Adam Plate of Oodnadatta Traders (Pink Roadhouse Oodnadatta), a general outback business employing up to 12 people, this week expressed dismay at the electricity price rises which he said will be “much greater than suggested”.
Adam Plate said he heard Energy Minister Hon Michael O’Brien on radio suggesting that living in the outback was ‘lifestyle choice’, “which implied to me that if we didn’t like it we could pack up and leave”, he said.
In a comment, defensive of his new Remote Areas electricty tax regime, Michael O’Brien told ABC radio on Thursday 10 March, “There is an element of personal choice in all of this. Some people have made a decision that they’re going to set up businesses in Coober Pedy or they’re going to live in Coober Pedy, and there are costs associated,” he said.
“The State Government is subsidising their decision to operate businesses to the tune of $5.5 million a year.
“When all said and done, if there wasn’t a subsidy they would be having to find an additional $5.5 million. The taxpayers of South Australia are effectively underwriting the cost of running their businesses.”
I found that comment highly offensive and suggest Mr. O’Brien wouldn’t have the courage to make that comment about his city constituents”, Mr. Plate said.
Mr. Plate said the energy audits suggested by DTEI’s Vince Duffy would be pointless considering the costs of re-equipping premises in unicorporated areas would be prohibitive as banks refuse to extend overdrafts in areas where land values are low or unknown.
Adam Plate further stated, “Oodnadatta has never been offered a Renewable Remote Power Generation program!”
“Facilities in Outback SA are declining, – they are Third World”, said Adam Plate. “We flounder in dust and mud while our tax contribution helps Adelaide, the City State, get new tram lines.”
“Outback operators are being ground into the dirt by this Government with its lack of Council-style infrastructure, no potable water, inefficient road maintenance: and unreliable power supply with no local linesmen plus poor maintenance.”
“We suffer 6 or more failures a year often waiting 2 days for power to be restored as ETSA wont fly in staff” Mr. Plate said. “Add that to no off-peak power and an upward ranking pricing system and you have huge disincentives to set up businesses that can employ Aboriginal people and others in remote areas”.
“Tourism in the SA Outback alone apparently contributes $250.000.000 to State coffers but SA in particular has no system to return tax dollars earned in the ‘Bush’ back to the Bush, unlike say, Western Australia”, Mr. Plate said.