A self-styled “income acceleration coach” claims the Labor government sent debt collection letters to 12,000 Queenslanders who couldn’t pay their energy bills.
The claim is false. It is true that around 12,000 electricity customers in Queensland were referred to debt collectors in the third quarter of 2022-23, according to official data from Australia’s energy market regulator.
But the debt referrals were made by energy companies, not the government.
“Just this week, the Labor party sent out 12,000 debt collectors letters,” Mr Mesiti said (video mark 19sec).
Mr Mesiti repeats the claim later in the video, saying: “12,000 homes that could not pay their electricity bill, their energy bill, were sent legal letters of demand by your own government” (video mark 1min 3sec).
Mr Mesiti appears to be referring to the federal government and at one point suggests Energy Minister Chris Bowen is responsible for the letters.
“Now let me get back to Mr Bowen… send out (sic) 12,000 debt collectors. I told you, they’re coming for you,” Mr Mesiti says in the video (video mark 10min 12sec).
But the government was not involved in either the debt collection referrals or the resulting letters.
The figures used by Mr Mesiti come from a quarterly retail energy market report by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), an independent federal government authority operating within the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
In a dataset accompanying the report, the AER breaks down the number of debt collection referrals issued by each energy company (see ‘Credit Collection’ tab).
The data shows Queensland's biggest electricity suppliers were responsible for the vast majority of debt recovery referrals.
Origin Energy referred 5053 of its retail electricity customers to debt collection agencies during the quarter, Ergon Energy referred 2686 customers, Alinta referred 1311 customers and AGL referred 1139 customers.
Around 1200 retail gas accounts in Queensland were referred to debt collection agencies during Q3 2022-2023 (Credit Collection tab, cell BW147).
Across Australia, a total of 40,991 retail electricity accounts and 9979 retail gas accounts were referred to external debt collection agencies during that period (Credit Collection tab, cells AH48 and BW48).
The AER report makes it clear the referrals were made by retail energy companies, not the government.
This was confirmed by an AER representative in a statement to AAP FactCheck.
The representative said guidelines set out that energy retailers are required to submit to the AER the number of customers they have referred to an external credit collection agency.
"Retailers are the only entity that can refer a customer to an external credit collection agency," the representative added.
Media reports about the debt collection also say the letters were sent by power companies.
On June 29, for example, the day after the AER report was published, the Courier Mail newspaper reported that: "Energy companies have sent debt collectors to more than 12,000 Queensland households in the first three months of the year."
It's not the first time Mr Mesiti has shared inaccurate information on his Facebook page.
The claim the government sent debt collection notices to 12,000 Queenslanders who couldn't pay their energy bills is false.
Around 12,000 retail electricity customers in Queensland were referred to debt collection agencies in quarter three of the financial year 2022-23, according to official data. But the referrals were made by energy companies, not by the government.
False - The claim is inaccurate.