Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander visited Proserpine last week.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander visited Proserpine last week. Allan Reinikka ROK280618amander4

Pain in the pump: LNP promises reduced energy prices

CANEGROWERS Proserpine revealed the number of growers using their full water allocations had taken a sharp drop due to the cost of operating irrigation pumps.

Manager Mike Porter said cane growers in Proserpine had lost two months of growth after slogging through one of the driest periods the industry had endured in years.

But rather than using irrigation to sustain the crop, growers had reduced their methods from crop promotion to crop survival due to impractical electricity costs.

"We're about 40-50 per cent down on our normal water usage up until December 31," Mr Porter said.

"If you can't apply water when it's needed by the crop, the crop suffers and goes backwards.

"Growers make the decision it's not worth paying for electricity to apply water because the cost doesn't justify the end result they're going to receive."

The impact of electricity costs on cane growers and small businesses was brought to the attention of Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander who visited Proserpine and Airlie Beach last week to promote the LNP's electricity policies.

Mr Mander said the party would introduce competition into the electricity retail market if elected at the next state election.

"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," he told the Whitsunday Coast Guardian.

Mr Mander said the LNP would invest up to 150 million in the Uniform Tariff Policy 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.

Mr Mander said money that went 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.

Canegrowers Proserpine welcomed the idea of reduced energy prices, but Mr Porter said a change needed to happen sooner rather than later.

"The price of electricity is the single limiting factor to productivity," he said.

"It's got to a critical stage where governments have to stop talking about reviewing the price tariff structure and take action."