that totally relied on gas were at stake, he said.
The ACCC is currently conducting two inquiries into Australia’s energy market; one into electricity and one into gas.
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