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Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

22 July 2020

Ben Fordham

Subject: Energy prices, energy usage


BEN FORDHAM: I mentioned a few days ago that more than a quarter of Australian households are suffering from energy poverty - risking their health and comfort during the winter to avoid billing anxiety. And I said the prices of electricity are supposed to be coming down, but time and time again we're hearing from people on the open line that they're not. Listening in was the Minister for Energy Angus Taylor and he wants to respond. He's on the line. Good morning to you, Angus.

ANGUS TAYLOR: G’day, Ben. Thanks for having me.

BEN FORDHAM: We read today prices for electricity have gone down but anecdotally, we're being told those discounts are not being passed on.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well what we know for sure, Ben, is that people's usage is going way up because of COVID - they're spending more time at home. That's understandable, particularly during winter they've got the heaters on and so usage is up and that's a challenge. We're really aware of that problem for so many people. Whilst overall energy demand hasn't gone up, it has at home, particularly for people who have had to stay home for COVID. So the challenge is to try to manage that increased usage. There's a couple of things here that can really help people out. First of all, those who are really struggling, we have strengthened the hardship policy. So they can call up their retailer. There's no late payment fees, there's no disconnection under the current circumstances - that was agreed at the beginning of COVID. But secondly, Ben, we are seeing reductions in prices. But the only way you can be guaranteed of getting the best possible price is to shop around. That means getting online and having a look at the offers available. The Energy Made Easy website is the best way to do that. You can actually upload your actual usage, the amount you've been using, and it will find the best plan for you. We've had Australia's best scientists from the CSIRO working this up for us. You can get on there and you can find the best available offer. What's happening is those lower wholesale prices are available in the marketplace, but you've got to shop around. It's often the smaller players that are making the best offers out there.

BEN FORDHAM: Alright. The Prime Minister made you the “Minister for lowering electricity prices”. I'm sure it doesn't say that on your business card but that's certainly what Scott Morrison said. So you're saying that consumption is up but you are maintaining that prices are down?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah. Look, if you get on and shop around, you'll find the best available offer. For those who haven't shopped around, we've put in place price caps. The prices in New South Wales are up to $600 lower on average for those who aren't shopping around since a year ago when we put those price caps in place. But look, the only way to get the best available offer is to shop around. It's like buying a shirt or buying a car, it is a market. You've got to get on, the Energy Made Easy website allows you to do that, get onto the website and find the best available offer.

BEN FORDHAM: energymadeeasy.gov.au - Angus Taylor, thanks so much. Appreciate your time.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks, Ben.