Rural customers 'disadvantaged' by electricity policy
QUEENSLAND'S "utterly twisted" energy policy is destroying businesses and forcing cane farmers to leave their crops without water, according to Mirani MP Stephen Andrew.
Mr Andrew has urged the state government to do "much more" to get electricity prices down, and expand the Electricity and Other Legislation Bill that is before parliament, claiming it addresses only a "narrow range of problems" affecting the direction of energy policy in the state.
Mr Andrew told Parliament on Thursday he sees the fundamental structure of Ergon's regulated tariff as "problematic" for regional energy consumers.
He said sugarcane farmers who irrigate for long hours are the most disadvantaged by the current regulations.
"People in the cane industry are not even breaking even, there should be a very, very cheap price for them" he said.
Mr Andrew said even though dams in the region are at 96 per cent capacity farmers will not water because of electricity prices.
"No one wants to water because they don't want to turn on the pump because this puts them further behind," he said.
"It is a knock-on effect. Mackay has run out of molasses because there is no water content in the cane."
Mr Andrew said his father, who has worked in the industry since he was 11 has witnessed this: "He has seen sticks of cane falling dead. It is dying because ... farmers will not pay the cost."
The biggest gripe for Mr Andrews was the disparity in prices which was seeing farmers charged 32 cents more for each kilowatt hour than those running pools or hot water heaters.
"How can it be that they [are charging] 51 cents and 19 cents at the very same time of day," he said.
"What is unfolding is the destruction of numerous businesses across Queensland because of unaffordable electricity costs."