Page 2238 - Week 07 - Thursday, 23 June 2005

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The bill gives inspectors the right to inspect premises, other than residential. I think it is important to note that that power is not there for entry into a private residence; it is for commercial premises, if it is reasonably believed that the restrictions are being breached. It is not just a coverall, where you can go in and do whatever you want. You have to have a good reason to believe it. Before the inspectors can do that, they have to produce an ID card. The opposition supports the intent of the bill and will be voting accordingly.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (12.14): I support the Utilities (Shortage of Essential Services) Amendment Bill 2005. The bill is to provide the Minister for the Environment with the legislative power to allow restrictions on the use of utility services such as water, electricity and gas by commercial and residential users in cases where supply is, or could become, insufficient.

It appears that such restrictions will be primarily limited to emergency situations, but there is also the ability for the minister to make such restrictions when the ACT is obliged, under national energy law or intergovernmental agreements, to reduce its total consumption to minimise system-wide impacts and damage. This is very interesting to note because, when taking a holistic approach, there is a strong, ongoing need for Australia and the ACT to continue to use energy and water more efficiently.

There are a number of ways outside the proposed legislation that we are trying to achieve that. As I provide my support to the Utilities (Shortage of Essential Services) Amendment Bill 2005, I urge the ACT government to further improve the standard of energy and water efficiency in the ACT in order to minimise the ACT’s risks against energy emergencies that are within our control.

MR QUINLAN (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Business, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (12.16): I thank members for their support. I thank Mr Smyth for telling us what is in our own legislation. I think this bill is pretty much a no-brainer. There is only one significant point to be repeated and that is that the bill does not replace the Emergencies Act of 2004. It is being put in place more to handle shortages and potential shortages of supply and, given our interdependence now on other jurisdictions through the national grids, it is essential that we are in a position to play our role when facing up to potential shortages.

It should be noted that there have been already in the last 12 months or so several incidences of potential shortages of electricity and gas when we may have needed to impose restrictions. This bill clarifies the capacity of government to impose them through its agents, to impose restrictions beyond challenge. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

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