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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (15 March) . . Page.. 611..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The agreement schedules the transfer of most state and territory energy market regulation functions to a national regime and the phasing out of associated jurisdictional licensing regimes from 2007. In the ACT, these functions are currently undertaken by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission, the ICRC. In the amended agreement, states and territories agreed to fully fund the commission on the basis of the cost-sharing arrangements agreed to by jurisdictions and embodied in the commission's funding agreement. The ACT contribution averages 1.78 per cent of total estimated AEMC costs.

The ICRC currently collects fees from industry to fund their regulatory activities and those of the Office of the Technical Regulator and the Essential Services Consumer Council. The latter two bodies deliver safety regulation and consumer protection functions to ACT consumers. These critical functions will remain under ACT regulation. The phasing out of licence fees removes the base funding for these activities. It is important to all Canberrans that these organisations are adequately funded.

The bill I am presenting to the Assembly today is intended to replace the licence fee regime and establish a new equitable legislative framework allowing for the collection of funds from energy utilities for meeting the costs of national and local energy regulation. This is not a government revenue-raising opportunity. The new levy will progressively replace, and is not additional to, the fees already collected through the licensing regime that is scheduled for removal. I intend to appoint the ICRC as the initial administrator of the levy to ensure a smooth transition from the existing licence fee regime to the new energy levy regime.

This legislative approach has been endorsed by both the commonwealth and industry. Similar legislation has already been adopted in New South Wales, with South Australia and Tasmania also developing similar legislation.

The new legislation will ensure that the national and local regulation costs will continue to be shared between electricity and gas utilities in an equitable and transparent manner and that ACT consumer interests continue to be served. It is anticipated that the impost of the new levy on industry will not exceed the fees previously collected. With the administrative efficiencies offered by the national regime, industry should now also be able to remove many of the additional compliance costs which were previously incurred.

Accordingly, I commend the Utilities (Energy Industry Levy) Amendment Bill 2007 to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Mulcahy ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Electricity (Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Amendment Bill 2007

Mr Hargreaves, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.


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