Electricity price reductions need government commitment: James Jackson

Power costs in regional communities are squarely in the spotlight once more with a new call for governments to guarantee lower prices.

As new Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Angus Taylor would take on the energy portfolio, farming and social services peak bodies are among those banding together to push for action.

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They are calling for a commitment from all levels of government to put in place 56 recommendations from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Together the measures are projected to reduce the minimum average electricity price by at least 20 per cent in the next four years.

The group of organisations, including the NSW Farmers’ Association, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and St Vincent de Paul Society (Victoria) among others, has made its move in light of uncertainty about the National Energy Guarantee’s (NEG) future.

The disappointing federal government decision on the NEG is a case in point.

NSW Farmers' president James Jackson

It is seeking that all levels of government commit to implementing the ACCC recommendations forecast to achieve a 20-25 per cent average electricity price reduction by 2020-21.

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The group also wants annual targets on achieving the price reduction established so the public can hold government to account.

NSW Farmers' Association president James Jackson. Photo contributed.

NSW Farmers' Association president James Jackson. Photo contributed.

“Farmers are forced to deal with risks no other small businesses are exposed to, including the crippling effect of drought and extreme weather,” NSW Farmers president James Jackson said.

“What we cannot deal with is the never-ending spikes in energy prices as a result of poor government policy and inaction.

“The disappointing federal government decision on the NEG is a case in point.

“There is something terribly wrong with the national electricity market where a small business owner, such as a dairy farmer, is now paying in excess of $100,000 for electricity every year.”

The ACCC had provided a “viable blueprint for affordable electricity”.

“All levels of government must now expeditiously implement the ACCC recommendations or be held to account for yet another failure in ensuring affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity for all Australians,” Mr Jackson said.

Member for Hume Angus Taylor. Photo: Jeff de Pasquale

Member for Hume Angus Taylor. Photo: Jeff de Pasquale

On Friday Mr Morrison declined to commit to the NEG, the policy that sparked last week's leadership coup, but said lower power prices remained a priority.

On Sunday as he unveiled his team Mr Morrison talked up Mr Taylor’s ability to tackle the challenges of being the new energy minister - or the "minister for reducing electricity prices".

"Angus Taylor has an incredible background working outside of this place and inside this place to solve complex and difficult problems," Mr Morrison said.