FARMERS says the patience of the community has been exhausted with governments which refuse to rein in the big profits of power companies.
CANEGROWERS chief executive officer Dan Galligan said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report released today has found that power prices across Australia have risen 60 per cent in the past decade. However, for CANEGROWERS members and other irrigators the rises have risen 130pc.
“The ACCC has backed up what we have been saying for years,” Mr Galligan said.
“These rises and their terrible toll on the profitability of farms are principally driven by the gold plating of power network, the lack of effective retail competition and failing regulatory arrangements.
“They have nothing to do with the actual costs of generating and supplying electricity.
“This has to stop now. Electricity prices must be reduced.”
Mr Galligan said power companies had passed on the costs of their over-investment in poles and wires to consumers and successive Queensland Governments have reaped the benefit, through dividends, to the tune of $1.5 billion each year.
“The ACCC’s is the latest investigation to blow the whistle on this hidden tax being paid by all of us, households and businesses,” Mr Galligan said.
“At the next elections, state and federal, we will all be watching closely to see who is going to call a halt on this.”
Mr Galligan said CANEGROWERS had a five point plan to fix power prices for irrigators. The sugarcane farmers’ organisation is urging all political parties lining up for the next Queensland election to commit to:
- Optimise the regulated asset base and require Energy Queensland to take responsibility for its management decisions.
- Remove hidden taxes from Energy Queensland’s cost structure.
- Redesign the network tariff system to ensure irrigators are not paying for congestion costs caused by other consumers.
- Reinstate local distribution grids.
- Require Ergon to re-submit a tariff proposal that contains fair pricing for Queenslanders.
LNP Leader Tim Nicholls said the ACCC report made for sober reading and laid bare Annastacia Palaszczuk’s complete and utter failure when it came to electricity prices.
“The cat is well and truly out of the bag now. No amount of Labor spin or lies can gloss over the cold, hard fact that Queenslanders are being ripped off blind by through their electricity bills,” Mr Nicholls said.
“It is a tale of two Annas – Bligh who gold-plated the network and Palaszczuk who has gone even further with her extreme green schemes, her secret power tax and union-friendly pay deal for electricity workers, all of which have resulted in record high electricity prices.”
Mr Nicholls said all Annastacia Palaszczuk had done for Queenslanders was deliver them record high electricity prices.
Mr Nicholls said the ACCC report also confirmed that Queenslanders were paying more for green schemes than other states yet we had the lowest amount of renewable energy.
“Queenslanders would be shocked to learn they are paying for Labor’s ideologically-driven green schemes put in place to win inner-city votes whether they like it or not,” he said.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk and Labor have put ideology and idiocy first rather than reliability and affordability and Queensland families and businesses are paying for it.
“All of Labor’s policies are increasing electricity prices, whether it’s the 3pc wage increase for electricity workers - more than teachers, nurses and ambulance officers - the headlong rush to a 50pc renewable energy target, or allowing energy executives to rip-off Queenslanders.”
Energy Minister Mark Bailey said the Palaszczuk Government was using continued public ownership of the electricity businesses to apply maximum downward pressure on electricity prices.
“Under the Palaszczuk Government, the annual average increase in retail electricity prices has been limited to 1.9pc a year annum,” Mr Bailey said.
“The ACCC report found that average electricity price from 2016 to 2017 in Queensland was the lowest of any mainland state in Australia at 4pc. The increases over the same period were up to 10pc in Victoria, up to 19pc in South Australia, up to 20pc in NSW, and up to 21pc in the Australian Capital Territory.”
“In terms of electricity price relief, the Palaszczuk has increased the rebate to $340.85 per year and expanded its availability from eligible pensioners and seniors to include more than 150,000 Commonwealth Health Care card holders.
“The Palaszczuk Government is determined to put continued downward pressure on electricity prices. We note the ACCC’s concern about the behaviour of retailers and charging well above the regulated rate for electricity."
The story Canegrowers: Power price fix within reach… if governments are willing first appeared on Queensland Country Life.