Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

I WRITE a lot about power.

Not so much about the power that cor­rupts – although this maxim ap­plies equally in what I will re­late to­day – but the power we use to light our homes and run our busi­nesses.

The good Queens­land Sen­a­tor Matt Cana­van told a fo­rum in Townsville this week that an in­fra­struc­ture au­dit had found busi­nesses in North Queens­land are pay­ing dou­ble the price for elec­tric­ity than those op­er­at­ing else­where in the coun­try.

I think he means those con­testable cus­tomers who buy on the sup­pos­edly open mar­ket.

It was an is­sue that had prob­a­bly been over­looked and needed more work in the Gov­ern­ment’s work on de­vel­op­ing north­ern Aus­tralia, the Sen­a­tor con­ceded. He’s not wrong there. The elec­tric­ity sec­tor is rife with cor­rupt prac­tices and has been for many years.

The sen­a­tor’s col­leagues have called on the na­tional com­pe­ti­tion reg­u­la­tor to in­ves­ti­gate State Gov­ern­ment- owned power gen­er­a­tors Stan­well and CS En­ergy for price goug­ing by us­ing strate­gic bid­ding and with­drawal of ca­pac­ity to push up power prices.

The cash- strapped State La­bor Gov­ern­ment is claimed to be driv­ing the prac­tice to boost rev­enue.

There is likely some truth in this but it would be a mis­take to think La­bor is alone.

Bid­ding prac­tices have raised sus­pi­cion for 20 years and lit­tle or noth­ing has ever been done to ad­dress the is­sue.

Power com­pa­nies have also been cook­ing the books and gold- plat­ing net­works to boost prof­its. So what can be done? Well Sen­a­tor Cana­van also con­ceded that the Na­tional Elec­tric­ity Mar­ket rules were not those of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment but were based on South Aus­tralian leg­is­la­tion, which other states have fol­lowed.

Any changes to those rules, he said, would have to go through the Coun­cil of Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ments’ en­ergy coun­cil and be ne­go­ti­ated be­tween the state gov­ern­ments.

So ba­si­cally, the states need to be brought to heel.

That sounds like a job for the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to me.

The ques­tion is are they up to it? I WAS in Townsville for the V8s re­cently and if there’s one thing they don’t want, it’s higher power prices.

Yet, that’s ex­actly what they’ll get from Queens­land’s La­bor Gov­ern­ment. They, along with the SA, Vic­to­ria and ACT ALP states have all locked into 50/ 50 re­new­able en­ergy tar­gets and prom­ises of zero emis­sions in the com­ing years.

Po­lit­i­cally, you can un­der­stand why Jay Weather­ill, who wants tourists to visit a gi­ant bat­tery, went for it and don’t get me started on the kooky Daniel An­drews’ gov­ern­ment.

But why Queens­land? Pre­mier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk must have a po­lit­i­cal death wish.

North Queens­land is al­ready pay­ing through the nose and you can bang on all you like about the ben­e­fits in 30 years, but real peo­ple only care about how they will make it through the next 30 days let alone 30 months.

La­bor has well over a dozen seats out­side of Bris­bane. The Gov­ern­ment only hold two more seats than the LNP. Do the math. This might play well on Twit­ter but these tar­gets are con­crete shoes in re­gional Aus­tralia.

For Bill Shorten, he only needs seven seats to win gov­ern­ment in his own right. Newspoll has him cur­rently win­ning 13 ex­tra seats.

But just like for the state pre­miers, for Shorten to get to 50/ 50 there’s only two ways: make the power com­pa­nies do it, mean­ing cus­tomers pay, or give them money to help them do it, mean­ing tax­pay­ers pay.

Ei­ther way you will be pay­ing for them to chase Greens pref­er­ences they were al­ready go­ing to get.


A STORY from Syd­ney si­mul­ta­ne­ously broke my heart and gave me a kick in the back­side this week.

An el­derly cou­ple, both in their eight­ies, were found dead in their home.

The man died of nat­u­ral causes, but he was the carer of his blind and dis­abled wife. She died from a lack of care. Lo­cal po­lice were clearly moved by the case and took to Face­book to send a mes­sage we all should heed.

Put your phones down and take 20 min­utes to reach out to an older per­son who lives in your area.

It could be the high­light of their week, and if they are in trou­ble it could save a life.


The bills keep rolling in from the mis­takes of the Gil­lard and Rudd gov­ern­ments.

First there was $ 80 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion and costs for peo­ple in off­shore de­ten­tion.

Now there’s a $ 600 mil­lion claim lodged in the courts this week by the farm­ers smashed by the live ex­port ban.

Their en­tire in­dus­try was turned off af­ter the then- Gil­lard gov­ern­ment got spooked by a Four Cor­ners re­port on Chan­nel 2.

But sadly the cur­rent Lib­eral Gov­ern­ment was no dif­fer­ent. They too got spooked af­ter watch­ing Four Cor­ners and launched a royal com­mis­sion into the NT youth jus­tice sys­tem the next morn­ing.

That com­mis­sion is still go­ing and has be­come a far wider witch hunt than the al­leged ills that pro­gram showed.

We need lead­ers who can take a step back, see a sit­u­a­tion for what it re­ally is and take time to fix a prob­lem.

But when politi­cians want to fix the head­lines, not the real story be­hind the head­line, that’s when the prob­lem will only get worse.

POWER GONE: An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk.

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