Our reps have to act on un­af­ford­able power cost

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

ON be­half of Queens­land sug­ar­cane grow­ers, Cane­grow­ers has joined nine other agri­cul­tural groups to put a com­pre­hen­sive joint sub­mis­sion into the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion’s Elec­tric­ity Sup­ply and Prices In­quiry.

Pro­duc­ers of fruit and veg­eta­bles, sug­ar­cane, dairy and cot­ton are strug­gling to stay prof­itable af­ter elec­tric­ity cost in­creases of 130 per cent over the past nine years. The prob­lem is sim­ple – in ev­ery sec­tor of the elec­tric­ity mar­ket the charges be­ing passed on to con­sumers ex­ceed the eco­nom­i­cally ef­fi­cient cost of sup­ply.

From gen­er­a­tion to trans­mis­sion and re­tail, big prof­its are be­ing made. We are all con­tribut­ing to them and we shouldn’t be.

There is no gen­uine com­pe­ti­tion so there are no brakes on their prof­its. The Queens­land Gov­ern­ment col­lects more than $ 1.3 bil­lion a year from elec­tric­ity com­pa­nies, stripping it straight out of the pock­ets of fam­i­lies and busi­nesses into State Trea­sury.

This joint agri­cul­ture sub­mis­sion from 10 farm­ing groups to the ACCC iden­ti­fies the bar­ri­ers to work­able com­pe­ti­tion and ef­fec­tive reg­u­la­tion in the elec­tric­ity mar­ket and makes clear rec­om­men­da­tions.

We can all see the prob­lems – they are well doc­u­mented. We can all, farm­ers, busi­nesses and house­holds feel the pain, and yet govern­ments and reg­u­la­tory bod­ies still don’t act.

With this groundswell of dis­sat­is­fac­tion grow­ing, it will be a brave politi­cian who shirks their re­spon­si­bil­ity to act. DAN GALLIGAN, Cane­grow­ers CEO

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