Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister: Will the Prime Minister update the House on the actions the government is taking to reduce power prices, back Australian jobs and deliver for families, including in my electorate of Dunkley? Is the Prime Minister aware of any alternative approaches?
I thank the member for his question. The government is backing Australian jobs and standing up for Australian families. We have taken strong action on energy, with measures that are reducing retail prices.
Mr Dreyfus interjecting—
We've seen them coming down in the last quarter. We hauled the big retailers in and demanded that they deliver a fair deal for their customers, and they contacted hundreds of thousands of their customers, told them they were on the wrong deal and gave them the opportunity to get onto the right one. Customers were able to save hundreds of dollars, and took that up. What we've also done is ensured that the companies that own the poles and wires are not able to keep on gaming the system to increase the rate at which they charge customers for that investment. We've succeeded in doing that by removing the ability to keep on appealing.
We have further to go. We've got more to do. And so, 15 months ago, the Treasurer commissioned the consumer watchdog, the ACCC, to look rigorously, deeply and thoroughly into this problem of high retail electricity prices. The commissioner's report has recommended a number of vital measures which we are taking up. We're going to take up his suggestion of directing the Energy Regulator to create a new benchmark price, a new default price. That'll be monitored by the ACCC and the regulator to ensure that savings are being passed on to customers. That means that, instead of people falling onto standing offers which are often very, very high and result in them paying hundreds of dollars more than they need to, there'll be one default offer. We are advised by the ACCC this will save 1.2 million consumers up to $416 a year and small and medium businesses up to just under $1,500 a year. That is the result of a report by the ACCC which we commissioned.
We're also going to ensure that the ACCC has the measures and the means to ensure the big companies do the right thing by their customers. We are prepared to have them ordered to divest parts of their businesses in order to stop cartels and the monopolistic behaviour that is jacking up electricity prices and not protecting the interests of the consumers, the people, that the companies are meant to serve.