COOBER PEDY News & Events


Mayor Steve Baines of Coober Pedy speaking on the outback electricity crisis

Negotiations are currently underway between the Coober Pedy District Council and the Hon Michael O’Brien MP, the Minister for Energy in South Australia following community outrage over what outback residents and businesses consider to be a bungled attempt at providing cost effective energy to remote areas of the state.
Mayor Steve Baines of Coober Pedy accompanied by Damien Clark Financial Manager of the DCCP and Lyn Breuer MP the Member for Giles attended a scheduled meeting on Thursday at 3.30pm with the Energy minister Michael O’Brien, and also Owen Brown Media Adviser to Premier Mike Rann.
Although nobody from the DTEI office attended the meeting, Mayor Steve Baines said he was encouraged by the reception from the Energy minister.

During the meeting which lasted just over an hour, Coober Pedy’s mayor requested that consideration be given to the equalisation of power supply charges across the state.  “In Qld and WA, for example, the contribution for subsidising electricity is $66 per capita, whereas in South Australia it only costs $3.00 per head in comparison”, said the Mayor.
Further to this, Steve Baines said that he raised the concern that the two largest consumers of electricity, Coober Pedy and Andamooka were not yet on the state electricity grid. According to Mr. Baines, the Energy minister Michael O’Brien was receptive to this suggestion and stated that the government would undertake a costing for the two towns to be connected to the grid.
Mayor Steve Baines said he condemned the lack of communication which resulted in only 4 weeks notice being given prior to being ‘told’ of an immediate price rise in electricity.  “No impact study was done in this instance and there should have been at least three or four months discussions with DCCP prior to any remodelling of the electricity rates”, he said.
The communities were said to have been notified by way of a standard media release from DTEI.  “Minister O’Brien has apologised for the manner in which this was undertaken”, said Mayor Baines.
“We have asked for the decision to increase remote area electricity charges to be revoked.  The Coober Pedy District Council has not implemented the proposed tariffs and  will not do so until these issues are resolved and we hear back from Ministers.  Minister Michael O’Brien is yet to speak with DTEI executives to clarify what they intend doing about these increases”, said Mayor Baines.
Robert Coro, Chairperson of the Coober Pedy Retail, Business and Tourism Association representing 52 businesses in the Coober Pedy area said today, “I am pleased that dialogue has commenced between the State Government and the Coober Pedy District Council.  We look forward to commonsense prevailing in this instance and also in the future.”

Since the announcement of the increased electricity tariffs remote residents and businesses have feared that the inequality of the escalated electricity prices will cause extreme hardship across the state.

14 replies »

  1. At least something is happening thanks to Mr. Baines. There is so much double talk trying to make this price rise stick to us, but when you listen carefully there has been no substance to any of the reasons given in putting such high charges on the electricity. As a domestic user of power in the town in sounded like it wouldn’t affect us much, but after we have to pay for the water to be desalinated it’s going to affect all of us in massive proportions. It will affect me in another way if I lose my job and when you think about it we use less electricity while we’re at work!

  2. I suggest Mr Rann introduce his ministers and department heads to a government consultation protocol that actually includes those who could be potentially aggrieved.

  3. Why is it the taxpayers always play second fiddle to an obvious second agenda running alongside what we believed to be a government for the people? We can’t see our tax dollars being reinvested in the towns of origin. It shouldn’t need to incur so many talk-fests which this government has become to famous for when the end result shows they are building up credibility in certain safe areas.

    My yardstick measurement of this government is how, without any conscience they land-tax the elderly living in city accommodation placing undue stress on their tired lives. Now a sly tax on remote taxpayers with totally incoherent reasons given.

    What has this told us about those in charge of distributing our taxes efficiently and fairly? At least the outback residents have proved they can add up and aren’t as gullible as possibly assumed.

  4. There are some areas in the state that will be severely affected by an electrity price increase and others charges we simply don’t incur or can afford. We don’t all have the ability to raise our voices to stop this government’s gutless and cruel exploitation of remote communities. Thank you to the mayor of Coober Pedy for everything you are doing to bring justice and fairness to the outback areas. Many of us are in your debt.

  5. As long as we talk and they listen is what counts. So far NOT.
    Minister O’Brien is the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Energy and Minister for the Northern Suburbs and doesn’t come across as knowing what’s going on further up the state. I dont think we are classed as the Northern suburbs, are we? It’s more like we are a seperate country and deal with the DTEI who didn’t even bother going to the mayors meeting.
    Nothing like having decisions made about us, without us, is there?

  6. I think the electricity tariff hasn’t been thought through carefully enough, considering the impact and snowball effect it will have on local families, not to mention low income earners and also family travellers to Coober Pedy, when electricity prices will double under this new tariff.

    Because of the cost to desalinate our town’s water this will also result in our water charges rising by a further 25%.

    John’s Pizza Bar & Restaurant in Coober Pedy, fostered by Regional Development Australia Far North as a model business, bases it’s prices on costs, fairness and affordability.

    Currently our electricity bill sits at around $3,500 per month. Our water bill sits at $2,000 per month. There are many other costs factored into our pricing structure, including employment of local staff.

    Do we raise our prices to absorb the effects of the increased electricity tariff or do we make staff cuts?

