Submission to senate select committee into electricity prices

COTA Australia is the national policy arm of the eight State and Territory COTAs (Councils on the Ageing) in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, ACT and the Northern Territory.

COTA Australia has a focus on national policy issues from the perspective of older people as citizens and consumers and seeks to promote, improve and protect the circumstances and wellbeing of older people in Australia. COTA takes a rights based approach to all of its work.

One of our five guiding principles includes a commitment to seek to ensure that there is an adequate ‘safety net’ of services and income support which all senior Australians can access according to fair and equitable criteria in order to maintain an acceptable quality of life.

COTA welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Select Committee on Electricity Prices. There have been numerous articles in the media in many countries, including Australia, on the adverse impact of rising energy costs on older people, particularly those who are on fixed incomes. COTA NSW undertook a set of case studies on how older people respond to these rising prices and a copy of the report of that study is at Attachment A.

We consider the issues raised by the terms of reference for the inquiry to be broad ranging and that they offer the committee an opportunity to investigate in depth the features of the national electricity supply system and the impact on consumers of electricity. We are focusing on two issues raised within the terms of reference for the inquiry:

1. b. – Impacts on electricity bills and the long term interests of older consumers

1. d. – Mechanisms that could assist older consumers reduce their energy costs.