Water, power costs in sights
THE Liberal National Party has pledged to drive water and electricity costs down if elected at the next state election.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander visited Airlie Beach and Proserpine last week speaking with local families, small business owners, LNP members and potential candidates for the Whitsunday electorate.
Mr Mander promoted the LNP's electricity policies and said the party would introduce competition into the electricity retail market if elected.
"The issue that affects everybody, both in the tourism industry and those on land, is the price of power and water,” he said.
"We will transform the two power operators into three power operators. That's been recommended by the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission), and it's been recommended by the Queensland Productivity Commission as a good way of increasing competition and driving prices down across the board.”
Canegrowers Proserpine welcomed the prospect of lower energy prices revealing a sharp drop in the number of growers using their full water allocations due to the cost of operating irrigation pumps.
Manager Mike Porter said the price of electricity was the "single limiting factor” to productivity.
"We've just gone through one of the driest periods the industry has endured for a number of years. We've lost two months of growth,” he said.
"We're about 40-50 per cent down on our normal water usage up until December 31.
"It's got to a critical stage where governments have to stop talking about reviewing the price tariff structure and take action.”
Mr Mander said the LNP would invest up to 150 million in the Uniform Tariff Policy (UTP) to give parity between regional and south-eastern electricity prices.
Under the State Government policy everyone in the state pays the same price for electricity, regardless of where they live.
"We are going to keep that (the UTP) and actually add more money to it so that regional Queenslanders can get the same deals that people get in south-east Queensland,” Mr Mander said.
"Regions can only deal with Ergon because it's uneconomical for retailers to operate up here.
Mr Mander said money that goes to Ergon Energy's retail arm would go to the distribution network instead.
"That means they can offer power at a lower than retail price to people.” he said.