Reports also show Energy Queensland – a merger of the state’s electricity providers, including Ergon – returned a total profit of $809 million for the year.
Reports also show Energy Queensland – a merger of the state’s electricity providers, including Ergon – returned a total profit of $809 million for the year.

‘Secret tax’ on North Queensland energy bills

MILLIONS of dollars in profits from North Queensland's only energy provider are being used to prop up the State Government's Budget instead of reducing the crippling cost of electricity.

Annual reports released by the Government show Ergon Energy Queensland made a $375 million profit before income tax in the 2017/18 financial year, which was more than double the previous year.

Reports also show Energy Queensland - a merger of the state's electricity providers, including Ergon - returned a total profit of $809 million for the year.

This was well above the company's profit target of $612 million.

Energy Queensland returned a $1.161 billion total dividend to the Government, of which about $852 million was then spent on electricity customer rebates, concessions and cost reducing initiatives.

The remaining $309 million went to Queensland Treasury.

LNP energy spokesman Michael Hart said North Queenslanders were being overcharged for electricity because the Government was using energy bills like a "secret tax".

"(Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk should use these profits to introduce retail price competition into regional Queensland," he said.

"The $300 million added to Labor's coffers every year would easily cover the cost of bringing retail electricity competition to take on Ergon in regional Queensland, driving down electricity bills for Townsville residents on average by $300 (per year).

"Labor should stop treating regional Queenslanders like second-class citizens and give them access to cheaper electricity like people in southeast Queensland get."

Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said most of the energy company dividends were used for electricity price relief but not all.

"Some of these dividends are used to fund schools, hospitals and frontline services for North Queenslanders," he said.

"But reinvesting these dividends is only possible because we did not sell these assets, which is what the LNP would have done. "Under the LNP, these dividends would be in the hands of offshore multinationals, and we would be pleading with boards and CEOs overseas for these dividends to be invested in driving down prices for Queenslanders."

Dr Lynham said the Government spent about $1.1 billion on reducing the cost of electricity for Queenslanders, which was its "most extensive support ever".

This included almost $493 million for subsidies to regional households and businesses, including Townsville to ensure they paid a similar price to southeast Queensland.

A further $149 million was spent on initiatives under the Government's Affordable Energy Plan, including the first of two $50 annual payments to household power bills as a dividend to taxpayers.

Dr Lynham also defended the $1 million salary paid to the chief executive of Energy Queensland.



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