• Max Bradford

The Coalition Government wants to see electricity bills come down for all New Zealanders, particularly householders and small businesses, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Winston Peters and Energy Minister Max Bradford said today.

"Over the past several years, the wholesale price of electricity has fallen significantly but the bulk of these savings have not been passed on to consumers by their local power company," the Ministers said.

In recent weeks, some power companies have run an eleventh-hour public relations campaign to worry consumers and confuse people into thinking the Government's reform package will put up their electricity bills. "This is nonsense," the Ministers said.

"New Zealand First's concerns about possible abuse by monopoly lines companies has been addressed. Consequently, the Government will be including powers in the legislation to regulate line prices to domestic, including rural, consumers."

The Ministers said the reform package has one underlying theme: a better deal for all consumers - which means lower power prices and choice.

"Great strides have been made in the past few years by electricity generators and power companies, but there is still no effective competition.

"Just think of the way phone call toll prices, petrol prices and airfares have come tumbling down - all because of competition introduced into these markets. This is what the Government wants to see happen in the electricity industry."

The Ministers said that many other countries are also focusing on bringing down the price of electricity, just as we are.

"New Zealand simply cannot afford to be left behind - to allow that to happen would be unfair to ordinary householders and disastrous for our exporters who need the lowest business costs possible to compete internationally."

To assist people understand the reforms, a pamphlet will be distributed to a number of householders and businesses, and will be made available through Citizens Advice Bureaux and Public Libraries.

"The pamphlet provides both a simple explanation of the reforms, and more detail," the Ministers said. "Electricity is a complex industry, but it is important for people to understand the reforms."

Note: The pamphlet is being delivered to Parliamentary Press Gallery journalists.