“Every single person will feel that pain, every voter will remember.”
That was the message from a Mudgee region business leader to the NSW Treasurer on the recent energy price hike.
While visiting the region with his children for the school holidays, Dominic Perrottet agreed to attend a dinner organised by the Member for Dubbo Troy Grant and the Mudgee Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
The dinner involved a two-hour question and answer session with the community – with topics ranging from the Mudgee Hospital redevelopment, Bells Line roadworks, payroll tax and the elusive Mudgee art gallery.
But the last question of the night seemed to be the clear crowd-pleaser – “You need to articulate what you’re doing about energy prices. I think the rise is going to bring you unstuck, in the next three months, 12 months, this pain is really going to ripple through the community.”
A price hike, around 20 per cent for gas and electricity from Australia’s energy providers, came into effect from July.
In New South Wales, major providers Energy Australia and Origin have estimated bill hikes of 19.6 and 16 per cent respectively.
Energy Australia estimates the price increase will cost households an extra $6.15 per week for electricity and an extra 95c per week for gas.
Mr Perrottet agreed the cost of living “is by far the biggest issue” for the government.
But continued “anyone looking around the country will see that energy prices are not unique to NSW, they are a national issue.”
“The best way to address this is with a national response, which we will be engaged in, and importantly from a political perspective we need to be involved in that narrative because our opponents are the ones now claiming the moral high ground.”
Mr Grant took over the discussion by saying the community is “sick of [politicians] passing the buck”, so we’ve got a real conundrum because people don’t differentiate between federal and state and often local politics.
“They don’t care, they just want us to fix it,” he said.
“The amount of phone calls I get to fix footpaths or to fix the reception on your TV and phone coverage, I have no control over those things, but the expectation from the community is that as the member I can influence that at minimum, and I really can’t.
“We have to simplify the message so that the community understands it because if we don’t, we know what we’re going to get,” Mr Grant said.
Mr Perrottet backed that message up by saying energy prices “are something we should be looking at because it’s the right thing to do, not simply because it’s going to help us politically”.
“Our position will always be to do the best for the state.”