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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1749 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

good results. In addition, over 20,000 customers contacted ActewAGL's advisory service for information regarding responsible energy use.

The government is well aware that ActewAGL is currently investigating the feasibility of a gas-fired generator. Mr Service wrote to the Chief Minister and to Mr Quinlan only as recently as April, advising that Actew has been interested in that issue for many years, particularly as a way of diminishing greenhouse gas emissions. However, he made it clear that Actew has not made a commitment of any kind to invest, at this stage, in such a generator. If any proposal of that kind comes before Actew, it will consult with the government.

Actew advises that natural gas-fired generators emit between 30 and 40 per cent less greenhouse gas than black or brown-coal generators. Since the ACT largely sources its electricity from coal-fired power stations, replacing some of this with energy from a gas-fired generator could make a useful contribution to the ACT's greenhouse reduction efforts.

In considering any proposal, the government would look very closely at not only the economic credentials of any proposal, but also the ecological and social issues that are related to such a proposal.

At 5.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The question that the Assembly do now adjourn having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MS DUNDAS (5.01): I thank Mr Wood for informing us of the current activities of ActewAGL, but I believe that the MPI that Ms Tucker has brought to our attention today is more about what the government should be doing as half-owner of ActewAGL. There are several compelling reasons why the ACT government should exercise influence over the operations and strategic directions of Actew and ActewAGL.

The burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity is one of Australia's main contributions to global warming. Although we may be required to honour carbon emission targets set out in the Kyoto Protocol, Australia as a whole, including the ACT, has not yet introduced sufficient energy generation or energy conservation strategies to enable us to meet the agreed emission targets.

Electricity is an essential service. To have an acceptable standard of living, it is essential that all people in our community have access to an affordable supply of electricity. As we are all aware, the previous Liberal government sought to wholly privatise Actew. Happily, the Assembly agreed to a joint venture arrangement only, so the people of the ACT still have a 50 per cent share in the corporation that purchases or generates the electricity on which every ACT resident depends.

As Ms Tucker has pointed out, schedule 4 of the Territory Owned Corporations Act requires Actew to "exhibit a sense of social responsibility" and comply with "the principles of ecologically sustainable development". The schedule also requires the corporation to maximise the sustainable return to the territory from its investment in Actew.

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