A group of angry Outback SA business people have launched a hard-hitting campaign against the Rann government’s decision to increase electricity prices in their region by as much as 125%.
The campaign which includes a series of press ads in regional papers and The Advertiser and radio advertisements in Adelaide, highlights the devastating effect of the energy tariff increases on local businesses and families.
There are 13 remote towns which will be affected by the cost hike in power bills.
Campaign spokesperson and Coober Pedy Retail, Business and Tourism Association chairman Rob Coro says local businesses fear for their future in the face of the increases.
He says that many of these threatened businesses had contributed to the campaign cost.
Support had come from his own Association, the District Council of Coober Pedy, the Andamooka Progress and Opal Miners Association, the Umoona Opal Mine and Museum, Desert Diversity Tours, the Opal Inn Hotel Motel Caravan Park, the Desert Cave, Lookout Cave, Underground Books, Oasis Caravan Park, Stuart Range Caravan Park, interests representing Marla and Glendambo, Radeka’s Downunder, Comfort Inn Experience Motel, Miners Store Supermarket and Service Station and John’s Pizza Bar
Mr Coro, whose company owns Coober Pedy’s Opal Inn Hotel Motel Caravan Park, is facing a monthly tariff increase of more than $15,000.
“Our aim is to get the Rann government to back down on its decision to force these increases on our community,” says Mr Coro.
“In our press advertisement we make the point that the Federal government agreed that all Australians should be charged the same for internet access.
“But the Rann government doesn’t share this view when it comes to energy costs and wants to punish us for living in the bush.
“Our state government obviously regards electricity as a luxury.”
While average households in the region face a 10% increase, local supermarkets will have to increase prices to cover increases of up to 120% or an average of $10,000 a month.
“This is a cost which must be added to the price of bread, milk and meat,” Mr Coro points out.
“The only alternative for many businesses will be to lay off staff.”
The Coober Pedy pizza shops are copping a 70% increase and a town restaurant is looking at ways of absorbing a 46% hike in its power bill.
Mr Coro says that Energy Minister O’Brien has told the Coober Pedy District Council that ‘given the difficult State budget position, the tariff increases will have to be implemented’.
“It appears the Rann government now wants to rip off the people in the bush to make up for its own financial incompetence,” Mr Coro adds.
“This aims at the very heart of SA’s valuable Outback tourism industry and everyone up here now fears for their future.”