Morning Bulletin editor Frazer Pearce
Morning Bulletin editor Frazer Pearce

Voter backlash at power prices?

EVEN though electricity prices are jumping 6.6% for 2011-12 – more than twice the current inflation rate – I can’t help feeling relieved.

In an era of double-digit price hikes across many essential services, this latest hit on the pay packet almost looks like a win, or if that’s going too far, at least it won’t hurt as much.

Bear in mind the previous four annual price rises for electricity have been 11.37%, 9.06%, 11.82% and 13.29%.

It is interesting to note that the 6.6% hike would have been 8.31% bar for the State Government’s decision to limit the amount of revenue it would allow Energex and Ergon Energy to collect in 2011-12 as a result of a decision by the Australian Competition Tribunal.

That’s good work, but while I never look a gift horse in the mouth, why didn’t the Government do likewise in the previous four years?

It wouldn’t have anything to do with a looming state election and fear of a voter backlash?

Our political leaders are well aware that the escalting cost of living crisis is impacting on retail business across the State.

The Government might also note that despite all the talk about the huge demand for more power across the State and the need to invest billions into the network to deliver electricity to new clients, the load last year actually dropped 2.13%, meaning thousands of people and businesses were turning off appliances and lights they couldn’t afford to use.

I would suggest if load use was broken down across all Ergon customers, we would find evidence of big drops in consumption across many working-class communities struggling with expenses.

I urge the Government use this year’s decision as a benchmark for the future.

The average wage earner who is on about 3% annual increases can never cope with 10% power bill price rises – unless they win lotto.

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