As the Queensland election battle intensifies, three of the peak bodies representing business have combined to make sure that the issue is acted on by all sides of politics and commitments are made to drive real change and reduce energy costs.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ), CANEGROWERS and Queensland Farmers Federation (QFF) have formed a Queensland Industry Energy Alliance (QIEA) highlighting five key principles that the major parties can commit to to reduce Queensland’s skyrocketing electricity bills.
CCIQ’s General Manager of Advocacy, Kate Whittle, highlighted the challenge.
“Power prices are the number one issue impacting businesses in Queensland, particularly those in regional Queensland. Hardest hit are our manufacturers and primary producers, two cornerstones of our economy," she said.
“Over 170,000 jobs are at stake if real action is not taken immediately,” said Ms Whittle.
QFF President Stuart Armitage explained that Queensland’s electricity prices doubled between 2007-08 and 2013-14, driven by increases in network charges which grew six-fold (network costs account for 95% of the total electricity price increases during the period).
“QIEA understands that the Queensland Government has a dilemma. As the owner of the state’s electricity transmission and distribution networks, Powerlink, Ergon and Energex, it has a strong interest in both the operational efficiency and financial performance of the businesses," he said.
“It is no secret that being in the electricity generation and distribution game is good business, especially for the government that owns these businesses. Unfortunately, this is coming at the expense of Queensland’s productivity and international competitiveness."
CANEGROWERS Senior-Vice Chairman, Allan Dingle said, “Restoring Queensland’s international competitiveness is a must. Halving the value of the regulated asset base by removing assets that are not used or useful will be a good place to start.”
Mr Dingle said further action included a sustained 33% price cut and new tariff structure that suits the needs of electricity users will deliver benefits where they are most needed.
The Alliance is calling for real action and is seeking commitments from all parties to bring down the cost of electricity before more businesses close, more production is lost, and more jobs disappear from regional Queensland.
Our five policy recommendations to immediately place downward pressure on prices are:
- Set prices for Queensland networks at efficient levels
- Remove hidden taxes
- Remove solar bonus from a network charge
- Introduce five (5) minute settlement period
- Design and introduce efficient tariffs
Read more in the Power Principles document.
“It’s time for all political parties to put the Queensland economy first and reign in the excesses of the state’s electricity natural monopolies,” Mr Dingle said.
“Electricity prices have surpassed sustainable levels. Our members are crying out for relief. It is for this reason our organisations have come together. The issue is bigger than any one industry,” Ms Whittle said.
The LNP on 5 November made a commitment to voluntarily write down the Regulated Asset Base. The Alliance welcomes their commitment but believes the reduction could be more ambitious.
The Alliance calls on all political parties to commit to our five principles to provide relief to Queensland farmers, irrigators and small businesses.