14 April 2016
Master Electricians Australia today told the Queensland Government to stay out of the electrical contracting business, saying it would be an abuse of market power for Ergon and Energex to be competing with mum and dad electrical contractors.
MEA Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Richards said electricians were deeply alarmed by reports that the State Government-owned electricity distributors Ergon and Energex was developing their own business division to enter an already-crowded contractor market.
“This would be a very serious abuse of market power should the State Government allow it to go ahead,” Mr Richards said.
“Ergon is the authority that approves connections of solar panels or battery systems for homes and businesses. This is the bread and butter work for many small contractors in regional Queensland, and now these contractors will be forced to compete with their own regulator for business.
“How can they have any confidence their applications will be treated confidentially or dealt with quickly by their competitors? And is it fair that one player in the contracting market will hold all the marketing information on which houses already have solar and which ones don’t?
“As if that’s not bad enough, while mum-and-dad operators are forced to go cap in hand to the bank for an overdraft, this new so-called business will be reaching into taxpayers’ pockets in order to support its operations and sustain any commercial losses.
“This is akin to the Government funding Woolworths to move in and smash the local corner store.
“Regional Queensland already has a well-supplied electrical contracting market, with many businesses falling over each other in competition for the kind of work Ergon now wants to take away from them.
“There is absolutely no suggestion of market failure or other conditions that would justify the State Government deciding to compete with small, local businesses and employers.
“The only thing this can do is drive those smaller operators out of business, which will in turn drive up prices for consumers once competition is reduced.”
“Master Electricians Australia calls on the Queensland Government to think about the impact this would have on regional small businesses and the communities that rely on them, and we call on them to put an end to this crazy scheme.”
Malcolm Richards is available for interview. Please phone SAS Group on 07 3221 9222.