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Sacrifice electricity profits, or pay in lives

Wayne Mulvany IWC CEO

Soaring electricity prices are causing irrevocable damage to the health and wellbeing of our communities – physical and emotional. As a provider of services to all, with a focus on Indigenous, disadvantaged, at-risk and vulnerable peoples, IWC is seeing this first-hand every day.

Vital medications are not being refrigerated in clients’ homes. Food is not being stored or cooked safely, causing contamination and illness.

Elderly, frail and unwell people are refusing to put even a fan on in sweltering heat. Many people are taking to their bed as the sun goes down to avoid switching on lights, leading to prolonged periods of inactivity and social isolation. This outcome is in direct contrast to the Government’s extravagant spending on campaigns that seek to motivate people to become more active and community engaged, and through this stave off ill health, obesity and depression.

The reason for all of these harmful actions is the ridiculously high and constantly escalating electricity prices being imposed on our communities despite a political talkfest around the issue.

While developing first-world standards around clean energy and the famous gold-plated electricity grid that covers regional and rural Queensland, the Government has created Third World living conditions for the people it is supposed to serve.

Because let’s not forget who owns 100% of the electricity utilities in our regions – the Queensland Government. While IWC clients have no choice around electricity providers because there is a monopoly here, the State Government does have a choice. It can choose to reduce electricity prices.

This is not a new issue – successive State Governments, both Labor and LNP – have held office while huge leaps in power prices scour the last dollars out of household budgets. At IWC we see the sad and sorry outcomes every day.

Around 85% of our clients / patients have one or more chronic diseases and complex conditions. Some people have as many as four to manage. We work with the elderly, people with disability, unemployed, families struggling to juggle the costs of basic needs.

Throw crippling electricity prices into the mix and you have a deadly cocktail, with the fallout stretching into future generations. When the electricity bill comes in, the stress levels of households soar. With no way to pay – and payment plans that bust the household budget are not a solution – disconnection is a growing option for many. No electricity turns off the fridge, cooker, washing machine … you name it. A true Third World scenario.

I put it to the State Government. Our clients are struggling with disadvantage. You, the State Government, have the advantage of being the owner of the electricity grid and associated operations. You have the power to reduce electricity prices to affordable levels. So rise to the challenge and make the switch on behalf of the communities you are supposed to serve.

By continuing to ignore the impacts of electricity costs on here in our communities, refusing to listen to the grassroots, there is no doubt that many of our clients will require hospitalisation and / or other health-related activities that could be avoided. So what’s it to be – lower electricity prices or higher health care costs? The choice is yours – it’s time to sacrifice some electricity revenue dollars, or pay in lives lost.