Activist group GetUp! should declare its commercial interest in the retail electricity market when it advocates against businesses with which it is in a rival commercial relationship, the Australian Energy Council said today.
GetUp! has a commercial relationship with energy retailer Powershop and receives revenue for every customer who switches away from a major retailer.
The Australian Energy Council’s chief executive, Matthew Warren said, “Like any organisation or individual, GetUp! has the right to advocate on energy policy issues.
“However, like the businesses or organisations it seeks to hold to account, it also has a responsibility to be transparent, given its profitable commercial relationship with a major competitor of the businesses it criticises.
“GetUp! campaigns to get electricity customers to switch away from AGL, Origin and EnergyAustralia to Powershop, a competitor business. In return it receives a commission for customers who switch. Its recently released report, ‘Australia’s retail electricity markets: who is serving whom?’ singled out AGL, Origin and EnergyAustralia, without disclosing the commercial incentive it has to encourage customers to switch away from those businesses.
“We have serious concerns about the credibility of the findings of the report given, for example, that it does not appear to have fully taken into account discounts offered by retailers in competitive markets, which in NSW and Victoria range from 15-35 per cent.
“We are also concerned that a group that presents itself as a neutral commentator on issues, clearly is not.
“Activism has an important role to play in society. Most activist groups eschew commercial links for the very reason that it compromises their integrity and confidence in the authenticity of their campaigns.
“In this instance, GetUp! has failed to declare its vested interest in the electricity retail market through its commercial arrangement with Powershop.”
About the Australian Energy Council
The Council represents 22 major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses operating in competitive wholesale and retail energy markets. These businesses collectively generate the overwhelming majority of electricity in Australia and sell gas and electricity to over 10 million homes and businesses.
Media contact Carl Kitchen 0401 69134
The Australian Energy Council has welcomed the release of the Energy Security Board's options paper,which is the result of a substantial consultation process.
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