Struggle to keep up with rising charges

NORTH Lambton couple Cameron and Jo Davis say they have done most of the things that authorities recommend they do to minimise their power use.

They and their three young sons, Kelly, 8, Cade, 5 and Harper, 2, live in a modest three-bedroom weatherboard and tile house.

They have insulated their ceilings, put in low-watt light globes and water-saving shower heads, and they switched their hot water and cooking to gas a couple of years ago.

But their energy costs have risen despite their efforts, and they are less than enthused about the higher charges that will come into effect from tomorrow.

For most Hunter families, electricity bills will rise by about 20 per cent and gas by nearly 15 per cent.

Newcastle council rates will rise by nearly 9 per cent and Lake Macquarie's increases are at least a percentage point higher.

Water bills will rise by about 4.5 per cent and taxi fares are going up by more than 3 per cent. Bus, train and ferry fares are also on their way up, but not until the new year.

Mr Davis, 34, a builder who struck out on his own nearly five years ago, said the carbon tax was resulting in price rises on all sorts of building materials.

"We got a letter saying frames and trusses were going up by 6 per cent and metal roofing and steel beams are on their way up also," Mr Davis said.

Mrs Davis, 34, manages the household finances and says that electricity, gas and water bills have risen substantially in recent years.

"The government makes out it's compensating everyone for price increases from the carbon tax but I don't think it's going to cover it all," Mrs Davis said.

"I'm not entirely convinced about climate change. I tend to think these things have been happening over the centuries but at the same time the way we are living must also contribute to the global situation."

The federal government says the new tax regime starting tomorrow will help large numbers of working families.

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