The cost of retail gas in Western Australia will increase by 8.3% from today, costing the average family approximately $47 more per week.

Robin Chapple MLC is calling for an honest appraisal of the underlying reasons for the consistent increases in energy costs to the Western Australian people.

“The reality is that privatization is to blame for these constant price rises. When the Liberal Government moved to privatize the supply of gas back in 1999, this opened the door for the producers to set the cost of supply to the retailer, who then has no choice but to pass through those costs to the consumer, or be forced to absorb them. If it passes them on it is unpopular, but if it absorbs them it effectively becomes unviable – which is a no-win situation”, said Mr Chapple.

“The pawns in this privatization game are the Western Australian public, who could be seen to be funding through increasing energy costs, the costs of development, new infrastructure and exploration for the private companies who supply gas to the retailer, Alinta. This is an unfortunate effect of privatization, and why we opposed this move in 1999, and we continue to oppose it in 2012.”

Mr Chapple said that while much of the profit taken by these companies comes from export of Australian gas, and that ‘domestic’ gas in Western Australia is sold to our community at up to three times more than it is sold for overseas, there is an inequity in the way the development costs are being distributed by the gas producers via Alinta.

Over the past two decades, successive state Liberal and Labor governments have corporatised and privatised the energy and water supply sectors. In 1995, the then Liberal government carved up the State Energy Commission of Western Australia into separate gas and electricity utilities—Alinta Gas and Western Power. In 2001, one of the first major undertakings of the Geoff Gallop-led Labor government was to restructure electricity services and divide Western Power. Escalating price rises have been the inevitable result of this wholesale privatization of State-owned entities, impacting directly on the most vulnerable sections of the population.

“Given that these inequities are built into privatization by virtue of the producers being able to set the price at which gas is supplied, there is little room for challenge on these increases. After successive bailouts of Alinta Energy Group heralding its long term unsustainability, it is high time that Governments acknowledged that essential services are there for the public good not the private purse, and treat them as such”, Mr Chapple said.

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255

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