Those solar powered, champagne sipping, latte drinkers: @Qldaah #qldpol


9 News Brisbane: The champagne sipping latte set: Treasurer Tim Nicholls attacks solar households.

9 News Brisbane: The champagne sipping latte set: Treasurer Tim Nicholls attacks solar households.

Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls has labeled people who took advantage of the Bligh Government’s solar rebate scheme as “champagne sippers” and being part of the “latte set”.

In another “blame Labor” session of question time in the Queensland parliament, Nicholls turned on solar households labeling the scheme “middle class welfare”.

In response to an interjection by Premier Campbell Newman, Nicholls blamed Labor for the cost of the feed-in tariff component.

“So those people who were doing it toughest and who did not have the money to be able to put solar panels on 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 told the house.

Pre-Newman Government, Queensland households that took up the scheme by investing in the installation of solar panels were rewarded with a 44 cent feed in tariff from the government owned power suppliers for energy they put back into the grid. Around 205,000 households signed on for the scheme.

However, after coming to power, the Newman Government slashed the rebate for 50,000 households down to 8 cents based on the period in which they had signed on. Most recently, the 8 cent feed in tariff was abandoned completely, leaving those households to bargain on a price with their suppliers.

QCA: Percentage of power price rises in Qld.

QCA: Percentage of power price rises in Qld.

Along with the carbon tax, the solar feed-in tariff has long been blamed by the Newman Government for the rising cost of power prices in Queensland. However, the Queensland Competition Authority has repeatedly shown that the major cost in power price rises is in the network. Recently announced electricity price rises show Queenslanders will pay an extra $200 a year with a rise of 13.6 per cent.

The rapid uptake in solar power across Australia has resulted in homeowners creating clean energy power stations in cities and towns across the nation.

@GuardianAus’s Nick Evershed documented the uptake in relation to federal electorates in an interactive map entitled; “Solar energy map of Australia”.

Treasurer Tim Nicholls’ Queensland seat of Clayfield is part of the federal seat of Lilley. Data shows the area has 8,506 homes powered by solar, 13.66 per cent.

$63,795,000 has been invested by the people for savings of $4,763,360 in power bills.

Total tonnes of CO2 saved is 26,581.

Extract from Qld Treasurer Tim Nicholls' speech against solar households.

Extract from Qld Treasurer Tim Nicholls’ speech against solar households.

Nicholls’ jibes also drew online responses from #qldpol commentators, including @GuardianAus’s, Van Badham, The Courier Mail’s, Paul Syvret and Qld Federal MP for Morton, Graham Perrett.

An extract of the full speech appears left.

For the full Hansard transcript of today’s events, click on; Record of Proceedings (Hansard) 05 Jun 2014.

Support an independent media voice. Support No Fibs Citizen Journalism.
Monthly Donation


  1. John Stannard says

    I don’t know about latte sipping or champagne anything.
    We borrowed the full amount to buy our 2kW solar panel system before the big price drops which are no making solar panels competitive in an open energy market.

    We invested on the basis the environment needed help. CO2 has just gone past 400 PPM globally which hasn’t happened before in modern history.

    We are still paying the credit card off two years later and still receive a small power bill. On our analysis, we will both be retired before we are in front.

    This is small families investing in State energy infrastructure. Mr Nichols unfortunately has no idea.

  2. Which planet is Tim NIcholls living on? He is so out of touch – or is it willful blindness?
    Like David Carter @chef09876 I’m far from the champagne sipping set and so are many if not most of the solar adopters in my part of the world.
    For me too, installing a grid-connected solar system was about making an environmental difference. The way Newman and co are spinning the impacts of solar uptake on the network is despicable. It’s utter rubbish too.
    So is the way they seem to want to take this – to punish and make us pay more. This will push me towards investing in a stand alone system – and giving ‘them’ the finger.

    • Sarah, as a fellow panel owner I sympathise. But be careful going off grid. A bare block of land still attracts water and sewerage charges, the justification being that the infrastructure is available.

      Don’t put it past these LNP grubs to use that as a boilerplate.

  3. Here’s the real reason behind Nicoll’s jibe on solar -From the coal-fired power station { State owned or equity stakes) point of view, you couldn’t have a worse competitor, because solar is at its best when the market is at its most Peak times when air con etc in full swing ie 4pm in Brisbane summer, powered by solar
    Federal Treasury estimates that 51 per cent of an average household bill is spent on network costs. Most of that is going towards paying off the $45 billion network companies have spent {using our money}on updating our poles and wires over the last five years.BTW there was a ‘locked in 10% margin” on that expenditure- 40% or more which flowed back to the State Govt’s coffers. The staggering rise in electricity prices brought on by this investment has had a rather unintended consequence. ‘Because the price got so high, it made solar even more competitive from the customer’s point of view,’ says David Leitch, a utilities analyst with UBS. ‘Because when you use the solar in your house, you don’t use the wires and poles in the system, so you’re eliminating half the final price.’
    Power consumers have paid $45bln for the poles and wires upgrade, contributed $5bl to State coffers and now Govts intend selling these Networks to private enterprise, but firstly, they will eliminate the competition from Solar, hence LNP search and destroy activity on both levels of Govt RET Federally, and reneging or rewriting solar tarrif buyback.
    Watch for an immediate hike in the Statutory Costs ( your elect bill, nett of usage )This is aimed specifically at Solar users.

  4. Charon findlat says

    I also had to pay off my solar hot water and solar electricity . I certainly am not in the champagne sipping latte group. I worked two jobs to help pay for it and will not see a real return until I am retied . I think Campbell Newman is completely out of touch with the ordinary person.

  5. The evidence that I have seen is it is primarily middle class and lower middle class suburbs and new housing estates going solar much more than the more affluent suburbs. Those with a mortgage have done the sums and know solar starts paying them back immediately with reduced bills and the payback time for the entire system is realistic. I used a 2 year loan arrangement with my solar installer on my 1.5kw system, but I’m regretting I didn’t get a slightly bigger system.