THE PREMIER’S GOT A POLITICAL DEATH WISH
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.
PUT THE PHONE DOWN
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.
DIFFERENT PM, SAME MISTAKE
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.