The $3.2 billion dividend raid by the Palaszczuk Government on Ergon and Energex is a slap in the face for regional Queenslanders as Ergon is their only choice of supplier and retailer, according to the Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar.
“It really is a stealthy way of raising extra revenue. The Treasurer may choose not to call it a tax, but that is what it is. A special tax tied to every electricity account issued by Ergon,” he said.
“That means people will pay this tax multiple times.”
“It will be paid in every home but it will also be paid at the Rotary clubhouse and at the local Meals on Wheels. It will be paid by schools and hospitals. It will be paid by netball clubs and footy clubs. And every small business owner will fund a double dip donation, whether they like it or not,” he said.
Mr Millar, whose electorate covers one-fifth of Queensland, said he was already dealing with a steady stream of average people who were struggling to pay their electricity bills and this raid on funds that should have been used to decrease power charges had left him furious.
“I regularly speak to business owners and primary producers whose quarterly bills are in the five figures. The Minister just does not seem to realise decisions in George Street inflict real-life wounds out here,” he said
“Small businesses in Gregory are in the grip of drought and in the Central Highlands, local businesses are also struggling with the mining downturn. The Premier is happy to mouth words of sympathy, but actions speak louder than words.
“The LNP took this issue front-on. We succeeded in removing $7 billion of expenditure from the electricity companies to drive down the costs to consumers. This success was reflected in the Australian Energy Regulator’s draft determination for 2015-2020 to keep costs low.
“I can tell you that everyone in central and western Queensland was absolutely gasping for that relief. Now, instead of prices flattening, they get massive price hikes to prop up the ALP’s budget incompetence,” he said.
The Gregory MP said regional Queenslanders can feel doubly outraged because their position was like someone being robbed at gunpoint. “They have to pay up. There is nowhere else to go. If they want electricity, they pay what Ergon charges and wait as long as Ergon pleases to be connected. Now it turns out, Ergon is just the collection-agent for a greedy government,” he said.
Mr Millar said that he has a survey on his website lachlanmillarmp.com encouraging his constituents to anonymously share their quarterly billing amounts with him so that he can accurately illustrate the situation faced by everyday electricity users in Gregory.