Isis Town and Country - - Opinion -

An­other elec­tric shock

THE pro­posed 10.3% elec­tric­ity price hike needs to be reeled in now. The siz­able hike has dev­as­tated cane grow­ers and the com­mu­nity’s sense of hope for a brighter, fairer fu­ture, fol­low­ing the re­lease of the Queens­land Com­pe­ti­tion Au­thor­ity’s draft de­ter­mi­na­tion 2016-17, for re­gional reg­u­lated elec­tric­ity prices, dated 24/03/16. What makes the situation even more dire is that the hikes, which will im­pact on ru­ral house­hold­ers, busi­nesses and farm­ers across ru­ral Queens­land, come on the back of a se­ries of in­creases amount­ing to a 96% cu­mu­la­tive in­crease over the past seven years. Among the worst hit will be Queens­land’s ir­ri­gated farm­ers. The spi­ralling cost of elec­tric­ity to run pumps to ir­ri­gate farm land is be­com­ing eco­nom­i­cally un­bear­able and many grow­ers are be­ing forced to make the de­ci­sion to switch the pumps off and lose vi­tal pro­duc­tiv­ity and profitabil­ity. It’s un­ac­cept­able, es­pe­cially given it doesn’t have to be this way. I find it in­ter­est­ing to see that the QCA is rec­om­mend­ing in­creases when we are hear­ing in the press that spe­cial­ists in the elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion area are ad­vo­cat­ing that the gov­ern­ment should im­me­di­ately di­rect Pow­er­link, En­ergex and Er­gon En­ergy to cut rev­enues from 40-50%, giv­ing price relief of about 35% to most con­sumers. The long-term so­lu­tion is to fix the reg­u­la­tory rules to en­sure it de­liv­ers fair re­turns rather than ex­ces­sive re­turns to the net­works and the State Gov­ern­ment that owns them. So much for sup­port­ing agri­cul­ture as one of the four pil­lars of our econ­omy and the great fu­ture for our state. The State Gov­ern­ment ap­pears even more fo­cused on milk­ing the elec­tric­ity cash cow, that it can­not see how growth will come from bet­ter power prices sup­port­ing ex­pand­ing agri­cul­ture. This short-sight­ed­ness will turn a pil­lar into a stump very quickly. KERRY LAT­TER Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Cane­grow­ers Mackay

Pre­mi­ums to rise

FRI­DAY will be April Fool’s Day, and health fund pre­mi­ums go up again, be­tween 5.1% and 8.1%. Since April 2012 the pre­vi­ous fed­eral gov­ern­ment de­cided to in­tro­duce re­duc­tions to the Gov­ern­ment Health Re­bate ev­ery year. The costs have gone through the roof, partly be­cause of this re­bate re­duc­tion. If you were get­ting a re­bate then of 30%, it is now down to just over 27%, and if you were on a 40% re­bate, it is now down to 35.722. We all want to blame the health funds, but the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment is re­spon­si­ble for at least 1% of the premium in­creases. It is es­ti­mated half a mil­lion pri­vate sub­scribers will with­draw from health funds this year. Pub­lic hos­pi­tals are strug­gling to cope now. What will hap­pen with the in­flux of ex­tra pa­tients in the pub­lic health sys­tem? Also, there are strong ru­mours about ev­ery­one hav­ing to pay for blood tests and x-rays af­ter July 1, 2016. Alf Jones Woodgate

Alf Jones The costs have gone through the roof, partly be­cause of this re­bate re­duc­tion.

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