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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 November 2010) . . Page.. 5547 ..

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for the question. Of course, energy prices are a matter of continuing interest for many Canberrans. They have certainly been the subject of debate in this place. Before I come to the detail of Ms Porter’s question, I will just clarify that in my previous answer I referred to the two elements that the government has agreed to deploy as contributing $2 each to the total household electricity bill per annum per week. In fact, it is only $1 each for each of those two elements. It is $2 in total. I apologise for any confusion.

The government is undertaking a range of measures to assist low income households to meet the costs of energy price increases. Of course, it is pleasing to note that here in the ACT the average electricity price is just under $700 a year less than the equivalent electricity price in NSW, which the government is working to continue to maintain.

The government has taken two important steps to assist low income households to manage their electricity costs. The first is an increase in the energy concession. That concession has been increased in the last budget by $20 per annum up to a maximum payment of $215 per annum. The government has also provided CPI indexation through future budgets to ensure that that level of assistance maintains its competitiveness as the cost of living continues to increase. For that reason, we are very pleased to make sure that we have got one of the most generous schemes in the country when it comes to energy concession.

The other very important step that the government has taken in my portfolio relates to the $1.4 million worth of assistance that my department has provided to low income households and, indeed, to non-government organisations to assist those low income households with their energy costs.

We have provided a broad range of assistance, including $435,000 in payments to community non-government organisations who can then go and provide free new energy and water-efficient appliances to low income households. These are being distributed through a range of organisations, including the Belconnen Community Service, Communities@Work, Northside Community Service, the Salvation Army and the St Vincent de Paul Society.

Another $950,000 has been provided to the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services for building shell improvement in Housing ACT properties and the installation of solar hot-water systems for 100 Housing ACT properties that were previously reliant on old electric-resistance hot-water heaters. Further, 200 properties leased through community housing providers will be provided with energy-efficient appliances.

What this means, Mr Speaker, is that people on low incomes have been getting energy efficient fridges, water and energy efficient washing machines and a range of other electrical appliances that make a real and practical difference for them when it comes to their electricity costs. What it means, of course, is that the more energy efficient the appliance, the less they have to pay in electricity. To date, we have installed over 819 appliances, including 369 fridges, 45 freezers, 301 washing machines, 74 heaters and 109 solar hot-water systems. We estimate that we have assisted over 650 households through this process.

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