ACOSS welcomes report of Prime Minister’s Taskgroup on Energy Efficiency

8 October 2010

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes the report of the Prime Minister’s Taskgroup on Energy Efficiency and its recommendations towards improving energy efficiency.

“Increasing energy costs are hitting low-income households hard”, said ACOSS acting CEO Dr Tessa Boyd-Caine. “While low income households are frugal in their energy use compared to the average, they spend a greater proportion of their income on energy bills.”

“Energy prices have doubled over the past 10 years and are likely to double again in the next 10 years, regardless of any future carbon price. Better energy efficiency will dampen price rises and help reduce energy hardship and the growing number of disconnections of low-income earners.

“Low income households tend to live in the private rental market so have no control over the energy efficiency of their homes. Improving energy efficiency standards of buildings will help low income earners control their bills, while making their homes more comfortable places to live.”

Dr Boyd-Caine said ACOSS welcomed the cornerstone of the step-change of the proposed national energy savings initiative, which would oblige energy suppliers to constrain demand.

“This may well lead to retailers helping their customers reduce their energy use, which is especially needed by low-income households who may not have the resources or the expertise to reduce their bills,” Dr Boyd-Caine said.

“Better energy efficiency standards for vehicles will greatly benefit low-income households. Cars with the best fuel economy are usually beyond the reach of low-income earners, who buy on the second-hand market. Better fuel-economy standards for all cars will benefit low-income buyers when those cars flow through to them.

“It would be good to see an expansion of vehicle labelling to second hand dealers, so those on a tight budget have a better idea of future running costs.

“ACOSS supports the winding back of tax breaks for company cars, which are environmentally harmful and inequitable. These tax breaks benefit people on the top tax bracket and cost over $1 billion a year.

“Better public transport will help low-income households. Congestion pricing should only be introduced for routes that are well-serviced by public transport.”

Media Contact: Evan Mistilis, ACOSS – 0419 626 155