Consumer first approach to lowering energy prices

24 Jan 2019

There are a lot of things which, on the face of them, simply don’t add up about the enormous cost of energy for households and businesses in Australia.

Chief among these is the simple fact that Australia possesses abundant sources of energy which are the envy of many nations, yet our households and businesses suffer some of the highest energy costs in the world.

It simply shouldn’t be this way.

It would be easy to get bogged down in discussing how we got here, but I suspect people in Mayo are as tired of the excuses as I am.

Unfortunately, we’re not going to see an end to entrenched political warfare over energy and climate policy anytime soon.

Fortunately however, there are indications of a shift in focus primarily on energy consumers. More of the politics of energy these days is about reducing costs. It’s a recognition that government policies and the practices of energy companies to date, while increasing renewables and reducing emissions, have cost Australians very dearly.

Renewables will play a strong role in our energy future. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will always be necessary and reducing reliance on fossil fuels will continue.

However now the focus must be on affordability, and this means putting energy consumers first.

Labor’s reckless energy policy announced late last year is a joke in this respect. It will wreck the economy, guarantee higher energy bills and cost taxpayers many more billions of dollars. It doesn’t put consumers first and Labor doesn’t even really try to claim that it does.

The Coalition’s policies are by contrast having an impact. For example, from the beginning of this year thousands of families and businesses on ‘standing offers’ will be getting an automatic discount of up to 15% on their electricity bills. Savings for some households in South Australia will be up to $400 a year.

This development is welcome, however it’s not enough. Incremental savings over time bring little relief as other costs of living and doing business continue to soar.

Australia’s energy bills should be among the lowest in the developed world, not the highest, and I’ll be pushing the Government to deliver stronger policies which will make this happen. Substantially driving down energy costs must be the top priority for every energy policy in 2019.

This column was written by Georgina Downer for the Weekender Herald published on 24 January 2019.