The Australian Energy Council has shared concerns over new rules aimed at protecting Victorian consumers, which it says fails to address consumer concerns about rising energy bills.

The Australian Energy Council’s Chief Executive, Sarah McNamara, said measures announced by Victorian Labor to block direct marketing practices such as door-knocking have occurred without any industry consultation or objective cost-benefit analysis.

“Door-to-door selling is not exclusively used in the energy market, and governments need to be sure any changes are in the public interest,” Ms McNamara said.

“Banning smaller energy retailers from reaching new customers will only entrench concentration at the top end of the retail market. Smaller retailers may go out of business, and we will lose Victorian jobs to other states that foster competitive practices instead of stifling them.

“The industry is always open to a discussion with governments about how best to market to consumers. But these measures, introduced without any assessment of the impact on Victorian consumers or businesses, are draconian and bring unintended consequences.”  

The Australian Energy Council said that an uncompetitive energy market means higher prices and less innovation and, if implemented, these measures will:

  • Not capture solar providers, who regularly sell deals to consumers via unsolicited door  knocking and telemarketing. Their practices will continue unchanged
  • Put in place fines for wrongful disconnection that are grossly disproportionate and mean that one breach could put a small retailer out of business
  • Restrict retailers from back-billing even in circumstances where they have been delayed by a failure of networks to provide them with the necessary data to do so.

“The energy industry knows that customers have been doing it tough,” Ms McNamara said.

“But retail costs have been high in Victoria because there are cost pressures on all parts of the supply chain. Constraining the energy industry from communicating cheap deals to Victorians makes no sense.

“Victorian energy consumers deserve policy announcements backed by evidence so that we can be confident that there is an actual benefit to consumers.” 

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