Privatised electricity market free-for-all a failed system that costs Australian households billions

Nicholas McCallum

 MEDIA RELEASE: Friday, 18 January 2019 

The privatisation of Australia’s electricity has driven up costs and decreased reliability yet the Morrison Government starts another year failing to have any real plan or policy to address it.

A new report from the Australia Institute confirms what the Electrical Trades Union of Australia has long stated: that privatisation of the electrical sector is costing Australians billions and bloating sales and management staff while electrical tradespeople are de-prioritised.

ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks said privatisation and the pursuit of profits has seen higher costs passed on to the consumer while investment in the reliability of service has dropped.

 “Today’s report from the Australia Institute shows how privatisation of the energy sector has been a big win for energy company profits while consumers lose $2 billion a year,” he said.

“Australian households are slugged $200 a year in their bills because they subsidise their energy companies chasing down new customers to make more profit.

“People are sick of energy companies spending money on aggressive sales people and flashy advertising when they should be investing in electrical tradespeople and ensuring safe supply when its needed, like right now during a nationwide heatwave.”

The report found that between 2000 and 2018, electrical company sales staff have increased by 400% and managers by 200%, while electrical tradespeople have increased by only 21%. 

“These companies have failed to invest in energy workers and the actual business of energy production,” Mr Hicks said.

“Now we’re being warned that because of Australia’s overly complicated electricity market, there might be shortfalls in supply and the best we can hope for is thatenergy generators will step up when needed.

“It’s becoming clearer every day that privatisation has failed at both the consumer and generation ends of the market and the only people not complaining are energy company bosses and shareholders.”

Mr Hicks said despite the Morrison Government’s “big stick” threats to energy companies last year, Energy Minister Angus Taylor has been conspicuously absent in 2019 as electricity prices likely to soar along with temperatures across the nation.

“It was clear that the Morrison Government’s threats to the big energy companies were nothing but hot air,” he said.

“Despite all the threats, Australia’s energy prices this year look set to increase and Angus Taylor has not said a word about his failure as the ‘minister for getting energy prices down’.

“Just as well, because the Australia Institute report makes clear that breaking up energy companies will lead to further price increases as they pour money into their own ads and marketing.

“What Australia needs is a real and meaningful energy policy that trains electrical tradespeople so we can pursue a just transition to cleaner, cheaper renewable energy. We don’t need more private electrical companies chasing profits.”

Media enquiries: ETU National Communications Coordinator – Nicholas McCallum

0419 499 886, [email protected]

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