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Byron Shire
May 10, 2021

Electricity ‘fun facts’

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Anonymous, Ballina

I’m surprised that a part of David Lowe’s online article of March 15 slipped under the fact-check radar (‘Tamara Smith Calls for More Fairness’) in relation to electricity charges in caravan parks.

In the interests of transparency, I too am a resident of the park. I’ll ignore the emotive quotes of the person interviewed and reserve judgment on her conduct in this matter, but here are some fun facts from a person who has paid electricity in this park for more than 20 years.

The assertion that the park was making $3,000 a week on top of the electricity charged is preposterous. That’s $120 per month per household: enough for pitchforks and pikes in the streets. My bill at the time? Around $40 per month.

Five barristers? A look at the judgment on the case-law website cites one counsel and one solicitor for each party.

And power costs down 50 per cent is arrant nonsense, but I will get to that later.

The Supreme Court decision is a complicated read, citing 10 current and former acts. Suffice to say, the court highlighted deficiencies between implementation of state residential park and Commonwealth energy legislation and was critical of poorly drafted laws that retained definitions in one act and omitted those definitions from others.

No wonder, then, the park operators were adrift on what should be charged, even with written confirmation of the rates from Fair Trading and Origin Energy.

The result from all this meddling in the Supreme Court was that the park operators handed over electricity billing to a third-party retailer, which they were required to do if they could not introduce systems required by law, ie effectively act as an energy retailer, with the requisite red tape if they chose to.

The retailer now engaged offered the standard rate if residents did nothing, or a discounted rate if residents signed a form. Residents could also have sought an alternative electricity retailer.

Did I get 50 per cent off as the person asserted? No, thanks to all the perceived injustices of those involved, I’m lucky if my bill is now under $70 per month. So much for ‘we won’.

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