High Gas Prices Are Starting to Set Australian Citizens on Debt Fire

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Regular citizens are starting to get drowned with gas bills. More are alarmed by wildly varied prices for the same gas consumption.

The last three months in the Consumer Action Law Centre were jam-packed with complaints from citizens struggling to pay their energy bills. The government, together with energy regulation bodies, are pushed to make a move in this alarming situation. 

Since March 2021, gas prices have already gone up six times. Retail gas prices are also expected to spike more, around 20%, from this year to 2024. The average debt of most people because of energy bills is more than $2,000.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers plans to cap wholesale gas and coal prices. According to The Guardian, their in-house lawyers and counsellors found two significant dilemmas that set people on fire: home heating and power bills.

“One of the most heartbreaking issues is seeing people experiencing vulnerability being charged way more for their basic gas service compared with other customers. Dealing with this issue needs to be part of any response from energy ministers,” stated The Guardian.

Other citizens further complain of irregular and unfair billing. Some are charged way higher than others but have the same consumption. One of the clients of The Guardian, a woman who has been jobless for nine months due to an injury, currently has a ballooning bill debt of $20,000.

The people call for a regulatory intervention that practises fairness and transparency. “But a hidden problem is that some people pay much more than others for the same amount of gas. Those who don’t regularly switch retailers will commonly be pushed to very high “standing” prices – way above the odds of a competitive price. This occurs because gas retailers have the power to set prices themselves, and the regulators lack the power to intervene,” said The Guardian.

According to research conducted by St Vincent de Paul, the Victorians who do not or cannot switch are prone to exploitation by high gas prices. Switching from the worst standing offer to the most excellent available market offer may save a typical household $2,300 to $2,400 on their annual gas cost. 

Unfair gas pricing can set fire to many households burning them into ashes of debt. As this commodity is essential, authorities should start to observe equalising retail pricing to alleviate more people’s lives.

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