Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens' Leader
After three and a half years paying lip service to cost of living pressure, the Liberals’ announcement of a $150 one-off payment to aged pensioners is a cynical attempt to buy votes.
Many older Tasmanians, like so many disadvantaged households, have challenges paying their electricity bills, which is why Tasmania has long had a concessions scheme in place.
The new Energy Minister, Guy Barnett, claimed he would put Tasmanians first, but he’s left them in the cold all Winter and is handing out cash in the last remaining months of this term.
It’s no coincidence the $150 pensioner payout looks a lot like the $110 increase in the electricity component of the average Tasmanian household power bill, ordered by the Treasurer, when he set this year’s regulated Wholesale Electricity Price.
The Liberals’ claim that these payments are as a result of an unexpected windfall is highly misleading. This is attempted bribery, a one off payment to older Tasmanians who need genuine cost of living support that lasts.
Earlier this year, the Liberals released the Tasmanian Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme, which is simply a Westpac Credit Card that will leave low income Tasmanians exposed to high interest rates if they can’t repay their credit card debt within three years.
The best way to deliver immediate genuine, sustained cost of living relief to low income Tasmanians is through the free roll out of energy efficiency upgrades as the Labor Green government did between 2010-2014.