Energy prices in the Euroa electorate
06 September 2017
Ms RYAN (Euroa) — (13 018) The adjournment matter I raise this evening is for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change. The action I seek is that she immediately put in place measures to assist those who are struggling with the extreme and unreasonable increases in energy prices and to help them meet those costs. I am very concerned about the actions the government is taking which are currently driving up power prices. The Grattan Institute has pointed out that Labor's decision to unilaterally introduce the Victorian renewable energy target (VRET) will increase costs without any net environmental benefit. Tony Wood from the Grattan Institute has described the policy as a nasty dog's breakfast with dodgy modelling.
Labor has also lied about the impact of the closure of the Hazelwood power plant. On 3 November last year the Premier said on radio that the closure of Hazelwood would see power prices rise by 4 per cent or $0.85 a week. What we now know is that the average Victorian household is paying an extra $300 on their annual energy bills this year, and some businesses are facing power price increases of 250 per cent to 300 per cent. They are figures from the St Vincent de Paul Society. The Victorian Council of Social Service has also expressed concern about the policy, saying that we should not pretend that the VRET will magically drive down power prices. Its CEO, Emma King, has said that we should not be building a greener Victoria on the backs of people who are doing it tough.
I have heard in recent days from a number of people who are doing it tough. Today I was contacted by Gerry Rigg and his partner, Judith Worsfold, from Girgarre after they received a power bill of $770. That is a staggering increase on their last bill, which was $166. Gerry and Judith are age pensioners, and in Judith's words they are now being forced to choose between eating or heating their house.
David Wicker from Baddaginnie contacted me last week on behalf of his mother, whose energy bill has increased by $1000 in just one year. That is despite her usage being less this year than in the same period last year. Eric Christian, an elderly man who lives in the Currie Park retirement village in Euroa, is at the point where he is limiting the use of his heater because he cannot afford to pay his energy and gas bills.
The examples are pouring in, and I believe they are indicative of a crisis which our state is facing. It is clear that the crisis is being borne by the most vulnerable. I am also deeply concerned about the downstream effects this is likely to have on employment in regional economies as businesses try to tighten their margins in order to meet the huge increases that we have been seeing. Energy in this state has become completely unaffordable, and it is due to the policies that those opposite are introducing.