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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 5 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1298 ..

Ministerial Statement

MR DE DOMENICO (Minister for Urban Services): I ask for leave of the Assembly to make a ministerial statement on the Energy Ministers meeting of 9 May 1996.

Leave granted.

MR DE DOMENICO: Mr Speaker, reform of the energy sector is fundamental to the economic wellbeing of Australia and of the ACT. Estimations are that the benefits of reform in the energy sector are more than double those expected from national telecommunications reform and four times those expected from the reform of Australia's rail industry.

Mr Speaker, reforming the electricity industry is a crucial part of energy sector reform for all Australian governments. Members will be aware that there have been a series of agreements made by the heads of Australian governments on the development and implementation of a competitive national electricity market as part of national micro-economic reforms. The importance of electricity reforms for Australia's economic growth and international competitiveness is recognised. As a consequence, the National Grid Management Council was established to guide the reforms in the electricity industry. The National Grid Management Council has pursued the complex task of developing a framework for a competitive national market and of developing a national electricity code to govern the market.

It is appropriate here for me to repeat the objectives of the national electricity market: The market should be competitive; customers should be able to choose which supplier - (including generators, retailers and traders) - they will trade with; there should be non-discriminatory access to the transmission and distribution wires; there should be no discriminatory legislative or regulatory barriers to entry for new participants in generation or retail supply; and there should be no discriminatory legislative or regulatory barriers to the interstate and/or intrastate trade of electricity.

Parallel to the national market process, and to give effect to the market objectives, jurisdictions have pursued major structural reforms within their electricity supply industries. Members will be aware of the massive changes that have occurred in Victoria. In New South Wales we have seen the break-up of Pacific Power's generation capacity and the creation of new electricity distribution and retail business across the State. Also highly relevant for the ACT have been moves towards corporatisation of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme.

Structural reform around Australia has already produced marked efficiencies and has already delivered competitive electricity prices. The ACT has responded to these trends by the corporatisation of ACTEW, achieved in July 1995. Corporatisation has allowed the Government to put ACTEW in a position to participate successfully in a competitive market. Our corporatisation policy provides a fine example of the structural and micro-economic reforms that should and will be undertaken in other areas of government activity - reforms that will benefit Canberra's consumers, reforms that will underline the Government's customer commitment programs.

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