Labor blamed for electricity hikes

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard today backed Newman Government claims that incompetent Labor Governments caused higher electricity prices and cost of living stress for Queensland families.

Household electricity prices skyrocketed about 83% following Labor reforms to the Queensland electricity industry in 2007-08.

Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle said one of the first moves by the Newman Government was to address the issue by freezing the main domestic tariff (Tariff 11) and implementing a series of reviews to identify electricity price drivers.

"Queensland's high electricity prices are directly linked to Labor Government decisions," Mr McArdle said.

"Queenslanders know the biggest increase in electricity prices this year is the Federal Labor-Greens carbon tax."

Mr McArdle said Federal Labor was running the show in Canberra while its mates in Queensland were passing on a cumulative 83 per cent increase in power prices.

"The Australian Energy Regulator, which was accountable to a Federal Labor Minister for the past six years, approved network expansion and allowable network charges for Queensland electricity companies," he said.

"The Gillard Labor Government rubber-stamped the Bligh Labor Government decisions."

Mr McArdle said the only person increasing revenue at the expense of Queensland families this year was the Prime Minister through her Carbon Tax.

"The insincerity of Julia Gillard on this topic is breathtaking," he said.

"Ms Gillard blames the states but remains silent on the impact of the Commonwealth's Renewable Energy Target and Carbon Tax on electricity.

"After five years of Labor in Canberra, Ms Gillard is only speaking out now because consumers are hurting because of the Carbon Tax on power bills.

"Ms Gillard ignored the matter when Anna Bligh was Premier. It has only now dawned on her that Labor's policies have caused the big price hikes.

"In spite of Ms Gillard's weasel words today, it's the Commonwealth regulator that approves state-owned electricity companies or network expansion and allowable network charges."

Mr MrArdle said these approvals have been driving a concerning level of network expansion in Queensland, which has been pushing up prices.

"What we are hearing from Julia Gillard today is cheap political grandstanding," he said.

Mr McArdle said that unlike Labor, the Newman Government immediately moved to put in place an independent review panel of State-owned electricity assets to identify the price drivers of electricity and how to reduce prices.

"We also established an Inter-Departmental Committee to fully review the electricity market and look at those drivers, including Commonwealth Government agencies directly involved in setting network charges," he said.

"Ms Gillard's actions amount to nothing. In contrast the Newman Government has taken direct action. I would ask everyone to judge Ms Gillard on her record, not her words."

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