Dain­tree lacks Govt pow­ers

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - AN­GELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

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.

What do you think about this is­sue? Text the editor on 0421 269 100 or leave a mes­sage on www.face­book.com/PortDou­glasandMoss­man­Gazette. Also, check out our his­tor­i­cal Cape Tribu­la­tion fea­ture on pages 28-29.

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