22 June 2022

Probing the polls: transparency in government and paying the power bills

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Man installing solar panels

The ACT has been powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity since 2020. Photo: File.

Readers are closely divided on whether we should let the sunlight in on the Government’s decision-making process almost immediately.

The ACT Liberals want to open Cabinet papers to public scrutiny days rather than years after decisions have been made. The shorter timeframe has been legislated in New Zealand but is rare globally. It’s more common to restrict access for a decade or more.

Opponents say immediate accountability would be dangerous for good decision-making as politicians would be more likely to focus on voter sentiment rather than making tough choices.

We asked, Should the ACT release all cabinet papers within 30 days? A total of 785 people participated in our poll.

Your choices were to vote No, more cabinet decisions would be hamstrung by populism, and this received just under half the votes, with 38 per cent of the total, or 299 votes.

Alternatively, you could vote Yes, let the light shine in and hold them all to account. This received 62 per cent of the total or 486 votes.

This week, we’re wondering about the ACT’s electricity prices. Power shocks are reverberating around the country, but here in the ACT, prices won’t rise sharply because our renewable energy contracts have been locked in for the long term.

Canberrans will save an average of $23 a year on their electricity bills and the ACT is the only jurisdiction in the National Electricity Market where prices will decline in 2022-23, according to the ACT’s Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

Since 2012, the ACT has locked in deals with 10 energy generators around the country, paying them to generate renewable energy that feeds into the grid. The ACT does not purchase any energy that is generated from non-renewable sources.

However, last year, electricity prices increased by an average of $3.76 per week for a typical Canberra household due to a 36.91 per cent increase in network costs.

READ ALSO Canberrans will save on their electricity bills as prices soar around the country

Rich Fallon wondered, “how close does it go to reversing the increases from last year?”

James Daniels urged some perspective, “before we all go congratulating the ACT Government”.

“According to the article, last year’s ACT price increase was more than double the decrease we’re getting this year, and last year power prices in the rest of the country dropped. Whether we’re better off overall is yet to be seen,” James wrote.

Bryce Undy approved of the ACT’s strategy, writing: “Good news. Evidence that the likes of Matt Canavan don’t have a clue what they are talking about.”

JeeKay Dee said of the commenters, “Typical Canberrans. Gets a reduction to their bills, still not good enough. The entitlement is so strong in this town.”

Our poll question this week is:

Do you support the ACT’s renewable energy commitment?

View Results

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