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Poll: consumers in states with privatised power say prices now higher and they would support a public by-back

Feb 2, 2015

Mike Baird’s claim that power consumers in Victoria and South Australia are better off with privatised electricity networks has been exposed, with a new poll revealing consumers in those states believe prices are now higher, with the vast majority in support of a government buy-back to return power assets to full public ownership.

The ReachTEL phone poll of 2275 people, conducted on January 28, found a staggering 73 per cent of Victorians and 70.9 per cent of South Australians would support the return of the electricity network to public hands, with only 13.4 per cent of Victorians and 9.7 per cent of South Australians opposed to a buy-back.

In South Australia 74.1 per cent said they were now worse off due to the privatisation of the electricity network, with 66.7 per cent of Victorians sharing that view.

Almost two-thirds of consumers said power prices were cheaper under public ownership, while only one in seven said power prices were now lower with private operators.

Overall, just 8.1 per cent of South Australians and 13.8 per cent of Victorians believed they are better off with a privatised electricity network,

The Stop the Sell Off campaign, which commissioned the polling, said the figures were an extraordinary rejection of Mike Baird’s claims that selling profitable publicly owned electricity network companies Ausgrid, Endeavour, and TransGrid would be good for the people of New South Wales.

“This poll reveals the reality of power privatisation in Victoria and South Australia, where there has been cuts to services and increased prices as foreign owners seek to maximise their profits from these essential services,” Mr Kerslake said.

“The experience of consumers confirms the findings of the Federal Government’s energy regulator, which late last year revealed South Australia now has the highest power prices in the country.

“These results also explain why the people of Queensland so emphatically rejected Campbell Newman’s almost identical attempt to sell publicly owned electricity network assets, dumping him and his government.

“Mike Baird continually claims electricity consumers in Victoria are better off than in NSW, without backing it up with any evidence, but this poll confirms he is completely out of touch with the actual experience of power consumers.

“Given the chance to have their say, the people of Victoria and South Australia have said the exact opposite, with poorer service and higher prices the reality of their privatisation experience.”

Mr Kerslake said the polling also showed that after nearly two decades of power privatisation, the people of Victoria and South Australia still overwhelmingly reject the claim that private companies should own and operate the monopoly electricity network assets.

“In Victoria, 87.5 per cent of people agreed with the statement that the electricity network should be publicly owned and operated, a sentiment shared by 83 per cent of South Australians,” he said.

“The Liberal and National parties need to heed these warnings, as well as the fate of their Queensland colleagues, and stop selling public assets against the will of the people of NSW.”

The full poll results for Victoria and South Australia are available here.