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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 7 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 1812 ..

MS FOLLETT: I ask Mrs Carnell: What assurance will she give to the community that they, in fact, will not face further unnecessary cuts in services as a result of her mismanagement?

MRS CARNELL: I can give an absolute undertaking that there will not be any unnecessary cuts in services.

Electricity Prices

MR OSBORNE: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services, Mr De Domenico. Minister, on 28 February this year I asked you a question about price increases within ACTEW, and more specifically I asked you about the pricing tribunal that you agreed to set up as a result of my amendment to your Bill. Minister, this question is not about the process of setting up a tribunal, as I did have a good briefing from John Turner and the department a number of weeks ago. I understand that the mechanisms have been put in place and the tribunal will be operational shortly. However, in response to the question that I asked you on 28 February, you said:

Can I also say, in answer to Mr Osborne's question, that any increases at all in ACTEW prices will be determined by the tribunal that Mr Osborne's amendment put into the Bill.

My question, Minister, is: Is this still the case? If so, how was ACTEW able to announce a price rise of 3 per cent for water and sewerage last week, given what you said in this chamber about the pricing tribunal and the fact that it has not yet been set up?

MR DE DOMENICO: I thank Mr Osborne for his question. Even Mr Osborne would probably agree that ACTEW's 1996-97 prices are good news for consumers. The new prices represent, in fact, a decrease in real terms from those charged in 1995-96. Members might laugh, but the fact is that the prices announced represent a decrease in real terms from the prices of 1995-96. These charges mean that consumers' bills for 1996-97 will decrease in real terms.

There are three main reasons why ACTEW has been able to determine such favourable pricing. The first one is the success of the Government's decision to corporatise ACTEW. I applaud the Assembly for voting accordingly.

Mr Osborne: Mr Speaker, I asked Mr De Domenico how it was that ACTEW was able to announce a price rise of 3 per cent, when it appeared that the pricing tribunal had not been set up; and, given what Mr De Domenico had said, that is the answer that I want.

MR SPEAKER: Whether or not you get it is a matter for the Minister, I suppose.

MR DE DOMENICO: Mr Speaker, thank you; I will continue with my answer. The first reason for such favourable pricing was the success of the Government's decision to corporatise ACTEW. The second reason was lower electricity purchase prices arising from the corporation's participation in the New South Wales electricity market.

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