LNP makes power price pitch to CQ as Labor raises questions
THE cost of power is biting deeply into the bottom line of small businesses in CQ like Lisa Hinchliffe's.
Fuel Cafe owner Ms Hinchliffe said she didn't anticipate the financial impact of electricity to her business when she purchased it two-and-a-half years ago, forcing her to take drastic steps to mitigate the cost.
"It has impacted my business to quite a large level, just having to look at ways of cutting costs or making changes like (buying) better equipment,” Ms Hinchliffe said.
"I've got three staff but I mainly do most of the work myself, I'm a five day a week business and I pay about $315 a week (on power).
"I think any change from (any political party) would help, not just for me as a business owner but also even in a household, I know our electricity bills at home have gone up.”
Talking to business owners in the area, Ms Hinchcliffe couldn't believe the amount of money some were paying for power and forcing them to pass the costs onto their customers.
"Small businesses are the backbone of Australia and we have to do anything we can to help,” she said.
Ms Hinchliffe shared her concerns with visiting Shadow Minister John-Paul Langbroek and Candidate for Rockhampton, Douglas Rodgers, who explained the LNP's new election commitment to reduce power prices.
"We announced over the weekend that Queensland households will be getting $160 a year reduced off their electricity bills over the next couple of years, rising to $460 once we co-ordinate things with the federal government in 2020 by getting rid of the renewable energy target and by using the federal government's energy guarantee,” Mr Langbroek said.
"Under our policy we're going to rework the energy system and depending on which tariff businesses are on, from small businesses to large businesses, they'll be able to save hundreds of dollars over the next three years up to multiple thousands of dollars if they are big businesses involved in manufacturing where electricity is an important part of the bills that they pay.”
Mr Langbroek said the LNP planned to undertake major economic reforms of the state's electricity system by restructuring the government-owned electricity generators, write down the regulated asset base (poles and wires) by $2b and remove subsidies for renewables to deliver sustainably cheaper electricity.
"We have listened to businesses who are struggling with increasing electricity prices and our energy plan will allow small businesses to grow and employ more Queenslanders,” he said.
The LNP also planned to scrap the non-reversion policy which stopped people in regional Queensland switching back to Energy Queensland if they no longer want to stay on a market offer.
"We have also announced we are freezing executive bonuses, putting a consumer representative on the board of network businesses and to build with the private sector a high-efficiency low-emissions coal-fired power station in North Queensland,” which Mr Langbroek said would result in a decrease in emissions.
Queensland Minister for Energy Mark Bailey said Tim Nicholls and the LNP had no credibility when it came to energy policy after previously promising power savings before presiding over a 43 per cent increase - an extra $436 - on annual power bills in only three years.
"Tim Nicholls has serious questions to answer, for example he has not provided any detail on the savings he claims to deliver through the LNP's energy policy.
"It's all trumped-up figures,” Mr Bailey said.
"The last time he mentioned structural reform and Queensland's electricity network was the start of his privatisation plan.
"He's done it once, and he'll do it again.
"His so-called savings are things like adding billions to government debt, accepting the National Energy Guarantee without the modelling even being done and scrapping our Renewable Energy Target, which won't deliver the savings they've claimed and will risk regional renewable jobs.”
In stark contrast, Mr Bailey said his government had clear and costed plans, and a solid record of stabilising electricity prices during their term after the massive surges under the LNP.
"We're continuing to act in the face of high power price increases across the country due to the Turnbull Government's broken National Electricity Market (NEM),” he said.
"We've been able to do this because Labor saved our energy assets from privatisation by the LNP.”
Mr Bailey said Tim Nicholls was dodging legitimate questions about how he planned to pay for his election promises, which were currently in the vicinity of $21b, saying that voters should expect the LNP to sell public assets, cutting workers and slashing services across the state.
Since elected, Mr Bailey said the Queensland Government has:
- Directed Ergon and Energex not to appeal against the Australian Energy Regulator's revenue determination, which stabilised network prices.
- Introduced the $1.16 billion Powering Queensland Plan - a roadmap to put downward pressure on electricity prices, power jobs and investment and lead the State's transition to a low-carbon electricity sector.
- Introduced the $386 million Powering North Queensland Plan to develop strategic transmission infrastructure in North and Northwest of the state to support a clean energy hub and unlock renewable energy projects and jobs.
- Restarted Stanwell Corporation's 385 megawatt (MW) Swanbank E gas-fired power station, mothballed under the LNP, bringing it online to increase supply and reduce volatility in the Queensland wholesale market.
- Announced $770 million to cut the Queensland Competition Authority proposed household electricity prices by half, to just 3.3 per cent for regional households and 4.5 to 5.1 per cent for farmers and irrigators.
- Established the Affordable Energy Plan, with all retailers now signed up to the Premiers Affordable Energy Pledge.
- Announced $50 a year rebate on every household bill in 2018 and 2019, and ensured power bills for households and small business are pegged to average inflation over the next two years.
- Introduced $200 off bills per year for another 4000 regional households who participate in the expansion of the Energy Savvy program starting next year ($4 million).
- Offered rebates of up to $300 to Queenslanders who purchase an energy efficient fridge, washing machine or air conditioner.
- Offered an additional annual discount for Ergon customers of $75 for households and $120 for small businesses that take up Ergon's direct debit payment option, while at the same time removing Ergon Energy's non-reversion policy to give regional customers more choice and control of their bills.
- Supported Queensland jobs and industry by providing energy audits for large customers including manufacturers, with a 50 per cent co-contribution to implement recommendations (up to $250,000 per customer). This is expected to deliver savings of 10% to 40% for large industrial customers.