#WTF Australia? Push for real solution to energy prices

THE full extent of concern about power prices has been laid bare for the first time as part of a push to get real people involved in solving the crisis.

A new national survey reveals the cost of energy has emerged as both the leading cause of budget stress and the most pressing political issue facing the nation.

The survey also shows that households don't trust energy retailers - blaming them the most for high prices - or have confidence that politicians can fix the problem.

The non-profit behind the research, the Australian Futures Project, says while the findings are disturbing they show there is untapped potential to convert the community's dissatisfaction into action. Today it launches "#WTF: What's the Future, Australia?" - a push to get real people involved in tackling the country's crunch topics.

"What we are trying to do is give the public an opportunity to have a say not only on what the issues are, but to get better informed and suggest solutions," said Australian Futures Project executive director Ralph Ashton.

Tomorrow a panel of energy experts it has assembled will answer your questions via Facebook, Twitter or SMS plus field ideas to fix the problem. The best solution will receive a $500 cash prize. Three more pressing topics will be thrashed out in subsequent weeks then the top idea on each will be taken from concept to reality - and you can vote on which you like best.

Jump onto social and follow the #WTF hashtag - or check out the website at www.wtf.org.au

One of the energy panellists, Grattan Institute fellow David Blowers said it was time to take politics out of the issue.

"Any opportunity we have to provide better information to people and explain things more clearly is going to be really helpful," Mr Blowers said.

The Galaxy Research poll run for the Australian Futures Project found power bills were putting pressure on 70 per cent of households. The next biggest source of financial stress was food costs.

Thirty-nine per cent of respondents considered electricity retailers most to blame for high prices ahead of the Federal Government on 23 per cent. The vast majority of those surveyed reported taking multiple measures to cut their energy usage. Eighty-one per cent said the motivation was saving money versus 17 per cent who said it was improving the environment. This was even the case among Green voters.

Galaxy surveyed 1515 adults across nation then weighted the results to reflect the Australian population.

#WTF is backed by groups including the Australian Council of Social Service, which advocates for reduced poverty and inequality, as well as the Business Council of Australia, which represents the largest companies in the country.