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Power bills short circuit happy tidings

I recently became the Labour Party’s Spokesman for Energy. That means holding the Government to account over power prices.

I am sure that you have watched your power bills go up this year, just as they have done year after year.

For some people it is beyond what they can afford.

New figures out last fortnight showed that almost 20,000 Kiwis have had their power cut off so far this year because they could not afford to pay their electricity bills.

These are not just numbers; most of those 19,245 households would have suffered stress and sleepless nights, have struggled to pay their bill and then suffered the indignity of disconnection despite their best efforts.

Unfair increase

Businesses are feeling the burden too. Rising power prices cut into profits.

While many of our competitor countries have seen their electricity prices decline, ours have increased year after year.

Rising power bills make it difficult for New Zealand’s businesspeople to compete. They tell me that they feel abandoned by the current Government.

During the past five years, electricity use dropped 1.6% but prices moved up a staggering 30%, confirming suspicions that big corporate power companies are making record profits out of our pockets.

It is about to get worse. When the Government sells half our publicly-owned power companies, the new owners will demand higher profits that can only come from your pockets.

Under Labour Government, there will be no opportunity for power companies to make excess profits at the expense of New Zealand families.

Single buyer

The next Labour Government will create an agency called ‘NZ Power’ to act as a single buyer of wholesale electricity.

NZ Power will act like Pharmac that obtains good deals on drugs from the big pharmaceutical companies saving us millions of dollars.

NZ Power will ensure electricity companies get a fair return on their investment, while passing savings on to you. It is a bold policy that will lower power costs for both commercial and residential users by hundreds of dollars.

And, it will create jobs. The Independent economists BERL estimate that NZ Power will boost economic growth by $450 million and create 5000 jobs.

There are many countries that have similar systems (like NZ Power). Among them are Canada, US, South Korea and Brazil, which have fast-growing economies.

Whether you run a business or a family budget, the next Labour Government will reduce your power bill while boosting the economy.

It is the smart and fair thing to do – to put Kiwis, not big companies, at the front of the queue.

David is an elected Member of Parliament representing Labour Party in Mt Albert (Auckland) constituency.

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