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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 12 Hansard (24 October) . .

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territory land in non-urban areas as well. Currently ActewAGL undertakes this work, making sure that vegetation does not interfere with utility networks in non-urban areas, under the previous agreement with the ACT government. The amendment provides the legislative responsibility for this work.

The act will be amended to make ActewAGL responsible for vegetation management on leased territory land within non-urban areas and for private poles on rural leased land. The amendment allows ActewAGL to enter private property for the purpose of inspection and maintenance and to issue notices to owners to make them safe.

In the presentation speech, Mr Rattenbury said that the changes are being introduced to reduce the risk of bushfires being started by powerlines in rural areas, which of course makes us wonder whether enough has been done up until now. We have also had the comment in Mr Rattenbury's presentation speech that:

Some trees are dangerously close to the powerlines and require outages to prune them back to within acceptable clearances. The utility is confident that after a transition period of three to five years, the trees will be in a much more manageable state and costs will reduce, as outages will not be needed.

Again, it makes one question what has been done up until now that it is going to take us three to five years to have these trees in a manageable state.

The bill also introduces a strict liability offence, enforcing ActewAGL to comply with minimum vegetation safety clearance distances from poles and wires. This amendment to the act will create a regulatory change event that will allow ActewAGL to apply to the Australian Energy Regulator to pass on the cost of urban area tree management to customers. This will see an increase of $9 to $10 added to the average household electricity bill per year, according to Mr Rattenbury's presentation speech.

Whilst Mr Rattenbury said shortly after that in his speech that when trees are in a more manageable state costs will reduce, as outages will not be needed, I have yet to see any changes introduced by this government that lead to a reduction of electricity prices. What we see time and again is a small increase and another small increase and another small increase. The government likes to refer to it as something like "just the cost of one cup of coffee a week" or "two cups of coffee a week". At this rate, coffee will become completely out of fashion. None of us will have any money left to purchase cups of coffee.

On the basis that this has the result of seeing an increase of $9 to $10 per year in the average household electricity bill, we will be opposing this bill today. It is currently taking place, arguably perhaps not well enough, according to Mr Rattenbury's introductory speech. It is currently taking place. This change is going to see an increase for consumers. I do not understand what the benefit is going to be. All it is going to be is another charge to consumers. That is on top of every other charge that we see.

These cost of living increases are hitting Canberra households hard time and again. You might think that $9 or $10 a year is nothing, but when you add it to everything


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