Five ways the new government could help you to combat rising cost of living

Have we ever seen a federal election campaign with so many mentions of the rising cost of living, yet so few answers on how to combat it?

The prevailing sentiment appears to be that governments can’t do much. However, that’s just not true.

Sure, the incoming labor government cannot fix global supply chain tangles created by the pandemic and the economic rebound. Nor can it end inflationary pressures resulting from the war in Ukraine.

However, it can – and should – promote and implement good policies to help us to help ourselves to combat rising household costs.

It could do that in three ways: regulate pricing; create new tools to help us save money; and give a leg up to industries or products that could put more cash in our pockets.

Here are five things the new federal government could do to help us fight the rising cost of living.

Solar energy for renters

For the home-owning early adopters of solar electricity, who were paid handsomely by state governments to kickstart the industry more than a decade ago, soaring power bills now appear to be somebody else’s problem.

However, for about one-third of the population – mostly renters and apartment dwellers – free power from the sun remains off-limits.

We have had a long period of time to solve this problem and done almost nothing.

The new government needs to own this mess and put up some cash to accelerate trials of solar gardens, solar banks, community batteries and other ideas to accelerate access to solar power for all Australians.

National fuel-price app

In NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, NT and WA, drivers can check an app to see which petrol retailer has the cheapest fuel because state governments have mandated price transparency. SA is getting around to following suit, but Victoria has inexplicably held out.

Transparency drives competition, which keeps prices lower than they would otherwise be, so let’s build a national federal government app similar to the states – then tell everyone about it.

Just one-in-five drivers use these petrol price apps and, with some government backing and promotion, it could be four in five.

Rethink fuel taxes

We are at a tipping point, thanks to rising petrol prices, where the uptake of electric vehicles will likely accelerate once they are easier to buy. The only thing holding back this transition is a sputtering global supply chain.

Wealthier drivers will likely make the switch to electric vehicles first, as they still cost more than petrol-powered cars. But not for long.

So, let’s stop taxing road users 44¢ for every litre of petrol or diesel, and reform road user charges so that they are not primarily directed at those who cannot afford to go electric.

Let’s rethink how we tax road users.

Energy switching websites

We have world-class websites built to promote switching energy providers to get the cheapest prices in the market. Why doesn’t the government tell everyone about them?

State and federal governments have built outstanding comparison websites for energy customers – and . They can even read your last email energy bill and compare it to all the other offers on the market, in price order.

Last year, 2. 3 million people used the . In the five years before that, a separate NSW government site helped people switch 20,000 energy households to a cheaper provider.

However, our new federal government should set a goal of 10 million visits a year to these sites – and then work out what is needed to achieve it.

Millions of people do not know these comparison websites exist, and are missing out on much-needed savings.

The Victorian government will offer householders $250 just to visit their from July, which could well be a game-changer. Also, from July 1, every power bill will point people to these energy saving websites.

National insurance comparison tool

There is no good reason why – despite what the insurance industry tells us – you cannot compare every insurance policy in the country on a single website, with the price and basic features displayed.

It exists for electricity, mortgages, telco products and petrol.

It is now time for the insurance industry to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.

Joel Gibson is the author of . Catch his money saving segments on , and on Twitter .

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