QFF cam­paign to re­duce the bur­den of elec­tric­ity prices

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

THERE is no doubt elec­tric­ity prices will be a ma­jor fac­tor in the out­come of the Queens­land state elec­tion this month.

The jury how­ever is still out on how var­i­ous par­ties will pos­i­tively ad­dress this in­te­gral is­sue for re­gional and ru­ral Queens­land.

Queens­land Farm­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Stu­art Ar­mitage said de­spite as­sur­ances from politi­cians over sev­eral years of ‘down­ward pres­sure on elec­tric­ity prices’, there has been no re­prieve and the time for ‘down­ward pres­sure’ was over – im­me­di­ate price re­lief was needed now.

“The on­go­ing ‘en­ergy cri­sis’ con­tin­ues to have vi­a­bil­ity and prof­itabil­ity ram­i­fi­ca­tions for Queens­land farm­ers, who over the past decade had ex­pe­ri­enced elec­tric­ity price in­creases of at least 130 per cent. For some, the cost of this ba­sic need and crit­i­cal farm in­put has risen by 300 per cent. Over the same pe­riod, CPI has in­creased by just 21 per cent,” he said.

“Farm­ers are fed up with the lack of ac­tion and are look­ing for those can­di­dates and po­lit­i­cal par­ties will­ing to do what it takes to re­form the cur­rent bro­ken elec­tric­ity sys­tem.

“Mod­ern, in­ten­sive farm­ing busi­nesses rely on a range of en­ergy-in­ten­sive ac­tiv­i­ties for ir­ri­ga­tion, heat­ing, cool rooms and pack­ag­ing sheds to pro­duce high qual­ity food, fi­bre and fo­liage.

Re­li­able, af­ford­able elec­tric­ity is a must for farm­ers to keep the doors open so they can con­tinue to em­ploy peo­ple and sup­port Queens­land com­mu­ni­ties.

“Gov­ern­ment pro­grams ad­dress­ing en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and de­mand man­age­ment have been an im­por­tant re­source for help­ing Queens­land farm­ers to iden­tify, learn and im­ple­ment en­ergy ef­fi­ciency prac­tices and changes to their busi­nesses.

“Th­ese pro­grams must con­tinue and must evolve to fac­tor in linked ac­tiv­i­ties, ad­dress broader pro­duc­tiv­ity is­sues and pro­vide im­ple­men­ta­tion in­cen­tives. But they must also be ramped up so more farm­ers can ben­e­fit, and they have only damp­ened the un­sus­tain­able price in­creases im­posed on farm­ers,” Mr Ar­mitage said.

This elec­tion QFF is ad­vo­cat­ing for the fol­low­ing prac­ti­cal ac­tions to re­alise its vi­sion for a vi­brant and thriv­ing agri­cul­tural sec­tor pro­vid­ing food, fi­bre and amenity to all Queens­lan­ders:

AC­TIONS

■ Di­rect En­ergy Queens­land to op­ti­mise net­work as­sets and set net­work prices at ef­fi­cient lev­els, at least 40 per cent be­low ex­ist­ing lev­els. ■ Re­move the hid­den taxes on the gov­ern­ment owned cor­po­ra­tions, such as com­pet­i­tive neu­tral­ity pay­ments.

■ Re­move the so­lar bonus from a net­work charge.

■ De­liver a com­pre­hen­sive re­form of ex­ist­ing elec­tric­ity net­work tar­iffs that are ap­pro­pri­ate and af­ford­able for farm­ers.

■ Com­mit $36 mil­lion over three years to an in­te­grated in­dus­try-led en­ergy pro­gram that ad­dresses the en­ergy-wa­ter-pro­duc­tiv­ity nexus.

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