Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 May 2018) . . Page.. 1711 ..
about how we have replaced the 1,288 inefficient dwellings with modern energy efficient homes, so for now I will just note it.
When I sit down, it will no doubt cue the broken record that is the soundtrack to the Canberra Liberals as they complain that we are once again highlighting the positive policies the ACT government is pursuing to address climate change. However, it is important to note that this motion calls on the ACT government to continue to do more in this space. That is why it is necessary to discuss what we have already been doing.
Low income households pay the highest proportion of their incomes on energy bills, so the ACT government’s investment in improving energy efficiency for these households is essential to improving their cost of living. The ACT government has already taken steps to assist not just the most vulnerable but all households to reduce their energy consumption. The return on this to the Canberra community is lower electricity bills and a healthier environment. This motion calls on the ACT government to continue down this path and, in doing so, create a more sustainable Canberra for current and future generations.
MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (4.42): It seems that this motion is almost a carbon copy of what was moved by Ms Orr in the last sitting. The Canberra Liberals’ position remains consistent with the views that we had in April. Energy sustainability, of course, is absolutely vital, and we have to make sure that our city is doing all it can to ensure that we have sustainable energy supplies. But we also have to always weigh this up with affordability and whether people can actually pay the bills that they are receiving.
We have seen the cost of living rise to unprecedented levels over the past few years. Utility prices are very much a part of that equation. Whilst housing and other components do play a significant role, electricity prices take out a huge part of many people’s budget. We have seen a 60 per cent increase in electricity prices since 2008. Attempts to lessen the burden of these high prices on Canberra households are clearly not working. Whilst we may be able to say that we are getting considerable power from sustainable sources, we also have to be mindful of the impact that it is having on Canberra households, especially those that cannot afford the ever-increasing cost of living in the city.
Ms Orr makes a point in her motion about how a transition to a sustainable future must be accessible to everyone in our community. This is, of course, very important. But we cannot forget that when we talk about things in the framework of just a cup of coffee a day or just a few dollars here or there, they do very much add up and they have a disproportionate effect on people on a lower income.
An obvious example is the cost associated with the government’s large-scale feed-in tariff program. Mr Rattenbury confirmed in an answer to a question on notice that the full feed-in tariff cost of $240 million will be wholly passed on to ACT electricity consumers, driving up the price of power in the ACT even further. Again, whilst it is all very well to look at this in the macro, and that is what we need to do, we also need to make sure that we are having a good look at the household impact.