Labor’s secret energy tax exposed by new report

A new Grattan Institute report has exposed the unconscionable behaviour of Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government in ripping off Queenslanders through their electricity bills.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said it is unacceptable that the Labor Government state run generators were allegedly ‘gaming’ the market to jack up prices and pump profits back into the coffers of the Palaszczuk administration.

“This is nothing more than a secret tax grab by the Palaszczuk Government,” Ms Frecklington said.

“Well it isn’t a secret any longer, this unacceptable behaviour proves what we have been saying for almost a year that the reason we have record high power bills is because Annastacia Palaszczuk uses electricity like a tax.

“The Grattan Institute reports makes it clear that the cost to Queensland consumers of this ‘gaming’ was $673 million in 2017 alone.

“It was only when the LNP called out the gaming behaviour that Labor ordered the generators to stop this price gouging. Annastacia Palaszczuk got caught with her hand in the cookie jar and only then did she act.”

Ms Frecklington said Queenslanders can’t trust Labor when it comes to energy.

“Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh started the rot when it comes to our electricity sector. The Bligh Government, with Palaszczuk in the Cabinet, gold plated the network which meant massive price increases to pay it off but this gaming is taking it a step further,” she said.

“Labor should hang their heads in shame as they are the sole reason Queenslanders have record high electricity bills.”

LNP Shadow Energy Minister Michael Hart said the report also endorsed Deb Frecklington’s plan to lower power prices.

“The report specifically mentions the LNP’s plan to reform Queensland’s electricity sector is the right way to go,” Mr Hart said.

“The Government’s own modelling shows that creating three state-owned generation companies will reduce wholesale prices by more than 8 per cent.

“This is not just a short-term sugar hit, as we regularly see with Labor’s electricity policies, this is a long-term structural reform that is backed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.”

Facts from report:

  • Wholesale electricity prices increased by 57% in Queensland in 2016/17 (page8)
  • Gaming added $673 million to the price paid for electricity in Queensland in 2017. This is over 80% of the national increase – $825 million. (page28)
  • CS Energy and Stanwell recorded record profits in 2016/17 (page28)
  • Government directives are not a long-term solution because they do not address the structural cause of gaming. Queensland’s recent experience is evidence that under the right circumstances – market concentration and supply constraints – the market rules permit gaming. Gaming could re-emerge in Queensland or increase in other states unless the market rules are revised. (page28)
  • “To increase competition in the Queensland spot market, the government should split its generation businesses back into at least three. This would enable the market to deliver more efficient prices, rather than relying on the government directing the behaviour of generators.” (page 47)
  • Source: Grattan Institute, Australia’s wholesale electricity market (July 2018) – https://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/905-Mostly-working.pdf
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