Frydenberg must stop energy companies rorting Australians as another regulator fails to do its job

Nicholas McCallum

MEDIA RELEASE: Thursday May 17, 2018

The Turnbull Government needs to “stop doing nothing” and quickly find answers to allegations privatised energy companies have been gouging Australian households $400 million a year.

Earlier this week Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg claimed energy companies would be investigated following claims they ripped billions of dollars off customers by profiteering off tax bills they never actually paid.

But Mr Frydenberg’s call to have the Australian Energy Regulator investigate these rorts is not only pointless, it fails to address why his Government failed to take action when notified in 2015.

Electrical Trades Union of Australia National Secretary Allen Hicks is calling on Mr Frydenberg and the Turnbull Government to explain why it failed to act on these allegations when they were first raised three years ago.

“The Turnbull Government was warned in writing by two state governments about privatised power companies profiteering off the Australian people despite not paying taxes and they did nothing,” Mr Hicks said.

“Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott’s former industry minister Ian MacFarlane was warned about private energy company price gouging before he went to shill for Queensland miners but he did nothing.

“Now Frydenberg is trying to delay action by asking the Australian Energy Regulator to investigate these rip offs. But shouldn’t they have been doing that already?

“Just like the banks getting away with daylight robbery under ASIC’s watch, is this just another industry watchdog that’s asleep while Australian consumers are ripped off?”

“The Liberal Government has had five years to sort out Australia’s energy woes and the only solutions they’ve come up with are dozens of expensive taxpayer-funded reviews and blame,” Mr Hicks said.

“We even had to pay for the tea and biscuits meeting Turnbull called with Energy CEOs and still nothing has changed.”

The Turnbull Government’s National Energy Guarantee does nothing to address the profiteering of private energy providers, many owned by foreign companies, Mr Hicks said.

For the past two years, Mr Frydenberg and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have used every opportunity to attack state-owned energy companies for investing in network upgrades while ignoring the rampant profiteering and price-gouging by the Liberal Party’s large corporate mates – some who have not paid tax for a decade.

“We have a huge number of foreign-owned energy companies engaging in tax minimisation and tax avoidance strategies, they are literally squeezing every single last cent out of Australian energy consumers,” Mr Hicks said.

“Energy Australia for example isn’t paying tax in Australia despite revenue of $7.8 billion last year alone, and now we find they are pocketing the proceeds on taxes they didn’t even pay.”

The ETU National Secretary pointed to public ownership as being even more compelling following the $400 million yearly tax rort revelations, because government-owned corporations pay tax and are accountable to Government elected by the people.

“In contrast to these profiteering providers, we know public owned electricity assets pay their tax bills to state governments to spend on community services.

“They not gouging millions of dollars for siphoning offshore as inflated dividends and executive bonuses,” Mr Hicks said.

Media enquiries:

ETU National Secretary – Allen Hicks

0419 721 037, allen@etuaustralia.org.au

 


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