NATION Power prices to force job cuts
QUEENSLAND b u s i n e s s e s have warned they will have to sack staff or increase prices for consumers to deal with rising energy costs.
Energy ministers will meet in Brisbane today to discuss the recommendations of the Finkel Review.
According to preliminary results from a Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland survey, 20 per cent of businesses will have to cut staff in the wake of rising electricity costs, which the business group said was the number one issue now for business.
The CCIQ survey also found about 60 per cent will have to pass the costs on while 6 per cent of businesses will be forced to close.
About half say power price rises have had a critical impact on business and 85 per cent said bills had risen by up to 50 per cent in the past two years.
Meanwhile, South Australia’s Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis told Adelaide radio that Queensland was gaming the system to increase prices, a claim denied by the Palaszczuk Government, which said the price increases were demand- supply imbalance created by a lack of federal policy and the closure of the Hazlewood power station.
“Queensland Treasury and the private operators of gener- ators are spiking electricity prices,’’ Mr Koutsantonis said.
He said governments made decisions about how to run their generators and charge for power and Queensland was matching the prices paid by private generators rather than competing with them.
“The private generators are charging much more for their electricity. So rather than competing with them as they should be, what they’re doing is they’re matching their higher prices,’’ he said.
Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said there was evidence to back up the “gaming’’ claims.
“Queensland families and business paid 30 per cent more than other states for their wholesale electricity prices over the first five months of this year. Since mid- 2014 Queensland has had more price spikes than any other state,’’ Mr Frydenberg said.
“The question for the Palaszczuk Government is how can they defend this hidden electricity tax which is hurting Queensland.”
Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey said the independent Australian Energy Regulator investigated high price events earlier this year and found they were caused by high electricity demand, heatrelated network and generation constraints, not bidding behaviour.