Time to “unmask the crooks”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has declared the electricity market broken in its long-awaited report. It made 56 recommendations that it said would save the average household between $290 and $450 per year.

In response to news that the Coalition and Greens MPs were ramping up their demands for a royal commission into energy prices, and that the ACCC was taking Click Energy to court for what it says were false or misleading discount offers, YourLifeChoices members vented their frustration. The following comments were typical of the hundreds received – and instructive.

Mick: You know there is plenty of money in the energy sector when players like Energy Australia and others can run prime-time TV advertising offering 25 per cent discounts on electricity. A cash-strapped industry could not afford to do that and the whole notion of having to put up prices is similar to the health insurance model where customers are being fleeced. The free market is not working in this industry. It is a cartel and a royal commission, like that into banking, will unmask the crooks. That needs to happen to fix the industry. But just like banking, the prime minister is protecting the crooks and refuses to act.

Captain: The energy sector sales of the 1980s and ongoing today are signs that all governments in Australia over the last 30 years are lazy bludgers who always find the easy way rather than what is best for Australia and Australians. I rallied against the sale of Victoria’s energy suppliers in the late 80s but my voice, and others, were lost in the wilderness.

SunnyOz: It’s not just the cost of power that needs reining in – it is the so-called supply charges. My quarterly charges have increased from $21.82 in 2012 to $120.62 in 2018. That is a 452.8 per cent increase in six years! That is obscene.

Cowboy Jim: Just had a look at my bill. My average costs are $3.04 a day, of that $1.54 is the supply charge. NSW Government rebate (pensioner) is $0.78. The supply charges are the problem.

Peter: The retail price per unit of electricity or gas is never published or when it is published it is masked by so many other numbers it will be difficult to get the true picture. There must be a public investigation into these practices and it must be mandated that the retail price is published every month and without any other masking and confusing information.

HS: So, I go into my electricity provider’s website and notice this headline: No discounts. No tricks. Just low rates. Oh, really? So does this mean that for the past three years where I am on a supposedly 25 per cent discount for on-time payments, I was being tricked with a higher rate? Yes. Because, when I changed to the 25 per cent plan, the rate per kw/h increased by seven cents compared to the previous kw/h charge … I really wasn’t getting a 25 per cent discount. I was getting less discount. But, that aside, I was curious what the low rate was and I clicked on the link for ‘Low Rates and Plans’. Plans in plural? Rates in plural? Hmm … guess what? Not a single numerical dollar value per kw/h was declared.

Why not keep the conversation going with your ideas on how to fix the system?

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Written by Janelle Ward

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