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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 November 2010) . . Page.. 5548 ..

MR SPEAKER: Ms Porter, a supplementary question?

MS PORTER: Would the minister advise the Assembly what has been the impact on ACT low income earners compared to those who live across the border in New South Wales?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for the question. As I have indicated, ACT households already have a comparative advantage when it comes to their electricity bills compared to people living across the border in Queanbeyan and Jerrabomberra. They have electricity bills that are just under $700 a year cheaper on average than their counterparts over the border.

The programs that I have mentioned are greatly assisting low income households—over 650 households have been directly assisted. It means that they are able to take control of their energy use. It is often difficult, of course, for low income households to have the funds available to purchase an energy efficient fridge or upgrade their washing machine. Often these appliances are extremely old and extremely energy intensive but are unavoidable in their use. By providing this funding, we have been able to assist these households to take control of their energy costs, to manage them better and to reduce the amount of money they have to pay for electricity.

In addition, of course, we have funded some very important work in improving the energy performance of the homes that people are living in. This is particularly focused on improved insulation and draught sealing for a large number of properties through ACT Housing. Indeed, as I mentioned earlier, it also means additional solar hot-water systems replacing the electric resistance hot-water systems.

This is where the Labor government is investing important funding to assist low income Canberrans to better manage their electricity and their water costs. It is targeted assistance to those who need it to ameliorate and manage energy and water costs for those households. It is the sort of program a Labor government can be proud of.

MR HARGREAVES: A supplementary?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hargreaves.

MR HARGREAVES: Can the minister please tell the Assembly what are the main factors driving electricity price increases?

MR CORBELL: There has been a lot of misinformation about what is driving price increases. Of course, Mr Seselja is one the main culprits when it comes to claims about increases in electricity costs and the reasons for them. Indeed, the allegation has been made that it is the requirement for renewable energy that is driving price increases. Unfortunately, some governments over the border have succumbed to this misleading argument.

In fact, the overwhelming driver of costs is the need to upgrade and replace ageing electricity networks, to upgrade and replace ageing electricity power lines, to upgrade

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