Western Australian Premier needs Liberal principles to lead competitive electricity markets

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett has said the State's electricity market is one of the smallest in the world and retail competition for households isn't needed and is planning to reverse competitive reforms and remerge two Government-owned energy utilities.

The Sustainable Energy Association of Australia refutes the suggestion by Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett who has been reported as saying that WA's electricity market is one of the smallest in the world and retail competition for households "isn't needed and won't work."

‘Monopoly operations anywhere are a barrier to developing a free market with competitive pricing,' says Professor Ray Wills, Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA).

'It is extremely disappointing that a Liberal Premier appears not to understand the Liberal principles of a free market benefiting the consumer,' says Prof Wills.

The WA Liberal Party website in its "Statement of Beliefs" spells out: "ln the creation of wealth and in competitive enterprise, consumer choice and reward for effort as the Proven means of providing prosperity for all Australians."

'If the Premier truly believes re-aggregation and monopolies deliver the best outcome in public service delivery for customers in the small market of Western Australia, then he should also end private operation of all other public service delivery. But first, perhaps he should move a motion to amend the Constitution of the Liberal Party of Australia.'

‘Energy market reforms leading to the disaggregation of Western Power in 2006 were strongly supported by industry to create a competitive market, and those reforms are not yet complete," says Prof. Wills.

‘On-going electricity price reform is eliminating mechanisms that led to subsidies for the use of fossil fuel in the generation of electricity, and an absence of cost reflective pricing that has perversely inhibited the take up of renewable energy in Western Australia,' Prof. Wills

‘Keeping Synergy and Verve as separate entities is a key reform that must not be reversed, with further reforms that encourage new business to enter a competitive market to supply Western Australia's energy needs.'

‘If the Premier was to carry out a remerger of Verve and Synergy, the likely outcome will be to re-establish barriers to market entry and be a disincentive for private sector investment in Western Australia's energy markets.'

'The best path forward is to promote future market diversity and so both security for WA energy supplies and more competitive pricing,' says Prof. Wills.

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