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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 9 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 3915..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

This bill will be a signal to the venture capital industry that the ACT is keen to invite its participation in the ACT's economy. It is my expectation that the partnerships to be registered under the bill will make significant contributions to the vision of the Canberra plan and the vision that it seeks to implement, particularly the dynamic, innovative and growth-oriented economy we all want.

As I indicated previously, I am very pleased with the support this bill has received from the Assembly. It is a piece of legislation that specifically is not necessarily of particular interest to a large number of Canberrans but it will certainly have a real effect and a real impact on our capacity to continue to ensure that the economic base of the ACT continues to expand and continues to meet our broader needs. So I am very pleased that this important piece of legislation will be passed today.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Utilities Amendment Bill 2004

Debate resumed from 5 August 2004, on motion by Mr Quinlan:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (11.48): Mr Speaker, the opposition will support this bill. At the national level and at the local level the regulation of utility services is undergoing substantial reform to reflect emerging community attitudes and concerns about the provision of energy and water and the sustainability of the environment. The essential question is how to ensure that the community is provided with high quality and reliable electricity, gas and water on a sustainable basis, all at a price which achieves the optimum balance between affordability for consumers and the generation of adequate funds to invest in future supply.

The Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission plays a key role in regulating utilities in the ACT, including price. The purpose of this bill is to provide for new functions given to the ICRC under the national reform agenda to be included in its determination of licence fees. This is to ensure that the ICRC can recover reasonable costs from the utilities industry for the detailed work that it is required to perform under national codes for the energy and water markets.

The amendments are commonsense. If society wants regulation of utilities, which it does, then the cost of the necessary research and analysis and publication of these results must be recovered. This bill provides for those costs to be met from licence fees, which are ultimately borne by people who use electricity, gas and water. So, in the end, the user pays.

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