SOLAR USERS: Caloundra’s Greg and Helen Clutton are annoyed at the treasurer’s criticism of those with solar panels.
SOLAR USERS: Caloundra’s Greg and Helen Clutton are annoyed at the treasurer’s criticism of those with solar panels. Warren Lynam

No champers' here! Residents angered by Treasurer

THE Sunshine Coast's growing group of solar-loving home owners has attacked Treasurer Tim Nicholls' sweeping statement that all those with panels are "champagne sippers".

Solar users have swamped The Daily with letters since the Queensland treasurer described those who took part in Labor's solar bonus scheme as "the latte set" while labelling the program "middle class welfare".

In an attack on the Opposition during parliamentary Question Time on Thursday, Mr Nicholls answered a Dorothy Dixer from the LNP's Kerry Millard on "how the government is building on its strong plan for a brighter future".

He criticised Labor's economic track record and turned it into an attack on those who have installed solar panels.

Mr Nicholls blamed Labor's Curtis Pitt for adding $3 billion to the cost of Queenslanders' power bills till 2027-28.

"So those people who were paying for the middle class welfare that Labor was putting out there - for the champagne sippers and the latte set - with whom they hang around all the time in terms of making themselves feel good, but making the rest of Queenslanders pay for it," he said.

From July 1 this year, those who receive the 8 cent feed-in tariff will have to negotiate with energy retailers on price. Those receiving 44 cents will remain untouched.

Mr Nicholls' comments have enraged the solar users of the Sunshine Coast.

In 2012, the Clean Energy Council named Caloundra as the second most solar-friendly suburb in Australia, behind Dubbo in New South Wales.

Pelican Waters resident Greg Clutton is semi-retired, and said he relied on the power of solar energy to keep up with rising costs.

"As a voter and solar panel owner, I am very angry with Tim Nicholls and the LNP Government over the treatment of people, like my wife and I," Mr Clutton said.

Eerwah Vale resident Liz Diggles said: "Mr Nicholls I have better things to do with my hard-earned dollars than sip champagne, I have chosen to put solar panels on my roof to harness the energy of the sun."

Solar Citizens National Director Lindsay Soutar said already people Queensland-wide were offended by the treasurer's comments.


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