January 4, 2017

Wyatt knew power bills would cause hardship

The callous disregard of the McGowan Government for Western Australian families experiencing financial hardship was laid clear today with the release of the Economic Regulation Authority report into customer hardship.

Shadow Treasurer Dean Nalder said the report into customer hardship highlighted the number of people struggling with their power bills had already reached six-year highs in 2016/17 before the McGowan Government bought in massive increases in July 2017.

“The number of people requiring Hardship Utility Grant Scheme assistance has hit record levels since those increases came in and now we can see the McGowan Government knew full well what the impact of the enormous increases would be,” Mr Nalder said.

“This report also shows it is not just people receiving financial assistance who are doing it tough.

“On average, households that are not receiving financial hardship assistance are $384 in debt for electricity and $65 for gas. It is much worse for those receiving financial assistance, they have an average debt of $596 for electricity and $245 for gas.”

Mr Nalder said the former Liberal-led Government was aware of the bill shock and financial stress Western Australians were experiencing, so kept its last electricity price rise to a modest 3 per cent.

“By comparison, the McGowan Government introduced an average 11 per cent increase by doubling the fixed charge, meaning people can’t even reduce the bill shock by reducing consumption,” Mr Nalder said.

“Energy Minister Ben Wyatt also had full knowledge his power price rises would disproportionately impact single household pensioners, which on average were hit with an unbelievable 30 per cent increase in their electricity bill.

“What was Ben Wyatt’s response to all this hardship – he has made getting financial assistance harder by forcing struggling households to wait six months before receiving hardship payments.

“The Labor Government is spending billions of dollars on the Metronet monument to Mark McGowan while Western Australians are unable to pay their electricity bills.

“The McGowan Government will not grow the economy by increasing taxes and increasing the cost of living, it must reduce spending, reduce costs and increase competition in the State-owned energy corporations.”

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