Frecklington’s $493m power play to cut business electricity costs

Deb Frecklington has faced further questions about her budget plans while promising electricity subsidies for thousands of businesses.

Oct 07, 2020, updated Oct 07, 2020
LNP leader Deb Frecklington. (Photo: ABC)

LNP leader Deb Frecklington. (Photo: ABC)

On the second day of the campaign, the Liberal National Party leader visited Watkins Steel in Brisbane to promise a 20 per cent reduction in certain power bills if elected on October 31.

An LNP government would provide a $493 million community service obligation to Energy Queensland to remove the need to charge manufacturers a rate of return for electricity for at least four years.

Frecklington said about 16,000 businesses would benefit from the LNP’s plan to “supercharge” the manufacturing sector after years of neglect under Labor.

Pressed on the cost of the policy, and how it would be funded, Frecklington said she expected it to be a “game-changer” that allowed manufacturers to produce and employ more.

“How will we pay for it? We will grow our economy,” Frecklington said.

“It couples with the LNP’s already announced plan of no new taxes.”

With Labor warning that an LNP government would have to cut public sector jobs to pay for its promises, Frecklington was quick to point out that the CSO payment would also keep staff at government-owned corporation Energy Queensland.

Frecklington had earlier refused to state a position on whether an LNP government would reduce public service numbers by natural attrition, effectively not filling vacancies as they arise through retirement or resignation. That prompted Labor to foreshadow thousands of job losses, including frontline positions.

This afternoon, Frecklington said Labor had already embraced such a policy in government, except for frontline workers, which an LNP government would expand with “more teachers, more doctors, more nurses, more coppers”.

“The Labor Party have also initiated a voluntary redundancy program – I can rule out that and I can rule out forced redundancies,” Frecklington said, without clarifying the natural attrition aspect.

LNP deputy leader and would-be treasurer Tim Mander said Queensland manufacturers were struggling with high electricity costs and increased taxes.

“Too many of our manufacturing jobs have gone interstate or overseas because of Labor’s taxes, red-tape and anti-jobs policies,” Mander said.

Labor and the LNP are already debating costings that will not be released until the last week of the campaign, and budgets that will not be handed down until early in the next term. Labor is pushing an advertising and social media campaign that warns of a return to the cuts of the Newman government, while the LNP continues to question the Palaszczuk government’s priorities.

As new cases of COVID-19 in NSW today threatened to delay plans to reopen the Queensland border, Frecklington revealed she had asked Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for a briefing from the Chief Health Officer but had yet to receive a response.

“I have always said the borders shouldn’t be set and forget,” Frecklington said, adding that they shouldn’t remain closed “for one day longer” than necessary.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, whose government has restricted the border with Victoria, today insisted Queensland’s border policy was unrealistic.

“Until the end of the pandemic, it’s highly unlikely that NSW will ever get to 28 days of no community transmission, because that is not how a pandemic works,” Berejiklian said.

Queensland has again recorded no new cases of COVID-19 but the health department has again faced criticism over the impact of restrictions and transport policies on patients.

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