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.