Queensland Budget: consumers ‘being squeezed’ in regions by ‘stacked’ energy market, LNP leader says
Electricity customers in regional Queensland should be able to save $300 a year through retail competition, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington says.
The State Government released its budget on Tuesday and will spend big on infrastructure projects in a bid to create jobs and stimulate the state economy.
In her budget reply speech today, Ms Frecklington said the LNP would force Ergon Energy to cut the cost of energy distribution, making it more attractive for retail operators to compete in the regions.
“Regional Queenslanders are being squeezed by an energy market that’s stacked against them,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Labor has allowed Ergon to enjoy a monopoly in regional areas, despite the Queensland Productivity Commission calling for greater competition outside the south-east a year ago.
“Queenslanders north of Gympie and west of Toowoomba shouldn’t be treated like second-class consumers.
“Giving households in the regions the opportunity to shop around should save them around $300 a year.”
Ms Frecklington said splitting two electricity generating companies into three would also help lower power prices.
She also promised to put air-conditioning in every school in Queensland, despite the unspecified cost.
“Right now the Queensland Government only funds air-conditioning in state schools in tropical and western Queensland,” she said.
“I want air-conditioning in every one of our state school classrooms.
“We air-condition our hospitals, our prisons and our Parliament, but we let our kids swelter.
“It will take time and will require a significant investment but I won’t accept the status quo.”
Ms Frecklington also recommitted an LNP government to building a second major road between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
The LNP would also fully match the Commonwealth’s funding of $390 million to duplicate the Sunshine Coast rail line from Nambour to Beerburrum.
Ms Frecklington pledged no new taxes and attacked Labor’s tax intake, including higher duty for luxury cars.
“The Premier fobbed off criticism by comparing herself to Robin Hood — that’s not very fair on Robin Hood,” she said.
“Robin didn’t go around levying new taxes on the people of Sherwood Forest — he took taxes off the Government and gave them back to the people.
“It was the Sheriff of Nottingham who spent his days squeezing more money out of taxpayers.”