Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 816 ..
component of the cost of living for Canberra households. That is why we committed, under the parliamentary and governing agreement, to make it simpler for Canberrans to get better energy deals. This reform will help Canberrans to save money on their electricity bills by improving the transparency and comparability of electricity offers as well as advertisements.
The bill amends the Utilities Act 2000 to create a legislative basis for introducing a reference price framework in the ACT. The bill specifically provides the Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction and I, as Treasurer, with the power to jointly determine a reference price. It also creates obligations on electricity retailers to use the reference price and to notify customers when retailers have a better offer.
I note that the bill supports the development of an industry code as part of the reference price framework. The ACT Retail Electricity (Transparency and Comparability) Code, which is currently being developed by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission, will provide the operational detail for retailers around the key obligations of this bill.
Members of the Assembly and the community are probably used to seeing electricity retailers spruik their deals by offering a percentage discount off their charges. Under this approach, it can be hard to know if you are getting a good deal. Under the reference price framework, a common benchmark—the reference price—will be provided to electricity retailers.
Put broadly, retailers will have an obligation to tell customers the difference between their price and the reference price when they make an offer. Energy retailers will also be required to regularly notify their existing customers if a better offer exists. This will make a real difference for Canberra households. We know that the difference between a standing offer price and the best market price can be up to $400 a year. We also know that around 40 per cent of Canberrans are on standing offer contracts, so there are tens of thousands of households who stand to benefit by up to $400 a year, once this legislation is passed and put in place.
It is a framework that will empower residential customers and small businesses to find the best electricity offer available in a competitive market and, most importantly, to save hundreds and hundreds of dollars each year. It is the government’s hope that greater transparency and comparability of prices will promote better competition in the market, and competition is in the interest of consumers. I commend the legislation to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Ms Lee) adjourned to the next sitting.
Courts and Other Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2021
Mr Rattenbury, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.
Title read by Clerk.