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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 10 May 2012) . . Page.. 2335 ..

benefit of reducing associated greenhouse gas emissions. A robust national retailer of last resort scheme administered by the Australian Energy Regulator will ensure a continuation of electricity and gas supplies to customers in case of retailer failure. This is a significant improvement of the existing arrangement in the ACT.

The legislation also provides a framework for developing a small compensation claims regime and protecting consumers from being disconnected during extreme weather events. The government will undertake further consultation this year to develop and enable these schemes.

Under the National Energy Retail Law the retail regulation of electricity and gas will be transferred from the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission to the Australian Energy Regulator. The Australian Energy Market Commission will be responsible for any changes to the rules that support the National Energy Retail Law. This is similar to its existing responsibility for the national electricity rules that support the operation of the national electricity wholesale market, distribution and transmission frameworks.

The commission will be required to adhere to the national energy retail objective set out in the legislation. The national energy retail objective promotes the efficient operation and use of energy services for the long-term interests of consumers of energy with respect to price, quality, safety, reliability and security of supply.

While this legislation adopts the national framework, it also preserves and continues requirements we hold important in the ACT. These include the continued regulation of electricity prices for small customers by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission and the mandatory green power first offer requirement. Also, as I mentioned previously, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal will continue in its role of resolving consumer disputes.

The bill also includes transitional provisions to ensure the existing contractual arrangements between customers and energy utilities are not disrupted but are transitioned smoothly to the new national framework.

The introduction of the National Energy Retail Law in the South Australian parliament was accompanied by a detailed explanation in the second reading speech. I have tabled a copy of this speech to enable this background information to be placed on the official record for the ACT.

This reform represents the culmination of more than a decade of work by Australian governments to develop seamless and efficient national energy markets. However, this journey is not complete and the government will continue to work for reforms that enhance the welfare of our community. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Rattenbury) adjourned to the next sitting.

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