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Fuzzy Facts From The Empty Suit

9 Aug 2012

The PM is going to be chatting live on-line today at, focused on the question of rising power prices. This should be a pretty straightforward issue, with facts guiding the discussion. But, The Empty Suit, Leader of the Coalition, is trying to muddle the issue…and who can blame him? He’s rolled the dice trying to scare the entire nation about the carbon tax — which is proving to be a non-event.

Yes, prices of electricity are going up. But, it’s pretty clear this has virtually nothing to do with the carbon tax.

Here is a pretty simple explanation from the PM, as a curtain-raiser to her on-line talk:

First, the states who own electricity network businesses are doing well out of it.

Take New South Wales: separate to carbon pricing, there’s been a 70 per cent increase in prices over four years. And there’s been a 60 per cent increase in the dividends that the NSW Government gets.

Second, meeting peak power costs too much. One quarter of your electricity bill, more than $500 a year for a typical family, is spent to meet the costs of peak events that last for less than two days each year in total. It’s like building a ten-lane freeway, but with two lanes that are only used or needed for one long weekend.

Third, customers need more choice. The states should sign up to the National Energy Customer Framework, with strong protections when people can’t pay their electricity bills and extra information to help customers get the best energy deal.

And finally, I am pushing for the whole electricity system to operate more efficiently and more effectively. I’d rather do this with the states. We’ll only use the big stick of stronger powers for the Energy Regulator and the ACCC if we have to.

In other words, it’s the electricity generating companies who are trying to sock us with costs for building up new capacity. In Queensland and Victoria, the power companies have not invested in new capacity since 1998 — and, as the PM points out, they now need to do so largely to absorb peak power needs for just a few days a year. That has zero to do with the carbon tax. None. Nada.

The Empty Suit, though, is in a real box. He has staked a huge part of his campaign on the “sky is falling” results from the carbon tax. So, when you listen to what he says now, pay very little attention because it’s not based on the real facts on the reason for the rise in electricity prices.