En­ergy cost bid ‘ use­less’

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - ANDREW BACKHOUSE

A NEW pol­icy an­nounced by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment will have no im­pact on re­duc­ing power prices in Townsville, ac­cord­ing to Mem­ber for Her­bert Cathy O’Toole.

Prime Min­ster Mal­colm Turn­bull yes­ter­day said the Gov­ern­ment would ad­dress high power prices by get­ting elec­tric­ity providers to agree to tell cus­tomers they could get bet­ter deals else­where.

But in the vast ma­jor­ity of Queens­land there is only one elec­tric­ity provider and the price is set by the Queens­land Com­pe­ti­tion Author­ity.

The price for res­i­den­tial and small busi­ness cus­tomers is based on the cost of sup­ply­ing elec­tric­ity in south­east Queens­land.

Ms O’Toole said the pol­icy was not an en­ergy so­lu­tion but was rather about “send­ing pam­phlets” to cus­tomers.

“Even if we had two en­ergy providers in re­gional Queens­land who will go in and ne­go­ti­ate for old age pen­sion­ers and those who don’t have the ca­pac­ity or ne­go­ti­at­ing skills?” she ques­tioned.

“I can’t imag­ine there are any elec­tric­ity providers who are happy to ne­go­ti­ate with peo­ple one on one.”

Ms O’Toole said the longterm so­lu­tion for high elec­tric­ity prices would in­volve the es­tab­lish­ment of a na­tional en­ergy plan.

She said a na­tional plan would pro­vide a frame­work of sta­bil­ity for busi­nesses to in­vest in in­fra­struc­ture.

“Every­thing else is just smoke and mir­rors,” she said.

Ris­ing elec­tric­ity costs have be­come a ma­jor con­cern for busi­nesses and res­i­dents in Townsville, ac­cord­ing to Ms O’Toole.

“The com­mu­nity is very con­cerned about this.”

The Aus­tralian La­bor Party politi­cian said a shift in the econ­omy to the use of more re­new­able en­ergy sources would re­duce elec­tric­ity prices.

“In Townsville we have sun­light 350 days of the year,” she said.

“That’s just one al­ter­na­tive en­ergy source and we’re al­ready see­ing pri­vate in­vest­ment in so­lar farms.”

She said the ALP had a pol­icy for at least 50 per cent of en­ergy to be from a re­new­able source by 2030.

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