Farmers label power price hikes ‘indefensible’

Farmers hit with 'indefensible' power price rise

Power Struggle
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CANEGROWERS say the State Government should have done more to prevent today's 5.1 per cent power price rise for farmers.

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Today’s announcement by the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) that electricity prices for irrigated agriculture will increase by up to 5.1 per cent will do nothing to allay the fears of farmers who are seeing their livelihoods slowly eaten away by rising power prices, according to CANEGROWERS. 

The final determination from the QCA shows power prices will go up by between 4.5 per cent and 5.1 per cent for farmers and producers on transitional tariffs this coming financial year.

CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said while the 5.1pc increase was better than the 10.3pc rise recommended in the QCA’s original determination, it was still “indefensible”. 

“Let’s be clear, this is not a price cut by the QCA,” Mr Galligan said. “It is merely a smaller increase to power prices that are already horrendously high.”

“The revised determination comes after an intervention by the State Government and in doing so the Government has shown it can do something about power prices and it needs to do more.

“These unsustainably and unnecessarily high power prices will continue to strangle economic activity and destroy jobs across regional Queensland if unchecked.”

Electricity prices for farmers who grow food and fibre for Australians and export markets have gone up more than 130pc since the pricing system changed nine years ago. Over the same period CPI has increased by just 21pc.

“The QCA announcement merely reduces the size of the pain and for some producers it delays the inevitable,” Mr Galligan said. “Without a change, farmers will have to either get off the grid or go out of business!”

LNP Shadow Agriculture Minister Dale Last said today’s decision was another kick in the guts for farmers after an “underwhelming” budget for agriculture.

“In a week when the State Budget delivered absolutely nothing for agriculture, farmers have now been hit with an unfair hike in electricity costs,” Mr Last said.

“These increases are being driven by a government that has ripped billions’ of dollars out of the electricity companies, loaded them up with debt and driven up the cost of power.

“Labor was elected on a promise to lower electricity prices, today they’ve broken that promise.

“Queensland Farmers’ Federation, AgForce, Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation, Growcom and Canegrowers have all highlighted the impact of soaring electricity charges on farm businesses. It is without question one of the biggest issues facing our farmers.”

To view the determination visit: 

http://www.qca.org.au/getattachment/a3e8d208-8177-4d58-a677-f90ad6812c3d/QCA-2017-18-final-determination-of-regulated-elect.aspx (Page 59)

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