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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 3744 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

The public awareness campaign will continue beyond March 2003 so that questions that arise once a market has been opened may be addressed and incorporated into advice to consumers. The government considers it essential that consumers have the best available information in making their choices. For this reason, consumers should not be individually approached by retailers until 1 March 2003. To allow otherwise would be to risk disadvantaging customers. The ICRC will monitor the activities of retailers and take appropriate action.

It is this government's objective to see that the electricity market reform is delivered within sustainable development frameworks so that our community, households and small businesses gain full economic, social and environmental benefits.

The decision that was taken by the ACT government was taken on balance, as I said, but also under advice from the independent regulator, the ICRC. We trust, and we are confident, that in the longer term it will benefit all ACT consumers. I am presuming that it will have the support of opposition members, who have over the years supported deregulation in the energy market, even to the extent of wanting to sell off all of our public owned utility. So, if there is some objection by the opposition now to FRC, then that would be something in the nature of a gigantic backflip. I will keep members informed should there be any developments not already addressed.

MR CORNWELL: I seek leave to speak on the same matter.

Leave granted.

MR CORNWELL: Whether or not the opposition does go along with it remains to be seen, Mr Quinlan, because there is a great deal of doubt and there are unanswered questions in the matter.

Ms Dundas: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your clarification on this. Is this anticipating debate of notice No 15 on the notice paper?

MR SPEAKER: At first blush it might look that way. But the Assembly has given leave to the minister to make a statement in the knowledge that this matter is on the notice paper.

Ms Dundas: But we didn't know what he was going to talk about until he started talking.

MR SPEAKER: He indicated what he was going to talk about when he sought leave.

MR CORNWELL: Mr Speaker, yes, I am aware that I have a notice on the paper for tomorrow. But I do not intend to address that. Rather, I intend to address the rather broad issues of what the Treasurer has said on this matter.

As I say, the opposition may very well be supporting this. But at the moment there is considerable confusion about what we have to support, what we can support. I do not need to tell Mr Quinlan that there are wide discrepancies in possible increased costs that have been bandied around.

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