BIG ISSUE: Opposition leader Tim Nicholls at Mark Pressler's cane farm in Bundaberg yesterday.
BIG ISSUE: Opposition leader Tim Nicholls at Mark Pressler's cane farm in Bundaberg yesterday. Paul Donaldson BUN100717LNP6

I'll give you the power, Nicholls tells farmers in Bundy

THE price of electricity is "crippling” farmers according to LNP Leader Tim Nicholls.

Mr Nicholls visited a local farm today to announce his partnership with farmers to tackle the power price hike if elected.

"Unfortunately under Labor our agricultural industries are paying the price for out of control energy prices, we've seen prices for agriculture, for farmers, for cane-growers skyrocket,” he said.

"They're continuing to skyrocket with price increases of up to 50% expected over the next 5 years and it's just not good enough.

"The LNP won't stand for it, if elected the LNP will re-establish the Agricultural Energy and Water council - this will allow Canegrowers, the National Farmers Federation, AgForce and others to have a seat at the top table.”

The Queensland opposition leader said the council would be a platform for farmers to speak directly with leaders about the problems they're facing and their solutions.

He further claimed Labor was "gaming the system” with a "hidden tax” on the agricultural industry.

"In the Bundaberg region, it doesn't matter if it's chillies or macadamia, they are all being affected by these high power prices,” he said.

"So much so that people are starting to turn off their pumps.”

Canegrowers Chariman Allan Dingle said the price of power had already stopped some farmers from irrigating.

"They're just sitting in the laps of the gods, hoping that they'll get rain to grow a crop, and that is non-beneficial for the whole community,” he said.

"I think there's many benefits to this committee being formed, where we've go a direct path straight to government.

"Everyone's aware power prices have gone up 130% over the last 8-10 years and it's not sustainable.

"It's not just sugarcane, it's all forms of agriculture and it's probably not just irrigation.”

Mr Dingle said power prices needed to be controlled and was hopeful the council will put farmers on the right track.

Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson said the Palaszczuk Government's acted to stabilise electricity prices and shield Queenslanders from the nation-wide increase caused by Nicholls' Canberra colleagues.

"That's why we're investing $770m on a significant cost of living measure to slash the recent expected price increase by more than half,” Ms Donaldson said.

"The LNP have no credibility on electricity prices and what Tim Nicholls is failing to tell Queenslanders is because of his Canberra colleagues we're seeing the spike in electricity prices across the country. 

"He's also failing to tell Queenslanders that if he'd won government and sold off our assets - Queensland would be seeing the double-digit increases most of the other states are seeing right now.”

"Under the QCA's revised figures, the household bill increase in regional Queensland will be 3.3%, a saving of $56 compared to the original QCA outcome of 7.1%.

"A typical small business will now see an increase of just 4.1%, a saving of $99, farmers and irrigators will also see their price increase halved to 4.5%-5.1%.

"Large businesses across regional Queensland will see a saving between $652 and $3822 depending on the size of the business.

"We're supporting regional business customers by providing $10 million over two years to deliver improved access to digital metering, greater information about tariff options and co-contributions to help customers invest in operation and equipment changes to manage bill impacts.

"This was announced as part of the our response to the recommendations from the Queensland Productivity Commission's Electricity Pricing Inquiry Final Report.

"We're already working with industry through the Energy Savers Program - recent audits of 110 Queensland farming enterprises found that power bill savings of $3m could be achieved.”

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