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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1750 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

Actew's pricing is regulated by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission, so we have some reason to be confident that ACT electricity prices will remain competitive with those of suppliers interstate.

However, it is unclear which, if any, entity is ensuring Actew's compliance with the environmental charter set out in the Territory Owned Corporations Act. It is hard to imagine that a proper balance between the pursuit of profitability and the pursuit of the social and environmental goals of the act could be achieved without some government intervention in Actew's operations. The same could be said of the operations of ActewAGL, which is 50 per cent owned by a listed company with a duty to its shareholders.

I was rather alarmed to learn yesterday that the Treasurer is uncertain about what power he has to direct, or even to request, ActewAGL to do something that would increase Actew's compliance with the Territory Owned Corporations Act. I am currently unaware of the details of how decisions are made by the ActewAGL joint venture board, but I do know that the government appoints the board of Actew, and that Actew in turn appoints three of the six members of the joint venture board.

There is obviously no direct chain of command between the Treasurer and the three Actew representatives on the joint venture board, but I would find it curious and disturbing if those board members did not give serious consideration to the resolutions of this Assembly or the requests of the Treasurer. I would also find it particularly disturbing if the board disregarded such a request, if the suggested action would improve compliance with schedule 4 of the Territory Owned Corporations Act.

However, even if the Treasurer does find that his requests are disregarded, I cannot see why legislation could not be introduced to require the corporation to take particular action, provided such legislation does not fall foul of national competition policy.

I believe that few people in the ACT would disagree with the statement that we should be obtaining more of our electricity from renewable sources. We also need the government to aggressively promote energy conservation measures to reduce future energy needs. If the current corporate structure of Actew or ActewAGL frustrates the pursuit of these goals, then maybe it is time to revisit the regulatory regime governing electricity generation and supply in the ACT, to see what we can do to make this goal achievable.

MRS DUNNE (5.06): Mr Speaker, I rise to speak on this MPI with considerable interest, as Ms Tucker has, in the subject. However, I wish to point out that Ms Tucker seems to be incredulous of this, and appears to equate the Liberal Party and its views on the environment to some sort of Pythonesque film. I feel that I need to remind Ms Tucker and the Assembly that the Liberal Party has always been entirely consistent when it comes to the issues of energy conservation, sustainability and greenhouse gases.

I would like to remind the Assembly that it was under the Liberal Party that the ACT first embraced greenhouse targets, and that energy conservation and the use of renewable energy have been consistently endorsed by the Liberal Party. I also speak in this debate as a consumer of ActewAGL's products, and an admirer of its commitment to new technologies. For the record, ActewAGL is an electricity, natural gas, water and

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