In earlier EarthCares I discussed why Australia needs to reduce carbon emissions and how a price on carbon is the way the Federal Government has selected to achieve that. Consequently, when high emitters started paying a Carbon Tax from 1 July, I am in the carbon pricing supporters’ camp.
My intention this week had been to reinforce the logic and need for the Carbon price in the face of a flurry of exaggerated claims, however Synergy’s response caused a change of tack.
I do believe many of the absurd assertions out there are motivated by political rather than scientific or fiscal considerations. We in Australia are not leading the way in putting a price on carbon, we are in fact catching up; our Carbon Tax had nothing to do with the closure of the Munmorah Power Station in NSW, it’s been on standby for years and way past it’s use-by date; and, for every job lost in the polluting industries several more secure jobs will be generated in renewable industries. Major industry players support the way forward through the Carbon Tax and are concerned at the Leader of the Opposition’s threat to rescind it, this would be a protracted process removing business certainty that was ushered in last Sunday.
It may be predictable, but still very disappointing that greed is playing its part during the introduction of the Carbon Tax. Brumby’s Managing Director Deane Priest’s advice to all his franchisees to increase prices and “..…Let the carbon tax take the blame…” was a classic example, though to be fair, Mr Priest isn’t the only business person considering capitalising on the introduction of the Carbon Tax to boost profits. Synergy is playing a very cynical, profiteering game charging their GreenPower customers for increases in power costs due to the Carbon Tax. Green power by its very nature does not emit carbon, that is the only reason consumers, such as myself, pay the higher price for it and wouldn’t you think Synergy would know that? Consequently Synergy spokesperson, Andrew Gasper’s statement that, they need to charge the increase because Synergy do not know if the power entering a home is generated by renewable or fossil fuel left me utterly speechless. The only conclusion I can draw is that along with 7,000 other GreenPower users I have been charged, for years, for something they did not supply,- grounds for a Class action if ever there was one.
Synergy is a State owned utility, therefore any strategic decisions are ultimately the responsibility of the Energy Minister Peter Collier, yet I have seen no media response from him on why Synergy should be allowed to get away with such price-gouging. However, in a highpoint of illogical political posturing the Premier responded to Synergy’s abuse of the Tax on Wednesday’s ABC radio “In some ways it (the price on Carbon) may actually stop a transition to cleaner energy“. Joining the dots between these two events leads me to the conclusion that this may be a politically motivated move by the State Government to undermine the introduction of the Carbon Tax. Who better, it seems, to sacrifice on the political pyre than the very people who, by their act of paying extra for GreenPower, can be seen as supporting a price on carbon? Media reports state many GreenPower customers are pulling out of the scheme to send a message to Synergy-I shall be considering joining them.
Early evidence shows the Carbon Tax will be blamed for many price rises it simply did not affect, there are many opportunists out there ready to profit on the introduction of a new tax. Remember, retailers are free to set whatever price they want on most goods and services, so the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission are not concerned about price increases per se, what does attract their attention and possible large fines is when a price rise is falsely attributed to the Carbon Tax. If you feel you are the victim of an unscrupulous price increase falsely attributed to the Carbon Tax contact the seller or supplier for an explanation, and if you are not satisfied with their explanation contact the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (www.accc.gov.au). That’s what I’ll be doing about my GreenPower.
On a lighter note, what’s in a name? Whilst proofreading I find….Mr Priest gave a sermon to bakers on price rises, Mr Collier seems to be supporting coal power and Mr Gasper gave the breathtaking response from Synergy:>
Published in Fremantle Herald 7th July 2012