LNP angry about community group's struggle with power costs
WITH rising power prices hurting local community organisations, LNP politicians have called for more to be done to help.
After listening to concerns aired by local community groups and seeing North Rockhampton Bowls Club citing power prices for closing, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and Gregory MP Lachlan Millar directed the blame at the Queensland Government.
Our community and volunteer organisations are an integral thread in the fabric of Central Queensland, we really wouldn't be without them.,” Ms Landry said.
"It is just terrible though to hear just how tough they are doing it because of rising costs, especially for electricity.
"Not only are local businesses and household budgets getting chewed up by power prices, so too are our local volunteer organisations.”
She said the State Government was ripping billions out of the pockets of good, honest Queenslanders who just want to help make the state a better place.
"Where is all the money going that these electricity companies are making? It's certainly not going back into infrastructure, businesses or struggling families,” she said.
Ms Landry suggested charging an alternative tariff for community organisations and offering a special schedule for sectors such as agriculture - to help with water pumping - and manufacturing.
Mr Millar blamed former Labor governments for "gold plating infrastructure”, "ripping billions” in dividends out of Ergon and not putting the money towards cutting prices.
He called for greater competition in the regional energy sector, said Queensland didn't have enough base-load power and threw his support behind constructing new coal-fired power stations.
"Year on year, Central Queenslanders are receiving larger and larger electricity bills and it's pushing many people to the brink” Mr Millar said.
"But these power prices aren't just affecting mum's and dad's hip pockets. The ones copping the brunt of these increases are local community groups and sporting clubs.
"These groups, reliant on hard-working volunteers, are getting hit by increase after increase on their power bills.”
Minister for Energy Dr Anthony Lynham hit back, saying the Federal Government had failed to offer a clear direction while fighting internally, chopping and changing leaders and policy, whereas the State Government was pushing down prices in metropolitan and regional Queensland by providing clear direction and maintaining ownership of state assets.
He said Queensland had the lowest wholesale electricity prices on the east coast, prices were falling and the State Government would spend about $464 million to subsidise the cost of electricity for some 700,000 regional Queenslanders so they paid a similar price to those in the southeast.
"For the LNP, state and federally, to attempt to absolve themselves from any responsibility in regard to energy is laughable,” Dr Lynham said.
"The Queensland LNP does nothing but whinge while offering a regional plan that the Productivity Commission estimated would cost every Queensland household an extra $400 per year.
"Feedback from industry is that they are extremely disappointed in the lack of leadership from the Federal Government and quite frankly, so are we.”
Dr Lynham said Queensland is leading the nation into the future by balancing a renewable future and subsequent jobs growth with the youngest and most efficient fleet of coal-fired power stations in the country plus the recent announcement of CleanCo - a new renewable energy, publicly-owned electricity generator.
"As a direct result of the affordability measures implemented by the Palaszczuk Government, the QCA did not increase electricity tariffs for farming and irrigation customers in 2018-19,” he said.
"The Government also has committed $10 million toward extending the successful Energy Savers Plus Program. The program is being delivered in partnership with Queensland Farmers Federation to support 200 farms with a free energy audit and funding to help improve their energy efficiency and reduce their operating costs.
"Ergon and Energex are committed to supporting not-for-profit groups and organisations. Billing advice and support options are available for customers and there is a community fund specifically for energy efficiency initiatives.
"Both are always available for contact by community groups as to how they might be better placed in regard to their electricity costs.
"Ergon and Energex also provide funding support for the SES and Rural Fire Service across Queensland.”