Election issues turn to escalating electricity prices

Surging power prices is a hot button election issue.
Surging power prices is a hot button election issue.

The Queensland Electricity Users Network has used the election to call on the government to take action on power prices after Ergon reported a near tripling of uncollectable bad debt.

QEUN Coordinator Jennifer Brownie said the jump in bad debt from $10 million to $28 million in  one year showed the high financial stress caused by soaring electricity costs.

“This is clear evidence that power bills must be reduced immediately,” Ms Brownie said.

She said the Queensland Government announced yet another rise in both residential and business power bills this year.

“On July 1 the Government increased residential power bills by up to 4.3 per cent and business power bills by up to 7.4 percent,” she said.

“In the last two years regional Queensland businesses have endured power bill rises of 15 per cent or more.”

LNP Leader Tim Nicholls blamed renewable subsidies and said he would undertake major economic reforms to end Labor’s “secret tax on electricity”.

Mr Nicholls said the LNP would provide cheaper electricity by writing down the regulated asset base of Energy Queensland by $2 billion.

“The LNP’s energy plan will save a typical Queensland family an average of $160 each year for the next two years,”  Mr Nicholls said.

However his announcement was rejected by KAP leader Robbie Katter who said it was of little comfort to voters who have seen their electricity prices double over the past 10 years under both Labor and LNP Governments.

“They’ve tried to sell our electricity assets and they’ve allowed Government Owned Corporations (GOC) to continue to rip off customers,’’ Mr Katter said.

“When they were in Government electricity prices went up and I doubt the people of Queensland really trust them to stick to their word.”

Labor’s campaign spokesman Cameron Dick said Tim Nicholls had inadvertently revealed the LNP’s secret intentions.

“The last time the words ‘Tim Nicholls’, ‘structural reform’ and Queensland’s electricity network were mentioned together, it was the start of his plan to privatise our electricity assets,” Mr Dick said.

The LNP has also announced an electricity rebate on obsolete and transitional tariffs for farmers and irrigators. If elected it said it would introduce a “Food and Fibre Transition Payment” to primary producers on tariffs 62, 65 and 66.