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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 5 Hansard (29 May) . . Page.. 1087..


Utilities (Energy Industry Levy) Amendment Bill 2007

Debate resumed from 15 March 2007, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra—Leader of the Opposition) (12.23): The opposition will be supporting this bill. In presenting this bill to the Assembly, the Chief Minister stated:

The ACT government has worked to ensure that the provision of electricity and gas services to the ACT remains of a high quality and that the long-term interests of ACT consumers are protected. Without a secure supply of electricity and gas, Canberra could not maintain its excellent standard of living.

The opposition applaud the government for aspiring to these goals. Indeed, we would certainly seek to pursue those very same goals were we in government. I note from the Chief Minister's presentation speech that the commonwealth and industry have also endorsed this approach. However, I ask: will this initiative on its own achieve the goals to which the government aspires? Clearly, in the case of gas supply there does not appear to be any threat of shortage at this stage. But in the case of electricity supply we already are hearing about rolling blackouts because of the drought.

Whilst the commitment of the ACT through the Australian energy market agreement of the commonwealth and the states and territories to the Australian Energy Market Commission is a step in the right direction, it is only one step. Many more must be pursued if we are to be sure that the future energy needs of Canberra are guaranteed and protected. For example, what is the government doing to explore other energy sources? We have heard talk of a gas-fired power station, but is that the only answer? It may be one answer, but it may not be the only one. What it should be about is looking at a range of options, and this would include things like alternative power sources, partnerships with other governments and the private sector, innovative energy pricing strategies and more effective public education programs on the efficient use of energy by us all.

To its credit, the government has supported building and construction codes that deliver energy efficiency. But should we rest on our laurels? Are we keeping up with technological and scientific advancement and what are the latest trends in building design? A piecemeal approach to ensuring continuity of energy supply to the ACT is not an approach that will deliver the goals I spoke about earlier. The initiative delivered by the energy industry levy bill will contribute to an efficient national energy management structure and it will create cost efficiencies for the ACT government. Importantly, it will preserve the locally regulated safety, technical operations, consumer service and environmental behaviour activities and administration of the levy.

We are pleased to see the cooperation between the commonwealth and the states and territories that the Australian energy market agreement creates. We look forward to


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