Voters who are concerned by rising electricity and water costs are encouraged to ask hard questions of candidates in the upcoming NSW election.
PIAC’s Energy & Water Consumers’ Advocacy Program (EWCAP) has developed a set of five questions for local candidates.
‘Now that the 2011 NSW election campaign is under way, we thought it would be useful to provide individuals with some questions to ask at Meet the Candidates forums in their local area,’ said EWCAP Senior Policy Officer, Carolyn Hodge.
‘The main benefit of asking these questions is to find out what the candidates think about electricity and water issues.
‘But there is also the benefit that elected MPs will go into the new Parliament in the knowledge that the electorate takes energy and water affordability seriously and that it is the job of our elected representatives to address the issues,’ Ms Hodge said.
‘We encourage individuals to choose a question or two from the list below, and ask them of candidates attending the local forums.
‘Check local newspapers for dates and details of these forums.’
1. We have heard a lot in the media, and felt in our own bills, about rising energy costs and how this will happen regardless of greenhouse policy. The replacement of inefficient household appliances is an effective way to protect many low-income people from rising energy bills, with the additional benefit of reducing carbon emissions. If elected, what action will you take to improve the access and affordability of energy efficient appliances to low-income households?
2. Currently the NSW Energy Rebate is indexed to energy price increases. It is not clear that this will continue beyond 2012. If elected, what will you / your party do to ensure that the Energy Rebate is not eroded by energy bill increases after 2012?
3. The NSW Government has sold off the State-owned energy retailers. If elected, what steps will you take to ensure that vulnerable NSW households do not lose consumer protections in the face of privatisation and rising energy costs?
4. Household water supply across NSW is inconsistent. Services vary from large water corporations such as Sydney Water and Hunter Water, who do a reasonable job on customer protections, to small, Local Government authorities whose customers face uncertain and inadequate protections and rebates. If elected, how will you/your party ensure that rebates and consumer protections are consistently applied across the state?
5. Energy bills are rising, and it is important that vulnerable households receive the assistance that they need. Yet many poor households do not have access to the existing schemes that are available in this state. For example, many people living in residential parks or retirement villages cannot access rebates and Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) vouchers. What will you do to ensure that a remedy is found to this problem?