Queensland seniors are calling on candidates of major political parties to re-regulate electricity prices if they win the 25 November state election.
National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said the promise that deregulation of the electricity markets would deliver cheaper prices had been replaced with the reality of sharply rising costs. This had left people on low, fixed incomes with little choice but to cut back their electricity use to avoid bill shock.
Older people had been hit particularly hard as many found it difficult to shop around to get a better price.
“In some instances, older consumers are worse off because the terms and conditions of market offers are confusing, misleading or difficult to compare,” Mr Henschke said.
“National Seniors believes that a regulated price would reduce the risk of vulnerable older Queenslanders paying more for their electricity than they should.”
National Seniors also wants the gas rebate to apply to all consumers in south-east Queensland, including those who rely on bottled LPG.
“Right now, consumers who rely on bottled LPG to heat water, cook food and heat their homedon’t have access to a rebate,” he said.
Such a move would bring Queensland into line with other states such as New South Wales, where there is a rebate for concession holders who use LPG.
Also in keeping with similar measures offered in other states would be a one-off stamp duty concession or exemption for all seniors wanting to ‘rightsize’ their home to one more suited to their needs.
“A downsizing rebate is available in the Northern Territory, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory,” Mr Henscke said.
“National Seniors believe that a stamp duty concession in Queensland would assist older people to downsize and create wider social and economic benefits for the state.”
National Seniors has also called for a better deal for seniors living in rural and regional areas who needed to travel to major centres for medical assessment and treatment.
Currently, there is a requirement that individuals cannot access the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme until they have been away from home for four nights in a single year.
“This leads to significant out of pocket costs to receive the same level of public health care as those living in major cities,” Mr Henschke said.
National Seniors also wants better funding of measures to combat elder abuse and implementation of recommendations made by recent inquiries.
And with nearly half the state’s voters aged 50 and over, there was also a strong case to retain a dedicated Minister for Seniors to ensure their concerns were not ignored, Mr Henschke said.
“It is vital that a Minister for Seniors continues to act as a voice for seniors within government,” he said.
To read all of National Seniors’ election priorities, click here.