Daintree lacks Govt powers
DAINTREE residents are struggling with the high cost of generating electricity but the State Government remains more concerned about protecting the rainforest.
Solar panels, batteries and thousands of litres of diesel is the only source of electricity for most Daintree residents across the river - and it all comes at a high cost.
State legislation established in 2000 prohibits people from gaining access to electricity and stops residents with electricity from sharing in the name of conservation.
Rainforest Hideaway owner Rob Lapaer has calculated that the 4500 kilowatts of energy he used in seven years would have cost him $900 if he were connected to the grid, but instead he spent about $25,000.
The figure includes cost of fuel, repairs, maintenance to the generators and replacing batteries and other equipment when it breaks down.
“I’m fed up with it, it majorly impacts the quality of your life and I spend so much money on my power when I could be doing other things like holidays,” Mr Lapaer said.
“It’s what the United Nations defines as energy poverty, it totally affects your quality of life, there are a lot more things you could do it you didn’t have to spend all your money on basic needs like electricity.”
When State Member for Cook Jason O’Brien was asked to justify why Daintree residents have to put up with these costs to access electricity, his response to the Gazette was simple.
“The Government understands that the region’s unique characteristics pose unique lifestyle challenges for residents,” he said.
“However, we also acknowledge that the environmental values of the Daintree cannot be compromised.”
These “lifestyle challenges” are sending many Daintree residents and businesses broke.
Cow Bay Hotel owner Peter Magnussen pays around $8000 a month for diesel, not including maintenance and capital costs.
“The cost of living over here is prohibitive and we are all hurting big time,” he said.
Mr O’Brien said the Government will do nothing until their buy-back scheme is complete.
“The Government’s commitment to this scheme means that any changes to the Daintree Electricity Supply Policy could only be considered once the scheme is completed,” he said.
Currently 72 per cent of the properties have been bought or compensated to stop development in the Daintree and there are 84 properties remaining.
Until those properties have been bought back or development stopped, the State Government will not supply the Daintree with electricity.
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