Govt accused of raiding profits while power prices surge

Some farmers are choosing not to irrigate their crops because they can't afford the electricity for the pumps.
Some farmers are choosing not to irrigate their crops because they can't afford the electricity for the pumps. Mike Knott

THE Queensland Government must explain why it has taken $3.2 billion in dividends from state-owned electricity assets to pay down debt while householders and farmers are being crippled by power costs, according to two Bundaberg politicians.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and State Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett have called on the Palaszczuk Government to stop raiding fast-rising Ergon and Energex profits and give tariff relief to consumers across the board.

"The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has moved to restrict Ergon Energy's proposed revenue by 27% over the next five years to save customers money," Mr Pitt said.

"Instead of reducing energy prices across the board, the State Labor Government is challenging the AER's determination and is using Queenslanders as their personal cash cows.

"Farmers, businesses and households are hurting. They need cost-of-living relief now."

Their comments follow a NewsMail story yesterday, in which Canegrowers representatives called on the government to stop an irrigation crisis because many farmers could no longer afford to switch their pumps on and grow a profitable crop.

Labor Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson told the NewsMail it cost more to supply electricity to rural and regional customers, which was why the government supported those customers through a Uniform Tariff Policy.

While Mr Bennett acknowledged some of the profits from energy assets went towards ensuring those in the bush paid the same price as those in the city, he believed the main problem was the government not managing its finances prudently.

"The fact is Labor is using ($3.2 billion in profits) to pay down its own debt," Mr Bennett said.

"Queenslanders are paying for their financial incompetence."

Topics:  electricity bills ergon keith pitt stephen bennett

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