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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 11 May 2021) . . Page.. 1249 ..

to Auditor-General’s report No 7 of 2019 which was tabled in the Assembly on 27 June 2019. The report, entitled Referral processes for the support of vulnerable children, contained the outcomes of a performance audit by the Audit Office ACT which considered universal early family support services provided by the Community Services Directorate and Canberra Health Services and their linkages to more targeted services and interventions. The report contained a number of conclusions and key findings and made six recommendations.

The government’s response to the Auditor-General’s report was presented to the Assembly on 24 October 2019. The committee received a briefing from the Auditor-General in relation to the audit report on 17 February 2021. Pursuant to its resolution of appointment, the committee has inquired into this audit report and resolved on 5 May 2021 to bring it to the attention of another committee of the Assembly for further consideration. Accordingly, the committee has written to the Standing Committee on Health and Community Wellbeing referring this report for that committee’s attention and consideration.

Utilities Amendment Bill 2021

Debate resumed from 20 April 2021 on motion by Mr Barr and Mr Rattenbury:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MS CASTLEY (Yerrabi) (11.35): As the shadow minister for energy and emissions reduction, I am pleased to speak on this bill and to signal from the outset the Canberra Liberal’s support of this legislation. We support the bill for two key reasons: firstly, it gives more information and buying power to consumers—to Canberrans and their families—which will mean more money in their pockets through cheaper power bills.

That is something we should all applaud. Secondly, the Canberra Liberals have long campaigned on cost-of-living pressures, so any measures which ease the load on household budgets is welcome and overdue, particularly for low-income Canberrans and families.

Given Victoria introduced a price comparison framework, the Victorian default offer, almost two years ago in July 2019 and New South Wales and South Australia also require electricity retailers to include a default market offer as a price comparison tool for customers, I wonder whether this legislation could have come to the Assembly earlier. But here it is, so let’s get it done.

One of the two main parts of this bill are setting a reference price framework so consumers receive a reference bill for a typical consumer. This gives Canberrans a benchmark to compare deals and offers from other retailers, from competitors, and make informed choices so they get the best deal. This brings to mind what we now see on our supermarket shelves where customers can see products and compare prices on boxes of cereal and muesli bars by knowing their price per unit or weight. Secondly, the bill ensures retailers will tell customers of best offers, if they are on the best electricity offer and how much they could save by switching to a different one.

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