Things might be getting tough for most of us, but it’s a good time to be an energy capitalist. Energy distributors have scored billions in extra profits due to regulatory loopholes and are set to make even more in the months and years to come.
In New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and south-east Queensland, energy networks have made super-profits 67 percent higher than “normal profits” in the last eight years, according to data from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
These distributors have monopoly control over patches of infrastructure, so regulators are supposed to prevent them from price gouging. IEEFA researcher Simon Orme calculates that, by overestimating operating costs and charging customers based on the exaggerated figures, energy companies have managed to squeeze an additional $10 billion on top of the $15 billion in “normal profits” that they would have made.
Orme estimates that this super-profit loophole will be responsible for between 15 and 30 percent of the coming energy price hikes for most of Australia’s east coast.
While the energy companies were raking it in, more than a quarter of households—including nearly half of renters—struggled to pay their skyrocketing bills, according to research published by the Australian Energy Regulator last August. Another 37 percent anticipate difficulties paying bills in the next few years. Only 2 percent of households were not at all concerned by electricity prices.
You can get a sense of the cost-of-living crisis from how households are planning to cut back on energy usage and spending. Respondents to the AER survey said that they plan to “eat less”, “[sit] in cold, dark rooms”, “wash less” and “freeze” to deal with energy costs.
And the price hikes just keep coming. Power bills across the east coast of Australia are expected to increase by around 20-24 percent on average from July.
“You’re just a performing fucking monkey”. A racist barb, and one of many pointed moments in Jacky, a Melbourne Theatre Company production currently playing at the Arts Centre. Jacky is about the politics of performing monkeys. It is about racism and exploitation, hypocrisy and resistance.
Academic workers at Rutgers University in New Jersey have achieved a stunning victory with a serious campaign of industrial action, centred on an open-ended strike. Their approach is a model for unionists in Australia.
The South Australian government has followed New South Wales and Victoria to undermine democratic rights. A bi-partisan bill has been rushed through parliament’s lower house, which proposes fines up to $50,000 or three months in jail if protesters “intentionally or recklessly obstruct the public place”.
NTEU Fightback, a rank-and-file union group of the National Tertiary Education Union at the University of Sydney, is calling on staff to vote No in the upcoming ballot on the proposed enterprise agreement. The campaign was launched at a forum on 25 May, attended by over 50 people. A members’ meeting on 13 June will consider the agreement. This week will probably be the first time that members are provided with a full list of proposed changes to our working conditions.
A recent NBC News poll found that 70 percent of US voters don’t want Joe Biden to recontest the presidency next year. Sixty percent feel likewise about Donald Trump. Yet the two men are currently odds-on to face each other in a 2024 re-run of the 2020 presidential election.
Allyship presents itself as a way that people can show support for the rights of an oppressed group that they themselves are not a part of without “taking the space” of those who are oppressed. Marxists, conversely, argue that solidarity is the key way we can win reforms for, and ultimately liberate, the oppressed. Allyship and solidarity might sound like much the same thing, but there are important differences in these strategies for social change.