Govt and opposition weigh in on power class action
THE Queensland government and opposition have responded to news a class action has been launched in which Central Queenslander’s could get compensation for alleged price gouging of electricity prices.
The Federal Court action is being launched by Brisbane law firm Piper Alderman against CS Energy and Stanwell over alleged manipulation of pricing between 2014 and 2019.
Anyone who paid an electricity bill in Gladstone, Rockhampton or Bundaberg, or the rest of Queensland, between those dates, can get involved.
Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said Queensland had the energy trifecta – lowest prices on the eastern seaboard, reliable supply and a planned transition to a renewable future.
“And we can do that because we kept our assets in public hands – including our generators, Stanwell, CS Energy and Cleanco,” he said.
“We met our commitment to Queenslanders to act on competition by directing Stanwell in 2017 to alter its bidding strategies to help put as much downward pressure as possible on wholesale prices.”
The issue has been investigated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian Energy Regulator, Dr Lynham said.
“And as recommended by the ACCC, the government has established the third generator – CleanCo,” he said,
“We have also delivered on our commitment to put downward pressure on electricity prices.
“Wholesale prices have almost halved since 2016-17 from around $93 a megawatt hour to around $54 a megawatt/hour in 2019-20.
“I encourage anyone with evidence that any of our generators are engaging in anti-competitive behaviour to provide this to the appropriate authorities.”
LNP Shadow Energy Minister Michael Hart said Queenslander’s had been paying top dollar for power for too long.
“Hard working families and business owners in regional Queensland have been taken for a ride under the Palaszczuk Labor Government,” he said.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government is happy to see regional consumers pay big bills because they get the big profits.
“Labor has form when it comes to using bidding practices to drive up wholesale electricity prices and game the system.
Mr Hart said the alleged manipulation of electricity prices came to the attention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission due to action by the opposition.
“The ACCC led an investigation into this issue in 2017 when Labor were called out by the LNP,” he said.
“Central Queensland families will continue to pay more for electricity prices and only the LNP has a plan for lower bills by ending the Ergon monopoly in the regions.
“A vote for the LNP on October 31 is a vote for cheaper power bills.”
To register for the class action visit the Piper Alderman Class Action website.