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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2577 ..

Full retail contestability

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Treasurer. Can the Treasurer please inform members about the role of the full retail contestability public awareness committee, and can he detail the committee's information campaign aimed at Canberra households in the run-up to the commencement of full retail contestability on 1 July?


: Thank you, Ms MacDonald. As members will be aware, full retail contestability commences on 1 July 2003. I want to advise that there is currently a public awareness campaign in progress. The campaign reflects information I gave members in a ministerial statement in November last year.

The campaign is being managed by a steering committee consisting of representatives of consumer advocacy groups ACTCOSS and the Essential Services Consumer Council, of small business through the ACT Chamber of Commerce, of the local electricity distributor, ActewAGL, and of licensed retailers ActewAGL, Country Energy, Energy Australia and Origin Energy, as well as government agencies. The steering committee has held five meetings to review and endorse the campaign material to ensure that it meets the needs of all stakeholders, especially ACT electricity consumers.

The steering committee decided that the campaign should commence on 16 June and run for a three-week period, two weeks before the commencement of FRC on 1 July, and one week after that. This period was determined because of concerns that, if the campaign ran too early, it may lose impact. This view was primarily promoted by the Essential Services Consumer Council and ACTCOSS.

The campaign will focus on an information brochure setting out a number of questions and answers relating to FRC, together with contact telephone numbers for the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission and the Essential Services Consumer Council. Canberra Connect was provided with information on the introduction of FRC in October last year.

The campaign is centred on an information brochure, as I said, called Informed choice: which electricity retailer is for me? It does list all the electricity retailers currently licensed in the ACT, reinforces that consumers are not compelled to change from their current supplier-but may, if they are given a decent offer-and sets out a series of questions and answers prepared by the steering committee in relation to the introduction of full retail competition. One hundred and seventy-five thousand copies of the brochure have been printed. A braille version is available for the sight impaired and a translation service is available for people who do not speak English.

Delivery of the brochure to households in the ACT started last Friday, 20 June, and was expected to have been completed by yesterday, 25 June. Supplies of the brochure are already being distributed to all government shopfronts and over 70 community organisations throughout Canberra. Based on Mr Wood's experience with garbage collections and the brochure he put out, and the fact that people ignored the brochure, a series of advertisements has been running daily in the Canberra Times and weekly in the Chronicle since the start of the campaign last week, advising readers to expect the brochure. Advertisements have also been running on commercial radio since 16 June.

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