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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 November 2010) . . Page.. 5517 ..


price increase for the reporting period for ACT water utilities, compared with the highest percentage increase being for Sydney Water at 19 per cent. It is another example of how the Liberal Party use statistics, use the facts, to suit their own arguments, even when they know that those figures are incorrect.

The same can be said about electricity prices. It is an entirely relevant comparison to look at the average electricity bill in Queanbeyan and here in the ACT to assess how we are travelling in managing the costs of these important utility services. The average electricity bill in New South Wales, including in Queanbeyan, per household is $2,200 a year. The average electricity bill per household here in the ACT is $1,522 a year. It is $700 a year cheaper for ACT households compared to households just across the border in New South Wales.

I do not know whether the Liberal Party have been paying attention to commercial television recently, but if they had they might have noticed that the mainstream commercial media in Sydney in particular have been going to town on the fact that families in Queanbeyan are being asked to pay, on average, close to $700 a year more for their electricity compared to families here in the ACT. The ACT is being held up as a jurisdiction that is managing to control price increases, unlike jurisdictions across the border.

But let us understand what is occurring in relation to electricity prices and how those prices are being managed. The overwhelming driver of price increases for electricity is coming from the need to renew investment in vital infrastructure—in lines and poles, in transmission networks and in generation networks. That is where the cost drivers are occurring. And they are occurring because we are reaching a point in the cycle where essential electricity infrastructure needs to be renewed. That infrastructure was predominantly built in the 1970s and the 1980s. It is now reaching the end of its economic life. It needs to be renewed and the investment is flowing through. And unlike previous rounds of investment in electricity, which was subsidised almost directly by the taxpayer through government funds, it is now being paid for through price increases from consumers being recouped by what are increasingly privately owned companies.

That is what is driving the price increases. That is what is driving the overwhelming price increases—the need to renew fundamental and essential electricity infrastructure. It is infrastructure that will be needed whether we source our electricity from fossil fuel powered generation or from renewable, clean energy generation.

Mr Seselja is very keen to make the government’s policy settings around the feed-in tariff his whipping boy on the issue of electricity prices, but let us first look at exactly what contribution the feed-in tariff makes to the overall cost of electricity here in the territory. To date, with the scheme that is currently legislated for, the total price impact per household per week is less than a dollar, and that is already factored in by the Australian Energy Regulator. The full cost of the scheme that the government has agreed to deploy, which is 40 megawatts of large-scale generation, again, when fully committed, is less than an additional dollar a week.

In total, the scheme that the government has agreed to deploy to date contributes, to household electricity bills, less than $2 per week. And that will only occur when the


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