Bur­nett cit­rus pro­duc­ers hit by power price surge

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - Adam McCleery adam.mccleery@cnbtimes.com.au

NORTH Bur­nett cit­rus pro­duc­ers like Ken Roth will be hit hard by a rise in ir­ri­gated elec­tric­ity prices with a 5.1% in­crease be­ing an­nounced by the Queens­land Com­pe­ti­tion Au­thor­ity.

Mr Roth’s Gayn­dah or­chard is heav­ily re­liant on healthy ex­port prices.

How­ever, elec­tric­ity prices for pro­duc­ers of food such as cit­rus in Aus­tralia’s ex­port mar­ket have gone up 130% since the pric­ing sys­tem changed nine years ago.

Over the same pe­riod the con­sumer price index in­creased by just 21%, plac­ing an added fi­nan­cial strain on pro­duc­ers like Mr Roth.

“It was a fan­tas­tic year for ex­port, prices for honey Mur­cotts were the best we have seen them, (but) the do­mes­tic prices were ter­ri­ble for man­darins,” Mr Roth said.

While the 5.1% in­crease is bet­ter than the 10.3% rise rec­om­mended in the QCA’s orig­i­nal fig­ures, Cane­grow­ers chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Dan Gal­li­gan said any rise to elec­tric­ity prices for re­gional Queens­land was in­de­fen­si­ble.

“Let’s be clear, this is not a price cut by the QCA,” Mr Gal­li­gan said.

“It is merely a smaller in­crease to power prices that are al­ready hor­ren­dously high.”

Mr Gal­li­gan said the gov­ern­ment has proven it is ca­pa­ble of ad­dress­ing the pric­ing is­sue if it chose to.

“The re­vised de­ter­mi­na­tion comes af­ter an in­ter­ven­tion by the State Gov­ern­ment and in do­ing so the Gov­ern­ment has shown

it can do some­thing about power prices and it needs to do more,” Mr Gal­li­gan said.

Mr Gal­li­gan said the prices were not sus­tain­able in the long run and would have a neg­a­tive im­pact on pro­duc­ers.

“Th­ese un­sus­tain­able and un­nec­es­sar­ily high power

prices will con­tinue to stran­gle eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity and de­stroy jobs across re­gional Queens­land if unchecked,” Mr Gal­li­gan said.

Aus­tralian cit­rus ex­ports had a record break­ing sea­son in 2016 reach­ing $315 mil­lion.

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