ACCC report identifies the problems but not the solutions

Nicholas McCallum

MEDIA RELEASE: Wednesday July 11, 2018

The release of today’s energy affordability report by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has confirmed what the Electrical Trades Union of Australia has been saying for years: privatisation of Australia’s essential electricity assets is failing consumers.

“Once again the ETU’s position on privatisation and government energy policy failure has been vindicated, this time by a report from the ACCC which shows Australian households are being ripped off by privatised energy companies and let down by government,” said ETU Assistant Divisional Secretary Dave Mier.

“But Australians don’t need another taxpayer-funded report to tell us what we already know, we need a political party willing to make a genuine change.”

The Assistant Divisional Secretary said that while the ETU agrees with many of the report’s findings on what is driving increases in energy costs, it is “outrageous” that the ACCC report suggests more privatisation and supporting an unwritten energy policy is a solution, when the report itself identifies these very things as factors driving prices up. 

“It is beyond bizarre that the ACCC identifies profiteering behaviour of private companies as a major cost driver but then suggests the cure to Australia’s high energy costs is more privatisation,” he said.

“We are also at a loss as to how the ACCC could be convinced the NEG is the solution when it hasn’t even finished being drafted yet.

“This report reveals the highly cynical nature of the ACCC when its default position is backing the Turnbull Government and more of the disastrous privatisation policies that have failed Australian households and failed to reduce energy costs.

“The electricity industry is already flooded with corporate parasites that are leeching every last dollar out of consumers. And the NEG provides little hope of fixing these problems,” Mr Mier said.

The ETU also took issue with the reports “ideological assumption” that writing down and selling off public assets will suddenly make them more viable.

“The neo-liberal mantra is that public assets are inherently inefficient while the exact same assets, managed in the exact same way, miraculously become efficient simply because they are in private hands,” Mr Mier said.

“It just doesn’t stack up when we know privatised power companies are generating millions of dollars in profits by including billions of dollars of ‘goodwill’, a completely artificial asset class, in their balance sheet.

“The report also chooses to focus on privatising public-owned generators that currently deliver cheaper wholesale electricity prices while ignoring the inefficient and expensive privatised states.”

ETU analysis of the report found that 80 per cent of the proposed cost savings identified by the ACCC can be achieved by simplifying the regulatory system and stopping the multinational energy retailers and generators from ripping off households.

“The simple fact is, if Malcolm Turnbull had any authority over his party he could slash our annual power bills by at least $200 overnight,” Mr Mier said.

“The sad fact is the Turnbull Government is too busy fighting amongst themselves to do anything to help the people with reduced power prices.”

Media enquiries: ETU National Communications Coordinator – Nicholas McCallum

0419 499 886, [email protected]

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