    With the entire business sector needing to raise their prices to absorb this crippling electricity price demand, we will need to also factor into our increases the higher prices of goods purchased locally.

    This action will put the ability to eat on demand out of reach for many people.

    Therefore with less people able to afford food locally and whilst travelling it would seem more practical to make staff cuts, which will force many, particularly breadwinners of families who have small children, immediately into the unemployment queue. The cost of their unemployment will be placed back onto the government or tax payer.

    The state government of South Australia is forcing us to make this choice. Where is the logic?

    Peter Ikonomopolous
    Johns Pizza Bar & Restaurant
    Coober Pedy

  7. @ dave – far north
    The minister did not convey that he had a current grasp on the far north and it’s economics, nor did he convince me that he had a handle on decisions being made under him and immediately around him!
    Scarey or what?

    The State Governments energy minister Mr Michael O’Brien is uncompromising in his statements regarding the effect of his decision to eliminate the subsidy for electrical generation.

    The reality of his decision on towns such as Coober Pedy will be dramatic. For many residents and businesses it may mean either stay or go, or even solvency or bankruptcy.

    But Mr O’Brien and the State Government have no concerns, they are trying to cut state spending and the residents of the outback are few in voting numbers, and are not in Mr O’Brien’s electorate.

    In most other states in the Commonwealth of Australia, a town the size of Coober Pedy would have been connected to the national grid a long time ago, but successive South Australian Governments have failed to spend its tax payers money on permanent fixtures. Instead they have spent our money on projects they thought were important such as trade offices in remote parts of Italy, and media consultants.

    We can either lie back and accept these dramatic cuts to our non-luxurious lifestyles or we can fight it by demanding some action from our elected representatives.

    Our representative for Stuart Mr Dan Van Holst-Pellekaan, has made an excellent speech on behalf of his electorate in Parliament. While this is what we elected him to do, very few politicians are as supportive as he has shown. He also spoke on behalf of all the outback not just his area of Stuart.

    We should be supporting Mr Holst-Pellekaan in any way we can, and we should be demanding some serious action from our other elected Members of Parliament.

    Has anybody heard the representative of Giles, make any statements condemning what this decision will mean to the residents of various towns in her electorate.

    And have we heard from the federal member for Grey, about what this will mean to his constituents.

    We should remember at next elections who tried to help us and who did not.

    Let our representatives find out why it was so important that the State Government has to do this to us.

    Perhaps there were some urgent programs that needed money. Such as another study on possible costs blowout on the Adelaide Oval construction, or perhaps our social inclusion Minister (appointed), Monsignore Cappo, needed another taxpayer holiday in Italy.

    Tayifa Porini

  9. Where are our tax dollars Mr. Minister? All too easy to blame the regionals for an Adelaide blowout.
    Coober Pedy was minding it’s own business when the SA government began it’s multinational ventures into the outback, sponging off everything that was pretty much bolted to the ground. Of course we noticed the intrusion of department trying to form partnerships with them and linking us to their plans then making us responsible for wanting these pipe dreams.

    I question whether our cocky government/boys club has been investing unsuspecting tax payers funds in places most sensible folk would shy away from?!

  10. The saddism of governments never ceases to astound health and welfare workers.
    As a former health and welfare worker its not unusual to find oneself suddenly employed to assist families who are a victim of government decision – to be seen easing their pain. A government using taxpayers own earnings can turn their dollars around on them to manipulation situations in communities, conjured up on a whiteboard. The previous writer alludes to the reality that we don’t have a government for the people, and the myriad of helper departments are for the most part a camouflage which serve to keep up appearances and at the same time give the impression the unemployment figures are in reasonable shape.

  11. Maybe we need a regional ‘working group’ to define what balance there actually isn’t, going on with government spending of our hard earned taxes in the remote areas. Remote residents are fedup with being neglected, manipulated and believing they are lied to. This latest blundering stunt and threat to our livelihood delivered by the Energy minister just about gets the prize as the ‘stunt of all stunts’.
    Any suggestions?

  12. The manner in which the remote communities were notified of the electricity price rise, is the most shocking case of demonstrated contempt for human beings I’ve witnessed yet (excluding the assassination of Mintabie and their long term PRE-APY lands town!).
    In our view it was nothing short of hurling a poison filled bone over DTEI and the energy minister’s shoulder.
    We should never forget this display of utter contempt and attempted destruction by the state government for whatever reasons they have been trying to justify, which to date have been completely without foundation and as previously mentioned ‘without any logic’.

  13. Tayifa makes a few very relevent points in that the appropriate members have not shown any or much loyalty to their own electorates. Where are the incensed representatives? Three cheers for Dan from Stuart!

  14. That 12 communities might suffer financial hardship or even close down due to a mistake working out where regional taxes are going and other basic facts, surely deserves some response from the elected representatives.

    If it’s not such a shocking price to pay for electricity, maybe Whyalla would like to have a price rise also.

    It’s very surprising–although when the smear campaign aimed at the outback town of Mintabie was fabricated and perpetuated, the elected members visibly and in one case verbally abandoned the entire population there.

    Despite we always knew the agenda was “oil”, and it has come to pass, there is still a stoney faced silent denial happening. The wheels are falling off hey?

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