Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s dodgy cash grab to shift debt onto Government Owned Corporations could see drought-stricken farmers slugged more for power and water.
Handing down his Mid-Year Fiscal and Economic Review, Treasurer Pitt couldn’t rule out end-users such as famers paying for the extra $1 billion debt loaded on GOCs, such as SunWater.
Shadow Natural Resources Minister and Acting Shadow Agriculture Minister Andrew Cripps said the announcement added to the $4 billion debt-shift onto electricity GOCs as part of the state budget in July.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government’s serious failure to manage the budget risks even more serious consequences for Queensland’s agriculture sector,” Mr Cripps said.
“At a time when many farmers and grazier throughout Queensland are struggling with extreme drought, Labor has potentially exposed them to extra costs for inputs such as irrigation water.
“SunWater is being required to take on Labor’s debt, but ultimately, someone has to pay.
“We know this D-Grade Treasurer can’t manage the books, and it’s unfair to push the problem onto the GOCs that will surely have little option but to cover the additional debt load through higher charges.”
Mr Cripps said the consequences of Labor’s proposed merger between Energex and Ergon Energy remained unclear.
“The Treasurer hasn’t revealed where the $680 million of savings will come from,” he said.
“Farmers could not only be facing higher water charges, but also higher electricity prices.
“This uncertainty is exactly what Queensland doesn’t need right now from a Treasurer who is clearly making it up as he goes along.
“I wonder what the new Agriculture Minister, Leanne Donaldson, has to say about this proposal – she needs to speak up here for Queensland’s farmers – this is the first test of her leadership in the portfolio.”