The energy crisis is now considered the single biggest issue facing Australia, according to new Roy Morgan research.
Just over 14 per cent of respondents from a pool of 595 Australians said the energy crisis was their greatest concern, deeming it more crucial than climate change and unemployment, which were the next two most often mentioned single issues, according to the research company.
Research this week by American Express also revealed that 55 per cent of Australian small business owners were concerned with rising energy costs above all else.
These results differ from last year’s results that showed business growth as the most important issue.
Energy prices have increased rapidly over the past year, and indicators show they will continue to rise, adding to the multi-million-dollar increases small businesses have already seen in their energy bills.
This issue has become an “existential threat” to Australia’s small businesses, Energy Efficiency Council head of policy Rob Murray-Leach told The Fifth Estate, and they must make substantial investments to reduce energy usage.
Replacing old technology with their modern and efficient counterparts is one step to help small businesses recover from surging energy bills, but companies already have 30 to 50 per cent of energy savings available to them, Mr Murray-Leach said – they just have to invest in energy efficiency.
For larger businesses, instead of energy efficiency being worked on from the sidelines, “now it’s actually an issue boards are discussing,” Mr Murray-Leach said.
Despite rising costs, small businesses are radically changing how they are procuring their energy, he said.
“The main point is that what we have seen is that boards are taking this problem more seriously, but there is no widespread investment in energy efficiency as of yet,” Mr Murray-Leach said
“We need to convert a deep level of concern into real action.”