GOING DOWN: Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk comments on the release of the Queensland Competition Authority's report while visiting Bundaberg.
GOING DOWN: Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk comments on the release of the Queensland Competition Authority's report while visiting Bundaberg. Mike Knott BUN310519ANA12

Sparks fly as parties disagree on strategy for cheaper power

PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk credited an anticipated drop in electricity prices to state ownership of assets.

But local LNP politicians say that Bundaberg needs access to more than just Ergon Energy as a service provider.

Last Friday the Queensland Competition Authority released its 144 page document which predicted a cost reduction for households of 4.4 per cent in the next financial year.

Businesses would have a reduction of 5.8 per cent.

"That's excellent news, that's the second year in a row (costs dropped),” Ms Palaszczuk said in Bundaberg last Friday.

"I think every dollar counts.”

One of the federal government's main priorities is to vote through legislation with the intention of creating more competition, and to punish state governments if electrical companies do not pass on their savings to the consumer.

It is something the Premier would look at "very closely”.

"Because we own our electricity assets we have been able to put downward pressure, and we are seeing slow decreases,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

"Our wholesale prices are some of the lowest in Australia....but also we have got great gas reserves and we've got a very strong renewable focus as well.”

State Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett said more immediate action was needed to decreased electricity prices.

"Our farmers are on their knees from the inaction for the government and their ability to provide any sort of long term solution,” he said.

The State MP said that spending $6 billion on subsidies showed that the government was not managing the electricity sector.

The solution was to increase the number of energy retailers that provided services in regional Queensland.

"Currently south east Queenslanders are spoilt for choice when it comes to their energy retailers, while Bundaberg and Burnett households are chained to one provider,” Mr Bennett said.

"The LNP's policy of implementing retail competition in the regional electricity market is forecast to save households around $300 a year.”

Hinkler's Federal MP Keith Pitt said the state government needed to "stop playing with words about electricity” and focus on a plan.

"There is no competition for retail pricing in the regions, that can be step one,” he said.

"Step two is they should de-amalgamate the government owned corporations...the fact they turned them into two from three organisations previously has affected competition and driven up prices.”

The QCA report acknowledged a difference in prices between regional Queensland, and the south east.

It said that there was a greater cost in supplying electricity across longer distances to less populated areas.

"These additional costs are significant, with the Queensland Government expecting to pay a subsidy of approximately $465 million in 2018-19,” the report said.

"However, in 2019-20, wholesale energy costs are expected to decrease for customers settled on the net system load profile...with decreases primarily driven by a projected decrease in spot price volatility.”

"The LNP's policy of implementing retail competition in the regional electricity market is forecast to save households around $300 a year.  

"We will also mandate that our government-owned energy companies would invest in renewable energy generation as we transition responsibly to cleaner energy . (The Federal Government policies are designed to drive down electricity prices but they would be the best to comment on their approach) 

"Based on the fact that the government had to spend $6 billion of tax payers money on subsidies for electricity, it's all too clear, that Labor is not managing the process.  

"The LNP's plan would make the market more attractive for retail operators to compete against Ergon's retail business and ensure all Queenslanders can look for better deals.

"If elected at the October 2020 election, the LNP would introduce reforms to allow other energy retailers to compete against Ergon.

"We need action and we need it now; our farmers are on their knees from the inaction for the government and their inability to provide any sort of long term solution.  

"It's time for Annastacia Palaszczuk to stop treating regional Queenslanders like second class citizens."



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