Environment and Water | March 18, 2019

Kealy – Energy Minister must end gas monopoly

The Nationals Member for Lowan, Emma Kealy says the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change must step in to ensure negotiations allow Origin and Red Energy to enter the Wimmera retail gas market.

EnergyAustralia has been the only gas supply retailer in the region since privatisation of the gas market in the 1990s.

Until 2013 the Wimmera and Colac Gas Supply Tariff Order 1998 constrained EnergyAustralia’s tariff increases to no more than the Consumer Price Index, keeping Wimmera gas prices capped and fair.

The Order expired in 2013 and despite Ms Kealy raising the issue with the Andrews Labor Government on many occasions, no action has been taken to renegotiate the agreement or break the local retail gas monopoly to protect local gas consumers from price gouging.

Because of Minister D’Ambrosio’s inaction, people in the Wimmera have experienced a huge 75% increase in gas prices over the past five years, with an increase of 15% in 2018.

“While it is fabulous to hear that we finally have other gas retailers considering entering the Wimmera retail gas market, the Minister needs to step in and make this happen,” Ms Kealy said.

“For too long EnergyAustralia has held the monopoly in this region which is completely unfair on local residents who have no ability to shop around and get a better price.

“In 2015 I asked the Minister to open up gas competition in the region but despite her promise to step in, she has done absolutely nothing to help local people access a competitive gas market.

“Since then I have repeatedly raised the issue in Parliament asking the Andrews Labor Government to explain what action they are taking to break the gas supply monopoly in the Wimmera.

“The Minister’s suggestion to “shop around” is pretty hard to do when there are no other suppliers.

“Labor has been in power for most of the past 20 years and has failed to do anything about the monopoly situation.

“This inaction left me with no choice but to approach the ACCC last year and request that they investigate any evidence of price gouging in the Wimmera to try to get some cost of living relief for local residents.

“Horsham residents can be assured that I will not give up the fight until they are able to access the same energy deals as those available in Melbourne.

“The Minister must immediately step up and make this happen.”

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