Ir­ri­ga­tion costs out of con­trol

Central and North Burnett Times - - RURAL LIFE -

QUEENS­LAND Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Stu­art Ar­mitage is call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to take a stand on ris­ing elec­tric­ity prices within the re­gion.

“The Queens­land Com­pe­ti­tion Au­thor­ity’s an­nounce­ment that elec­tric­ity prices for ir­ri­gated agri­cul­ture will in­crease by up to 5.1% is an­other blow to the state’s farm­ers deal­ing with spi­ralling elec­tric­ity bills,” Mr Ar­mitage said.

“The 5.1% in­crease comes on the back of the State Gov­ern­ment’s in­ter­ven­tion on the orig­i­nal QCA de­ter­mi­na­tion for a 10.3% rise – yet an­other dou­ble-digit an­nual in­crease.

“The gov­ern­ment’s ac­tion proves that it can ad­dress elec­tric­ity price in­creases, some­thing it pre­vi­ously claimed can­not be con­trolled.”

Mr Ar­mitage be­lieves more can be done by the gov­ern­ment.

“Elec­tric­ity price in­creases of at least 130% in un­der a decade, when CPI has only in­creased by 21% over that pe­riod, have se­verely eroded farm busi­ness prof­itabil­ity and for some busi­nesses is chal­leng­ing vi­a­bil­ity,” he said.

“For a small ir­ri­gated farm busi­ness pay­ing around $20,000 per an­num for elec­tric­ity (just for ir­ri­ga­tion), a 5% in­crease still de­liv­ers a nasty price rise, with an ad­di­tional $1000 per an­num – and that is based on the cur­rent tran­si­tional tar­iffs which will be re­moved in 2020.

“Gov­ern­ments seem to have failed to recog­nise that re­duced farm busi­ness prof­itabil­ity has a di­rect cor­re­la­tion to less money be­ing spent in re­gional com­mu­ni­ties, so the ‘mul­ti­plier ef­fect’ is lost from those economies.

“The un­jus­ti­fi­able price in­creases con­tinue to di­rectly and in­di­rectly im­pact the eco­nomic pros­per­ity of re­gional Queens­land, re­sult­ing in lost jobs and op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

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