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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 3 Hansard (30 March) . . Page.. 914..


MR GENTLEMAN (continuing):

working families; the union that I am pleased to be a member of and to support the work that it does for its members, many of whom are my constituents and saw fit to elect me as a representative of them.

I am proud to stand here tonight and be able to talk about a happy outcome to Mr Tim Bollard's story. I just hope that the next story that comes to my attention has the same happy outcome, although, as more employers learn about work choices, I feel that the end results will not be happy ones.

Water-excess usage charge

CREATE foundation

MR SESELJA (Molonglo) (6.05): I want to bring to the attention of the Assembly a matter that has been raised with me by a constituent. The constituent contacted me about a bill that he has received for excess water usage. He went away for a period of about three months, which was the bulk of the billing period in question. After he returned, he received a bill for almost $3,000. He has been resident at the same address for almost 50 years and has historically been a low water user. His usage over the preceding two years had averaged 115 kilolitres. The bill in question was for a usage of 1,711 kilolitres.

According to the master plumbers association, such usage would involve a tap running full bore for a period of 40 days. I understand from neighbours who were looking after the property and from other reports that there was no sign of water damage and there were no other signs that such massive water use could have been occurring while he was away. Understandably, he was quite shocked to get such a high bill, and now, of course, every bit of water he uses is charged at the highest rate, which is further compounding his hardship.

When ActewAGL notified him of the high bill, they did so by letter dated six days after the meter was read. The letter was received some days after that. Presumably, ActewAGL were not sufficiently concerned at the extreme water usage to warn the resident in case a problem existed that he could have rectified. Phone contact with ActewAGL has confirmed that the only recourse the resident had was to have the meter reading checked and then to have a leaking tap check undertaken. However, as it stands, there seem to be no appeal provisions and this older resident will simply have to foot the bill.

I have written to the Chief Minister on this matter. I was not expecting the Chief Minister to have responded yet, but I was amazed at the lack of sympathy from ActewAGL. I am bringing this matter to the attention of the Assembly because it does seem to me that there needs to be some sort of appeal mechanism against that. There is a prima facie case that that amount of water probably was not used and that, if it was, it was done through some illegal means. I think the people of Canberra actually deserve some sort of recourse when they get slapped with massive bills in such circumstances.

Mr Speaker, I also want to speak tonight about the CREATE Foundation, which I attended today and spoke to some of the members in relation to their training of consultants. The CREATE Foundation was established in July 1999, replacing its 1993 predecessor, the Australian Association of Young People in Care. CREATE has as its goal to improve opportunities for children and young people in care who have been


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