Will the Government’s one off Energy Assistance Payment really help you pay your next power bill?

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With an election looming, there is a lot weighing on April’s Federal budget as the Liberal Government pulls out all the stops to prevent the balance of power tipping in Labor’s favour.

Now I am not here writing this blog to sway you to vote one way or another. My parents taught me better than to talk politics in a social setting! I do, however, want to break down one area of the budget that is always contentious; measures to combat the rising cost of living.

When Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hands down his budget, four million Australians  will again receive a cash handout from the Federal Government to help cover the rising cost of energy bills.

This ‘one-off’ means-tested Energy Assistance Payment, worth $75 for singles and $125 for couples, will be delivered to age pensioners, people on the Disability Support Pension, veterans, carers and single parents before July.

Free money from the government? On face value, what’s not to love?? But I want to delve a little deeper…

This Government handout is designed to help ease the financial burden felt by those most vulnerable within our community due to the rising cost of living, specifically from energy bills. However as the Essential Services Commission recently reported, power prices jumped 16 per cent last financial year and more and more Victorians have been disconnected from their power companies as a result.

This begs the question; does the extra $1.45 a week that $75 payment equates to, really make a difference or ease the financial strain a single person is experiencing in today’s economic climate?

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I’ll let you make your own mind up!

While the Treasurer no doubt feels the pressure of the nation on his shoulders ahead of handing down his first budget, this ploy does make me wonder if he is thinking long term, or just trying to get himself (and his Government) over the line in the coming weeks (if you get my drift?).

Whether you agree with me (or the Government) is your prerogative, however at such a crucial time in our political landscape, it’s important that we don’t lose perspective on the things our elected politicians are saying, doing, and offering us!

I’m all for giving those who need it a helping hand, but I can’t help thinking we, along with the government, should be focussing on what we can do in the long term to make our homes more sustainable, prevent energy wastage, and help ease financial strain by reducing energy bills. Because ultimately, don’t we all want sustainable long-term prosperity rather than quick short-term fixes?

And that goes for all facets of the budget, not just those that impact our spending on energy bills.

By Craig Johnson, MD.

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