Tracey Joynson

Fears asset lease could end regional power help

THE Queensland Opposition has questioned how the government can afford the regional power subsidy without dividends from electricity providers.

Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt said regional Queenslanders risked cuts to subsidies or a big new tax if the privatisation of poles and wires goes ahead.

The government has repeatedly denied there would be any changes to the subsidy keeping regional power prices on par with metropolitan prices.

Premier Campbell Newman said ensuring the subsidy remained would be a lease condition.

"The uniform tariff for electricity remains in Queensland. That will be a condition of the lease," he said.

Energy minister Mark McArdle told News Corp the power provider's dividends was used to "provide subsidised electricity to regional Queensland."

Mr Pitt said the comments showed leasing Queensland's power generators was short-sighted.

"By a Newman Government minister's own words, dividends from power generators are needed to fund power subsidies to regional Queensland as well as government basics like schools and hospitals," Mr Pitt said.

"Campbell Newman and Tim Nicholls are so arrogantly set on asset sales that they're willing to sacrifice those profits which will result in big funding shortfalls within a few years.

"How will the Government continue to fund electricity subsidies for regional Queenslanders and pensioners?" he said.

Mr Nicholls has maintained since the leasing plan was first discussed the subsidy would remain and regional electricity customers would not pay more for power.

-APN NEWSDESK



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