The number of West Australians seeking help from the National Debt Helpline surged in the December quarter, compounding concerns about flagged increases in utility fees and charges in this year’s state budget.
Calls to the helpline from WA jumped by 67.8 per cent during the last three months of 2018, compared to the same corresponding period.
WA accounted for 21 per cent of calls nationally, while the state represents only 10.3 per cent of the Australian population.
“This is what happens when a government whacks households with an average $700 per year increase in fees and charges, and promises more increases in this year’s budget,” opposition community services spokeswoman Alyssa Hayden said on Tuesday.
“Wage growth is flat and unemployment is the highest in the country but the McGowan government is promising to pile more on WA families by promising more increases in electricity, water and car registration costs.”
Handing down WA’s mid-year economic review in December, Treasurer Ben Wyatt said the state government sought to make power price increases next financial year “lower than we’re currently budgeting for” but would not commit to capping them at inflation.
Previous big hikes in households fees and charges have been used to repair the state’s debt-laden budget.
Most calls to the helpline – 25 per cent – came from NSW, which is home to almost 32 per cent of the nation’s population.