Cost of electricity hurting farmers

SAVE OUR SUGAR: Farmer Dean Cayley is appalled by ERGON's high power bills. Photo: Simon Young / NewsMail
SAVE OUR SUGAR: Farmer Dean Cayley is appalled by ERGON's high power bills. Photo: Simon Young / NewsMail Simon Young

BUNDABERG farmers are calling for federal candidates to make electricity costs a key focus of their campaign, fearing rising power bills will force growers off the land as the industry becomes unviable.

Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group (BRIG) manager Dale Holliss said one of the biggest issues facing Bundaberg's farmers this election was the cost of electricity.

"We need cheaper electricity now. It is as simple as that," he said.

Mr Holliss said in seven years Australia has gone from having the cheapest electricity in the world to the highest.

"Unsustainable electricity prices are forcing irrigators to switch off electric pumps," he said.

"This in turn is leading to a massive slump in productivity.

"The reality is that most farmers are now very worried. Worried about how they are going to pay their bills because of the escalating cost of inputs such as electricity."

Third generation Alloway cane grower Dean Cayley said in the past two years his bills had almost doubled and, if the trend continued, he feared pumping water will become unviable, hurting the entire community.

"Dry farming is less profitable and means less money spent in town - it will have a roll on effect," he said.

"I don't know how a young fellow buying a farm would make any money."

With this quarter's bill at $14,000, Mr Cayley fears the next two quarters will be even higher.

"In the October -December quarter last year we had a $22,000 bill and we irrigated for 40 of the 90 days," he said.

"If we get a dry spell it's going to be really nasty."

BRIG has called on all party's to commit to a food and fibre tariff on which primary producers pay no network charges, abolish the carbon tax and abolish the renewable energy target increase to 20% by 2020 to reduce electricity prices.

Liberal candidate Keith Pitt and Labor candidate Leanne Donaldson have committed to abolishing the carbon tax but Labor has committed to keeping the RET; Mr Pitt said his party would review the target in 2015.

Independent candidate Reid Schirmer, Family First's Troy Sullivan, Palmer United Party's Rob Messenger and Katter's David Dalgleish have supported any moves to reduce electricity prices.

Greens candidate Mark Simpson said the Greens would fund $100 million worth of grants to energy-intensive farms but believes the carbon tax and the RET were vital.

Topics:  cane farmer electricity bills federal election 2013

Witnesses claim couple were 'thrown' from car after crash

Ambulance generic

The crash happened about 2pm with no injuries reported

Woman taken to hospital after crash

Woman taken to hospital in stable condition

Fuel attracting recreational flyers to Gayndah

FILLING UP: A pilot refuels at the Gayndah airfield.

Reopened aerodrome drawing more planes.

Local Partners

Get help at financial info day

A FREE information day to help anyone in need of financial help or advice is being held today as part of Anti-Poverty Week.

Former Split Enz front man Tim Finn finds new niche

Singer Tim Finn has written the music for theatre production Ladies in Black.

Musician finds his way to theatre

Workshops to show you how to bring puppets to life

STRING SECTION: Two puppet-making workshops will be held in the region.

Ever wanted to know how to make puppets?

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

Azealia Banks won't take legal action against Russell Crowe

Rapper Azealia Banks

Rapper drops legal action against Russell Crowe

Brad Pitt meets with his kids amid divorce proceedings

Actor Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt has met up with his oldest son Maddox

Pictures of Taylor Swift allegedly being groped are sealed

They could "complicate jury selection".

Bruce Springsteen finds therapy useful

Singer Bruce Springsteen

Singer encourages others to seek help

Kerry Washington wants one more child

Kerry Washington recently gave birth to her second child

Kerry has only just become a new mum again

TRAVEL: Musicals light up Sydney

David Campbell performs in Dream Lover.

We take a trip through one of Sydney's finer scenes

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

What our mayor thinks of the new draft SEQPlan

The plan to use the innovative technology as part of the new Maroochydore CBD was cemented on site today when Mayor Mark Jamieson and Envac Asia Region president Chun Yong Ha formally signed the contract for the $20 million underground waste collection system.

New plan accommodates Sunshine Coast Council's vision for growth.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track