WA families face at least a $129-a-year increase to their annual government fees and charges, with power charges set to go up by about another 2 per cent from July 1.
Informed sources revealed yesterday West Australians should brace themselves for about a 2 per cent power hike this year, meaning families can expect to pay about $1879 a year in power bills — a $36 increase on last year.
This would mean power bills would have gone up by about 20 per cent since Mark McGowan won government just two years ago.
It’s understood Premier McGowan and Treasurer Ben Wyatt have resisted calls for a freeze on power bills in the May 9 State Budget.
The State Opposition yesterday released its annual pre-Budget analysis on household expenses — normally an accurate indicator of what is in store for WA families in the yearly Budget. Its data shows a normal household will pay more than $6500 a year in utility charges come July 1.
A Treasury forecast 2.5 per cent increase in water charges next financial year would see those bills go up by about $45 a year.
A multibillion-dollar GST windfall has seen the McGowan Government abandon this year’s forecast 5.6 per cent hike in power bills, instead going for an increase closer to the rate of inflation, 2 per cent. Still, both Federal and State Liberals say the increases are still too much.
Just last week, the Economic Regulation Authority released a report which showed the rate of disconnections in Western Australia had more than doubled over the past two years, reaching a six-year-high of 1.91 per cent.
According to the ERA, WA had a higher rate of disconnections than New South Wales, South Australia or Victoria.
“The annual average increase to household fees and charges will still be $129 — or $868 more per annum than when the McGowan Government was elected — if Treasurer Ben Wyatt increases power by 2 per cent in next month’s State Budget,” shadow treasurer Dean Nalder said yesterday.
Cost of living pressures is a major issue in WA, headlined by a more than 100 per cent increase in electricity charges since 2008. Power bills have already gone up about 18 per cent in the McGowan Government’s first two budgets.
Last week, Pearce MP and Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter — a former WA treasurer — called on the McGowan Government to freeze cost of living increases in the May 9 Budget. That is a position Mr McGowan has so far refused to take.
WA Council of Social Service chief executive Louise Giolitto has also previously called for electricity and water charges to be frozen for battlers. She is now calling for a review of concessions for the nation’s strugglers in order for them to be able to pay their bills.