The State Liberals have released Treasury documents obtained under Freedom of Information showing that almost 35,000 South Australians have been unable to pay their ESL tax in the last year.
"The Weatherill Government’s massive increase in the ESL tax has seen the number of people referred to RevenueSA’s Debt Management Services surge by 40 per cent in the past year," said State Liberal Leader Steven Marshall.
"The Weatherill Government’s massive ESL tax hike has created a new cost of living pressure for struggling South Australia families and these figures show tens of thousands are unable to cope.
"The Weatherill Government has instructed RevenueSA debt collectors to recover $11,233, 682 from the 35,000 South Australians who can’t pay – at an average of $320 per debt.
"In 2014 – prior to the savage increases in the ESL – RevenueSA was chasing $5,448,866 from 25,116 taxpayers at an average of $217 per debt.
"The ESL has joined electricity prices, water prices and council rates as a principal cost of living pressure on the family budget.
"Indeed the number of people falling into debt over their ESL bills has almost reached the number of South Australians who accumulated electricity debts in 2014.
"Equally alarming is the fact that the $320 average debt created by the massive increase in the ESL has surged past the $287 in debts owed on average to gas retailers.
"The Weatherill Government’s savage increase in the tax revenue it collects from the ESL has plundered household budgets at the very moment South Australia was plunging into an unemployment crisis.
"With many South Australians already struggling, the Weatherill Labor Government’s savage ESL increase is completely unjustified and another hit to South Australians’ hip-pockets.
"To restore confidence in the South Australian economy the Weatherill Government needs to adopt Liberal policy and reverse its savage increases in the ESL tax."