The Department of Primary Industries’ latest advertisements on radio and in major and local Victorian newspapers appears to be scraping the bottom of the barrel in its attempt to ‘sell’ smart meters to Victorians.
In an advertising blitz estimated to cost hundreds of thousands of our taxpayers’ dollars, it is obvious that consumer resistance to smart meters is causing problems for the Baillieu Government.
Stating that ‘the greatest benefits to consumers will be delivered if the roll out continues” conveniently glosses over a number of issues. Deloitte, the latest firm to undertake a cost benefit analysis on behalf of the government, concluded in August of last year that the roll out of smart meters will now result in an overall net COST to consumers of $319 million dollars. Earlier studies at least had a net benefit in their sights. Less than half way through the roll out, the cost has now blown out by almost $2.5 billion, and is still rising! In January 2012 alone, the power companies won court cases allowing them to add another $300,000,000 to the customers’ bills over the next couple of years.
The only way Deloitte was able to conjure up a net benefit to consumers if the roll out continued was by ignoring the massive costs that had already been sunk into the project (which we’ve all been paying for since the beginning of 2010). But the analysis was only geared at identifying costs and benefits to electricity customers, stating that most of the other costs associated with the roll out are passed on to taxpayers. Duuh…aren’t electricity customers also taxpayers?
In addition, how much tax-funded money actually has been budgeted to provide us with expensive glossy flyers and newsprint advertising packed with deceptive statements? What would the supposed net benefit of continuing with the roll out be for consumers if these costs were included? And nowhere in the ‘costs’ to consumers has any provision been made for adverse health outcomes.
And what exactly are these wondrous benefits the advertisements pronounce that are going to benefit consumers? Why, goodness gracious, the government is going to use taxpayers’ money to provide us with subsidies so we can purchase in-home displays. And what exactly do ‘in-home displays’ do, besides zapping microwaves between household appliances and the in-home display, so we can better irradiate ourselves and our neighbours in the privacy of our own homes? They enable us to more precisely track our energy use when we run our fridges, washing machines and TVs.
Does the government really imagine that we are so stupid that we haven’t made the connection between switching on appliances and our resulting electricity bill?
And whoop-de-doo, the ‘major’ changes are also going to include tighter energy cost controls. Exactly how is the government going to control the growing costs to the community of what appears to be an escalating health crisis? Unfortunately the health standards which the government so reassuringly advises us are being met are ten years old and viewed by a number of scientists as obsolete. And the question arises, why weren’t health issues included in the review? Was the Government afraid of the outcome?
The Victorian Auditor-General’s recommendations (made in 2009) pointed to “emerging risks”. Exactly how does completely ignoring the emerging risks of radio frequency radiation on Victorians lead to accurate financial figures? And how does ignoring government, taxpayer-funded costs of the smart meter roll out lead to accurate figures? And how does sweeping aside consumers’ concerns with sham investigations address consumer issues?
All we hear is silence….