IN A bid to deflect anger over rising electricity prices, the Gillard government has persuaded utility companies to enclose in household power bills a flyer explaining the role of the carbon price.
Most of the bills mailed out for the rest of the year will include a double-sided sheet explaining that for each $100 in electricity costs, the carbon price makes up $9, compared with $51 for the network of poles and wires and $20 each for wholesale electricity and retail services.
The move – which will cost taxpayers nearly $130,000 – reflects government concern that the carbon tax is being unfairly blamed for the broad rise in power bills, which has overtaken petrol prices as a lightning rod for consumer price concerns.
It came as left-leaning think tank the Australia Institute released a table that showed the $10.10 a week that the carbon price will cost the average household – even before compensation – is less than the money they waste each week by throwing away food.
It is also less than the average household spends on sweets and chocolate and tobacco and barely a third of the money dished out for fast food or alcoholic drinks.
Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said 19 utility companies had agreed to include the government flyer, with just three refusing – Synergy and Horizon Power, both owned by the West Australian government, and Ergon, owned by the Queensland government.
”The government is determined to ensure households get the facts about electricity prices instead of the myths they have been fed by the opposition over the last 16 months,” he said.
He also took a dig at the Coalition WA and Liberal-National Queensland governments, suggesting they were ”afraid of people hearing the facts about electricity prices”.
Richard Denniss, executive director of the Australia Institute, said the comparison of the carbon price impact with other household costs showed that the fear about rising prices was blown out of proportion.
”I hate to say it, but I think this whole debate shows that the issues most Australians worry about are discretionary. Clearly as a proportion of our household budget, this is a very small issue, especially once household compensation is factored in,” he said.
But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said people would find that the heftier power bills to be sent out soon were just the start in a likely series of rises.
”Every cost in our economy embeds power and transport and the whole point of a carbon tax is to make power and transport more expensive because power and transport use fuels that emit carbon dioxide,” he said.
A report released last week by the Australian Energy Market Operator found that energy demand was falling – partly because of rising prices and the uptake of rooftop solar power – which could check the steady rise in power bills of recent years.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.