Burnett citrus producers hit by power price surge
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.