The release of the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) final determination on 2022-23 regulated retail electricity prices for Queensland has left farmers and regional communities feeling very concerned and rightly so.
Rising wholesale electricity and gas prices are adding to the long list of escalating input costs for farmers and the determination has not offered any relief for highly seasonal farming businesses that need greater flexibility with tariffs that better match the seasonality of energy use. The substantial increases announced in both small and large business tariffs are also concerning for farmers across Queensland.
As farmers and regional communities collectively face an energy pricing crisis, it is ironic to note that Australia is the world’s largest exporter of LNG. Whilst COVID-19 and the Ukraine conflict are playing havoc on global supply chains and without a doubt, contributing to the situation, the spotlight must also highlight poor domestic energy policy as well.
We have made no allowances in this state for the development of a secure, affordable domestic market. Gas is our country’s natural resource and yet Queensland is at the mercy of high international prices for coal and gas which will likely remain high over the foreseeable future.
We need to work together to address both supply and demand in relation to the energy crisis, including fast-tracking the development of large-scale renewables and transmission, however, assistance will also be needed to ensure business continuity and viability in the short term.
Providing affordable tariffs, with competitive pricing will allow for stability and future growth for farm businesses who are currently unable to plan more than a year ahead of time, due to instability across the electricity network framework.
It is critical that the government implement long-term, sustainable and cost-reflective tariff structures for agriculture and irrigation to support the future viability of Queensland farmers.
Whilst securing future energy supply is essential, it is also important to continue energy efficiency initiatives like QFF’s Energy Savers Program, which supports farmers to achieve increased energy productivity on farm.
Is it also time that we took a close look at our domestic energy policy, including the implementation of gas reserves to support our local economy and communities? We need transparency and the combined thinking of industry, community and government to find solutions to secure our energy future.
QFF will continue to work with all levels of government, industry and community stakeholders to find affordable electricity solutions and price certainty, the future of farming and regional Queensland depends upon it.