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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 3730 ..

Water and Electricity Charges

MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, I direct a question to the Minister for Urban Services, Mr De Domenico. I refer to an article that appeared in the Canberra Times on Thursday, 14 November. It says:

A harsh winter, the attitude of Actew Corporation staff and its three-month bills had led to almost a 100 per cent increase in the number of people seeking help from the Essential Services Review Committee.

Minister, what action are you taking to ensure that ACTEW reviews its operation in the light of this criticism?

MR DE DOMENICO: I thank Ms Follett for the question. The Essential Services Review Tribunal will always take into account concerns expressed by any consumer, and will act accordingly. That has been the case since the tribunal's inception under the previous Follett Government, and the same thing will continue under this Government.

MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, after an answer like that I hesitate to ask him anything further. It is clearly - - -

MR SPEAKER: In which case, sit down and I will call somebody else.

MS FOLLETT: No, you do not get out of it that lightly. The Minister clearly has no interest whatsoever in the activities of ACTEW, but I ask the Minister: What impact does he believe a 50 per cent increase in water charges and a 6 per cent increase in electricity charges will have on the number of people who are seeking help from the Essential Services Review Committee when we have already seen a 100 per cent increase on ACTEW's record so far?

MR DE DOMENICO: I once again answer the question as I did Mr Wood's question. ACTEW made a submission to the independent pricing tribunal. The tribunal is not going to report until early next year; so I do not know what increase, if any, that tribunal is going to approve. Ms Follett's question is a hypothetical question. No increase at all has been announced. A submission has been put in by ACTEW. I stress once again that the Government is currently looking at the possibility of single billing for all amounts of money owed to this Government. You might be able to pay it off monthly or fortnightly. That is what we are looking at. That will help any people Ms Follett has referred to. The tribunal, established by the Labor Government and still there under this Government, will look upon those cases as they have in the past.

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