The Queensland government’s use of $3.4 billion from leasing assets to help reduce power prices amounts to electoral bribery, unions say.
The Queensland government is attempting to bribe the electorate with a $3.4 billion dollar sweetener on power prices, unions say.
The state government has devised an economic plan to take to the 2015 state election, raising $37 billion through the long-term lease of some public assets.
It will spend $25 billion on paying down state debt, $8.6 billion on new infrastructure and $3.4 billion on offsetting the cost of Labor’s Solar Bonus Scheme.
“This is a very big issue that has been hurting Queenslanders for some time,” premier Campbell Newman told reporters on Sunday.
The scheme offered homeowners an incentive of 44 cents per kilowatt hour to encourage the uptake of solar panels.
But Mr Newman said it had subsequently contributed to the rising cost of power because those receiving the benefit were being compensated by other power grid users.
“We’re taking the costs of paying the solar feed-in tariffs to the people who have got that deal, we’re taking that out and making it the responsibility of government,” Mr Newman said.
He stressed those who had a contract to receive the benefit would continue to do so until the plan phased out in 2028.
Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said the plan was a diversion from the LNP’s asset-sale agenda, which would cost jobs and drive up the cost of electricity.
“This is a government that has one path,” she said.
“Queenslanders do not want their assets sold and Campbell Newman is failing to listen to them.”
The plan amounted to “poorly disguised bribery with public funds”, Queensland Council of Unions assistant general secretary Ros McLennan said. “Their plan proposes to take funds from the public purse to subsidise power bills that will ultimately end up being the profits for the private operator.”
Mr Newman acknowledged power prices would continue to “track an upward path” but said the plan would save the average household $577 over five years, or about $28 per quarter.
“Well it’s better than going the other way and that’s what’s been happening,” he said.
The premier denied suggestions the plan, which wouldn’t kick in until July 2015, could suggest an early election.
“2015 is when the election is,” he said.
“This is about the appropriate response to something that’s hurting Queenslanders, and that is higher power prices.”
WHAT THE QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT IS TAKING TO THE NEXT ELECTION:
– Raise $37 billion from the long-term lease of some public assets.
– Spend $25 billion on reducing state debt from $80 billion to $55 billion.
– Spend $8.6 billion on infrastructure to create up to 25,000 jobs.
– Use the remaining $3.4 billion to offset the cost of the Solar Bonus Scheme for those not receiving the feed-in tariff.