Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (23 October) . . Page.. 3994 ..
price determination and it is at the discretion of the commission as to whether these costs are passed on.
Mr Speaker, I would like to stress that this bill has not been developed in response to any action or decision taken by the commission. The government is pleased that the commission's determinations have been soundly based, taking into account relevant matters raised during the consultation process and government policies. This measure is seeking to address a potential and unintentional consequence of the current act.
This bill will ensure that the charges determined by government will automatically be factored into the price charged to consumers. The role of the ICRC is to examine whether the costs incurred by the utility in order to provide a good or service should be passed on to the consumer or not, and this role should be rightly maintained.
However, the government does not consider that it is appropriate for the commission to consider whether a government fee should be passed on to the consumer. An example of a government fee could be a charge based on a cost incurred by government, rather than the utility, in the provision of a service-for example, the water abstraction charge. Alternatively, it could be a fee that the government has decided to add to the provision of a good or service in order to implement government policy-for example, an environmental levy. Under a disallowable instrument, the fee can be debated by the Legislative Assembly.
If the commission has the power to block the fee from being passed on to the consumer, it could have the unintentional consequence of giving the commission the power to determine whether a government policy is implemented or not.
A new section 4C will allow the Treasurer to declare that a statutory fee affects the cost of providing a utility or regulated service and that this fee may be passed on in full to the consumer of the service. The bill stipulates that it is not the function of the commission to investigate the amount of the statutory fee as part of its price determination for the utility. However, at the same time, the government appreciates and will continue to seek advice from the ICRC in regard to the appropriateness of certain charges and their levels as requested from time to time.
The bill is designed to ensure that a fee declared under section 4C can be passed on in all circumstances. Regardless of whether the commission is making a price direction in a regulated industry, deciding whether to consent to a variation, or deciding to vary a price direction, the statutory fee can be passed on in full to the consumer of the utility service if determined by the government.
I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.
Grant of a further rural lease
Disallowable instrument DI2003-254
MRS DUNNE(11.41): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to amend my motion.