Farmers continue battle with power
TAXPAYERS continue to foot the bill for rising electricity costs in Queensland while politicians play the blame game for tariffs almost doubling.
Kalfresh director Robert Hinrichsen said he estimated the rising tariff prices were costing his Kalbar and Lower Tenthill operations an extra $40,000 a year combined.
“It’s not better quality power, it’s the same damn thing we’ve been buying for the last 30 years, it just costs us a lot more, so somebody is making a lot of money at our expense,” Mr Hinrichsen said.
“At the time of the loss of the irrigation tariff I’m pretty sure (the cost of electricity) was about 11c per kilowatt-hour off-peak and 21c peak.
“My latest bill is 21c off-peak and 36c peak.”
The vegetable grower said he’d tried to reduce his electricity bill but energy prices were rising faster than his ability to become more efficient.
“I’ve have spent over a million dollars in the last two years from gun to pivot irrigators for lower pressure and our power bill still hasn’t gone down,” Mr Hinrichsen said.
“When it comes to talking about electricity prices, the media always talks about what it’s done for household power prices, but what it’s done for rural and industry power is just horrendous.”
Mr Hinrichsen is one of many farmers calling for a cut to energy prices, with Queensland Farmers’ Federation chief executive Travis Tobin saying the State Government continues to make money off residents by charging a premium cost for electricity.
“For every dollar that Queensland energy consumers paid for network charges over the past three years, the Queensland Government collected 47c in profits,” Mr Tobin said.
Despite criticisms, Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the Queensland Government had stabilised prices for farming and irrigation tariffs.
“In 2018-19, the Palaszczuk Government will spend almost $464 million to subsidise the cost of electricity for consumers in regional Queensland,” Dr Lynham said.
“To help customers adjust to the standard business tariffs – particularly farmers and irrigators – the government is delivering a range of programs, including a $10 million Regional Business Support Package and a $20 million Business Energy Savers Program.”
But Mr Hinrichsen said electricity prices were the highest they had ever been, which made it hard for the state’s primary producers to compete in international markets.
“Markets where we used to compete, now we don’t compete anymore,” Mr Hinrichsen said.
“We find ourselves in a place where we can’t even compete in our own market against imports.”
Member for Lockyer Jim Mcdonald said while subsiding the cost of electricity sounded helpful, many businesses would receive no advantage.
“What the Labor party are very good at doing is raising the price of electricity and giving a subsidy for payment,” Mr Mcdonald said.
BIG BILL: Kalfresh director Robert Hinrichsen says farmers are still paying too much for electricity.