Putting a Price on Carbon: Who will Pay? Financial Counselling Australia Conference 16 May 2012 Gerard Brody Director-Policy and Campaigns Consumer Action Law Centre Overview Carbon tax and compensation Misleading advertising Unequal burden of carbon tax What’s really driving energy prices? How can advocates improve outcomes Impact of carbon tax on inflation Carbon tax and compensation Carbon tax and compensation Couple with dependent children on moderate income ($81,640) financial assistance of between $7.90 and $23.60 a week: more than offset the average cost impact for this household. Couple with dependent children on low income ($44,800) financial assistance of between $11.10 and $24.10 a week, equivalent to at least 30% more than the average cost impact. Single parent with dependent children receiving the moderate income ($54,666) financial assistance of between $8.80 and $10.60 a week which will cover the average cost impact for this household. Single parent with dependent children receiving the low income ($36,359) eligible for financial assistance of between $8.60 and $16.60 a week, equivalent to at least 38% more than the average cost impact for this household. Misleading cost of carbon tax Role of ACCC Some examples that ACCC has its eye on: ‘Beat the Carbon Tax – Buy Now!’ ‘Our prices will be hit hard when the carbon price comes in’. ‘Our prices have increased by X% because of the carbon price’ Carbon tax on bills Proposal from NSW & QLD govt to disclose carbon tax and cost of environmental initiatives on bills Total Environment Centre claim this will necessarily mislead consumers Suggest ACCC should regulate as to how any disclosure is undertaken, so as not to mislead Impact of carbon tax is complex! How much you pay depends upon where you live Different average energy consumption in different states Carbon intensity of electricity consumption Electricity only versus dual fuel Would’ve been more equitable to apply compensation to kWh/bills (i.e. concessions) Then what is driving up prices? Network costs Rule change proposal from Australian Energy Regulator Ability of network companies to appeal regulatory decisions Lack of effective competition in retail and wholesale markets Power of 3 mega retailers Vertical integration What can we do? Financial counsellors and consumer advocates have powerful stories to tell about impact of rising bills Only with publicity of these impacts will there be the political will to reform the market to address some of these issues Questions?