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Combet cut off from power bill shocks

As federal Climate Change minister dour Greg Combet is known in Canberra for reading everything and being on top of his briefs. While that’s commendable (and is part of the reason for his rapid rise since election in 2007), Combet was massively caught with his pants down yesterday when asked on 3AW about the average household electrcity bill:

“I wouldn’t know what the average power bill is, but I know that they have been going up quite significantly,” he said.

The vast bureaucracy and his own well-stocked private office need to make sure the minister knows what his own current electricity, gas and water bills are, what they run at for the year typically, and what the national average is and the averages in major markets and in each market he’s going to be interviewed in. This little file should be updated as new stats come in (he’s right, they’ll be ever increasing, partly due to government policies, mostly due to soaring global demand for energy).

Chances are the diligent Minister will be asked about this again. And again.

Too many in Canberra get lost in detail and struggle to connect what they do every day with what really matters to people. Combet doesn’t strike us as normally being that way but this “gaffe” – provoking a double-page vox-pop Herald Sun power-slam today in response – will hopefully get him on top of this.

The Hun was able to dig up the stats:

■ Average annual Victorian household electricity bill $1100 if you use gas $1400 if you’re all-electric (up 74% in past 5 years );

■ Average annual gas bill $1100-$1200 (up 40% in past five years – both power & gas up average $160-$230 a year in ‘latest’ price rises); and

■ There are 20,000+ households on electricity or gas financial hardship programmes, there has been a 156% surge in the number of disconnections for electricity payment defaults to 17,871 compared with five years ago.


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  1. I spend a lot of time turning off lights and appliances left turned on by lazy children. I have become my father.

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | March 13, 2012, 0:28