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Interview with Leon Byner, FiveAA

14 August 2020

Interviewer: 
Leon Byner

Subject: Energy prices

E&OE

LEON BYNER: Angus, it's great to talk about something when it's good news and I thank you for coming on, but as you well know, the retailers are not passing it on. Can I make a suggestion as to how you might do it without regulating?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Thanks for having me, Leon. I'm very open to suggestions. But look, we are seeing some reductions, but, the key is-

LEON BYNER: Not enough, not enough.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah - and more needs to come through, I agree with that. I was speaking with Rod Sims, the Chairman of the ACCC, about this very issue in the last 24 hours-

LEON BYNER: Good on you.

ANGUS TAYLOR: We need to see it passed through. But now, the other point I'll make though is that there are sharper offers being made by some of the retailers because they've got lower wholesale prices, and shopping around is the key to getting access to those. So, it is very important - Energy Made Easy, very easy to use website where you can go and check what's the best possible plan for you, the best way to get one of those sharper prices. We're going to keep working to make sure they keep coming down. They need to do it. We've seen the wholesale prices coming down, we want pass through as you rightly said.

LEON BYNER: Now, I reckon the way to do it is this. You know full well how much these people are holding back, because they are - I'm talking about some retailers - name them, shame them and tell us. You see, they've given us a little bit but they're holding on to most of it. I don't think you need to do anything legislatively to force them to give us a bit more and make a real difference. What do you think?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, I tell you what, the big retailers are the ones that are not passing it on as quickly, that is true.

LEON BYNER: Yes, AGL.

ANGUS TAYLOR: This is why - yes, exactly right - and this is why getting on to Energy Made Easy or an equivalent, there's others around, where you actually put in your usage and see which plan is best for you. You'll see some of these smaller retailers now offering sharper prices. The big guys have been too slow. It's very clear. I have made this point to them and will continue making the point to them. I think, over time, competition will force them to pass this on and we're certainly going to-

LEON BYNER: Well…

ANGUS TAYLOR: We're going to make sure the ACCC is also well over this and that's why I've having discussions with Rod Sims. But there are sharper prices coming through from some of the smaller retailers who are much more eager to get access to new customers.

LEON BYNER: I've done a bit of a ring around to ask people - some experts in the energy field, and no doubt you've done the same thing - and they've told me that there could be 18 to 20 per cent decrease in this, we've only been given 2 or 3 (per cent). Now, maybe you'll get 5 (per cent) if you've got a keener deal from a smaller operator, but I think what we've got to do is say, listen guys - AGL and others like Energy Australia - why are you charging this when you should be charging around this? I reckon that'd go a long way to sort this out.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, and that is the work that we need the ACCC constantly doing so that we can point out where one of the retailers is taking the mickey. And we've really, we've really got to give customers the best information and we have to call them out - I agree with you, that's exactly right. I mean, look, we saw the same thing with petrol prices, and you and I talked about this a while back.

LEON BYNER: Yep. Where they took too long to flow through in South Australia. We did eventually get them flowing through, but, you know, it's the same thing - we're going to jawbone these bigger retailers, and we're going to encourage customers to have a look around and look for a sharper price because they are out there.

LEON BYNER: I might give Rod a ring next week and ask him about this, because I'm damn sure that if he goes on that path and actually says here are the prices that from our calculations or the discounts you should be getting, why aren't you getting them - then that'd be a good start I reckon, wouldn't it?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Absolutely. Absolutely agree.

LEON BYNER: Well, Angus, thank you for coming on the program today. That's the Federal Energy, Minister Angus Taylor.

Media contact:

Minister Taylor's office: 02 6277 7120