Minister for Energy, Guy Barnett, has acknowledged he reported incorrect data when he claimed that energy debt in Tasmania ‘has nearly halved’ in Budget Estimates earlier this week.TasCOSS CEO, Ms Adrienne Picone, said it was welcome the Minister was now across the most recent data which clearly shows both the number of households in debt and the level of debt is increasing. “Now the Minister has a clearer understanding of the scale of energy hardship in Tasmania — a problem which is in fact getting worse, not better — we look forward to more direct action from the Government on solutions to address the growing problem of energy affordability,” Ms Picone said. “Importantly, we will continue to highlight the reality of rising energy bills, higher debt and cost of living pressures on Tasmanian households — which are only set to get worse with the expected electricity price increase next month. “We are extremely concerned that rising energy costs will see more Tasmanians entrenched in financial hardship.” TasCOSS is calling for the Government to take more direct action to support households to manage their energy bills and help to prevent people entering energy debt by:
- Capping electricity prices (as it did in 2018 to protect Tasmanian households and businesses from future price hikes);
- Undertaking a review of the electricity concession scheme to ensure it is well targeted and appropriate; and
- Investing in a program of household energy efficiency initiatives to support low income and rental households to lower their energy bills.