Energy bonus worth $250 going begging in regions and among wealthy Bayside residents

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Key points

  • The district of Macedon has the lowest take-up of the rebate.
  • To be eligible for the $250, account holders must visit the state government’s energy comparison website.
  • Premier Daniel Andrews hasn’t ruled out additional rebates.

The Victorian electorates with the lowest take-up of Premier Daniel Andrews’ signature cost-of-living power rebate are most likely to be in regional areas or Melbourne’s high-income suburbs.

In contrast, of the 20 electorates with the largest number of applications for the $250 power saving bonus, all but one are within Greater Melbourne. Most of these are in traditionally lower-income areas.

Power bill relief was a key pillar of Premier Daniel Andrews’ re-election pitch. Credit: Eddie Jim

The findings come from an official list of applications following the state government’s fourth rebate round, broken down by electorate.

The district of Macedon, north-west of Melbourne, has the lowest take-up of the rebate in the state, with 8047 applications. That seat is held by Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas and takes in the towns of Daylesford, Kyneton, Woodend and Hepburn Springs.

Other electorates with fewer than 10,000 applications include Benambra, in north-east Victoria, held by Liberal Bill Tilley; Polwarth in the Otways, held by Liberal Richard Riordan; and Murray Plains in the state’s far north, held by Nationals leader Peter Walsh.

The list also includes suburbs such as Brighton and Sandringham, which have among the highest median incomes in Victoria. The median income for a resident of the Bayside council area in the 2019-20 financial year was $64,000, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data. Meanwhile, the median income in Daylesford was $47,222, and the state median income was $52,000.

In the electorate of Melbourne, 24,104 households had applied for the power saving bonus as of this month. Kalkallo, on Greater Melbourne’s northern fringe, and Werribee and Laverton in the city’s west, rounded out the four electorates with the highest take-up of the rebate.

In Melton, the median income was $53,913, according to the ABS. That compared with $61,324 for the City of Melbourne.

The median income for a Melburnian was $53,000 in the 2019-20 financial year, while it was $47,895 for those living in the regions.

The government’s power saving scheme allows households to apply for a $250 rebate to help with rising energy bills. There have been four iterations so far.

To be eligible, account holders must visit the state government’s energy comparison website or engage with a community outreach service. Only one payment is available per household for each round of the program.

More than 1 million Victorians have applied for the fourth round of the bonus since it was unveiled last month. So far more than 820,000 households have received a payout.

The latest cycle has resulted in 40 per cent of applicants finding a better energy deal, according to the government, at a cost to the budget bottom line of more than $200 million.

A government spokeswoman said the overall uptake of the power saving bonus in the regions was in line with the state’s general population distribution. About a quarter of Victorians live in the regions.

“We encourage all Victorians to apply [for the rebate] now and make sure they are on the best energy deal before winter,” the spokeswoman said.

As for what the government is doing to boost requests in specific rural and regional electorates that are lagging behind, the spokeswoman said: “We’re running advertising in regional media outlets across the state including print and radio, along with digital roadside ads in some areas.”

Premier Daniel Andrews hasn’t ruled out additional rebates despite the fact his government is expected to slash spending in next month’s budget because of record debt levels.

“I think the need for this program, and the fact that we’ve got 1 million people who have taken it up, does speak … to the fact that a lot of families are doing it tough,” the premier said last week.

“You can rest assured that we’ll look, subject to budget issues … to try and provide further support in the future as well.”

Victorians have until the end of August to apply for the latest power saving bonus.

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