Victoria has taken the lead among Australian states in recent years with significant reforms designed to protect Victorians from being ripped off by energy retailers and ensure people receive appropriate hardship assistance. There has been some success, but too many people are still falling through the gaps.
That’s the headline result of a new report, ‘Bills Here, Bills There: The Lived Experience of Victorian Energy Reform’ published today by Consumer Action.
“The Payment Difficulty Framework and the Victorian Default Offer (VDO) for electricity pricing are good foundations on which to protect Victorian’s struggling with energy bills and we commend the Victorian Government for progressing these reforms,” said Gerard Brody, CEO Consumer Action.
“There is still work to do to bring the pieces together and make sure all Victorians are able to benefit from the protections in place.
“Regulators must be fully empowered to enforce compliance with the rules and retailers need to step up,” he said.
The COVID-19 crisis has underscored and the importance of keeping the community connected to essential services. The Report includes an in-depth interview with a mother of five who is struggling with energy debt, and interviews with financial counsellors on the front-line helping people with energy bills.
“It’s important regulators and policymakers see how energy policy is working in the real world and consider people’s lived experiences,” said Mr Brody
The Report makes a number of recommendations, including:
- a Victorian Default Offer for gas to ensure consistency in protections with electricity;
- a ban on unsolicited selling of traditional and new energy products; and
- enhancing the Essential Services Commission’s compliance and enforcement powers.
Media contact: Mark Pearce, Media and Communications Adviser, 0413 299 567, firstname.lastname@example.org